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Fixing a CD in 3 easy steps

A friend gave me his CD which had broken into two pieces and asked if I could fix it.

cd_before

Looking at it I knew there was no way I could recover all the files correctly, but there was a possibility that some files could be recovered. So I took up the challenge.

The first thing that I wanted to do was to attach the CD using Pidilite’s FeviQuick but I didn’t have any so I used FeviCol instead to attach the two pieces together.

step1

There were way too many scratches and the portion near the crack had vanished so I wasn’t too optimistic about the result. But I had way too much time on my hands so I thought I’d go all the way just to see what happens.

After an hour or two, the glue had hardened but the CD would still bend when lifted. I then used cellotape to ensure that the CD remained in one piece.

step2

After the cellotape fix, I realized that I had spilt some of the Fevicol on the CD layer.

step3_before

I used a combination of cologne and my mom’s nail polish remover to remove the glue and it even managed to remove a few scratches.

step3_after

That’s it. The CD was firm, relatively clean and seemed ready for the Acid Test  so I inserted it in my laptop’s CD drive.

step4

Obviously with the amount of damage the disc had taken there was no way Windows would even detect it as a CD.

I used some of the free tools from here and I managed to recover a few text files, pictures and portions of a video.

You’ll probably have more luck with your recovery process if your CDs are in better condition. 😉

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  1. Robin
    January 18th, 2009 at 00:02 | #1

    Hmm…Well I found it amazing that you could recover anything at all. Here’s why: Now the data on the disk is stored on tracks that spiral outwards. And any file of sufficient size (say 100kB) would occupy atleast 1 complete spiral. From the image of the broken disc, I gather that atleast a few bytes of data are lost at each point along the entire length of the crack ie. each spiral has lost atleast some data. Implying that every file (of sufficient size) would loose atleast a few unrecoverable bytes which would render the rest of the data useless.

    How you managed to recover anything at all is mind blowing.

  2. Robin
    January 18th, 2009 at 00:11 | #2

    I also think you got lucky. Coz the tracks on the disk are so microscopic and minutely spaced that if you had stuck the two pieces even a few micrometres away from their original position, the disk would be completely unreadable.

    (The reason this post excited me so much is that I had tried this myself a few years ago but with no result. Although I suspect I managed to damage my cd drive.)

  3. January 18th, 2009 at 00:26 | #3

    I never said I was 100% successful. I recovered tiny readme.txt files of less than 100KB and a few .AVI files. AVI Files can be played from anywhere as long as the header (again less than 100kb) is intact (I was lucky the header was fine). I guess that answers why I was able to recover some files.

    As for your second comment, you are right. The disc was unreadable and Windows could not even detect a CD in the drive although there was one.

    I had to use recovery tools which had their own drivers to access individual sectors (i repeat…not files) on the CD which I still count as a success.

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