How to recover apparently unreadable files on DVD?

Nikokaro

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About ten years ago I had copied several old anime series onto DVDs, but now I notice that some seem to be damaged in some areas.
The discs have no externally visible damage. But when I copy some episodes to PC it starts spins in vain (I don't know if this is the right expression in english) for a few minutes, and then gives me an error I don't remember (unreadable sector or whatever). The damage only affects a few centrally located files; most of them, before and after, I can copy to PC.

Do you have any suggestions on how to recover them? Or how to repair the surface of the DVD (which however doesn't look damaged to the naked eye)?

Thank you.
 

CoolMe

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Ten years ago? Since it's that old, i suggest just re-DLing the episodes now with better quality, unless it's something obscure or VHS-only that you can't find online?...
Anyway, do all of those DVDs refuse to be read properly? Do you see any deep scratches/rot spots as if that's the case there's nothing you can do. Also Try on another drive, or any of those DVD players if you have one lying around.
 

Tom Bombadildo

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See what you can recover using https://www.videohelp.com/software/ISOBuster < ISO Buster. It can "attempt" to recover data that's marked unreadable by other programs/Windows. Like most data rescue programs, it might not be perfect and may not help, but it could potentially recover some of the episodes.

Otherwise, TBH I'd just do what CoolMe suggests and re-download them. Chances are unless they're some super obscure thing nobody has ever heard of, it'll be ripped somewhere online and probably in better quality.
 

Nikokaro

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@CoolMe thanks. They are series from the 1980s dubbed in my language, very hard to find online. The sites I downloaded them from no longer exist, others are constantly being sued and shut down. As I said, no external scratches, and out of thirty DVDs ten have unreadable files. I don't have any DVD players.
 

Y0shII

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Looks like disc rot is slowly eating those dvds, not much you can do but try to copy as many files as possible before losing more data. Repair is almost impossible, however if you still have the original burner you can try to see if they are still readable but it is a slim chance. I have the same problem, many dvds affected by disc rot and ended up downloading files again (tv shows are being released again and you may find them ripped with newer codecs) or just losing the data.
 

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I agree, ten years is a lot. DVDs wont last forever.

Id probably try to create a backup ISO to preserve whats still there. Theres quite some "home remedies" people show you on youtube and stuff.

Trying different drives is a good idea to start with. I can recommend IsoBuster too, been getting me some good results in the past.

Depending on how important that stuff is, theres some more stuff you could try. For general data recovery ive been using mainly R-Studio and Acronis Software.
 

linuxares

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Depending on quality of the DVD. It might be disc rot.
Most likely if it is disc rot, you're out of luck. Since it's the physical "silver layer" of the discs that start to go bad.

Try like imgburn or something to dump them, but I'm afraid you are out of luck here.
 

KleinesSinchen

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The organic dye in cheap CD-R and DVD±R isn't always long-term reliable. I've had some cheap DVDs fail after just a few months while others are still good after very long time. I've read that bad (worn) burners might give less stable results. I have not seen a single Verbatim CD/DVD fail yet. Don't take that as advertising! It doesn't mean Verbatim never fail and it doesn't say the quality is still the same (I have a batch of brand new Verbatim CD-R where the dye looks uneven/not perfectly single-coloured on some of them – for now they are working though).

For storing data on optical media I recommend using at least two copies on different media brands. Very unlikely for them to fail on the same time frame. Regular verification and copying is needed in any case when storing data; nothing lasts forever. There is a reason why I have this signature that looks a bit cynical.

I can agree on trying different drives. When dealing with various (admittedly pressed) used discs in bad condition I used many different drives. There wasn't a single "this is my champion!"-drive that always succeeded where others failed. I don't know how promising this approach is in your case: Burned media simply tend to degrade internally over time. What often can be repaired are scratches on the polycarbonate layer –called "resurfacing" – but don't even try if a CD (not DVD) is scratched on the label side: Exitus.

It is said that early CD-R on gold (or at least silver) basis are much more stable. Same for BD-R type HTL which uses anorganic dye. My personal experiences with BD-R are not really existent because I have been using them a few years only; late for the party.


If not too many consecutive sectors are damaged your chances on video data are good. Other data isn't as forgiving. Some damaged sectors result in A/V artefacts but the movie should work. This was used in (S)VCD to increase data amount on CDs by using Mode2/Form2 (less error correction). In case an isolated part is completely busted, a video recovery program might be able to salvage the intact parts cutting out the defective seconds. This only makes sense if not too much is lost.

Good luck!
 

Nikokaro

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Thanks @Y0shII @LostRabbit @linuxares @KleinesSinchen I've tried IsoBuster but when I right click on these files it doesn't even open the options window; the PC tries to read them but the DVD spins in circles and never stops. With CDmage and other software it's the same.

Previously I noticed that if I clean the DVD well with a microfiber cloth, sometimes I can copy them to PC, but it takes almost 20 minutes for a 100mb file. This shows that it is a physical damage, a deterioration of the surface of the disc!!!

At this point I'd like to copy them all calmly to a 1Tera USB stick trying to save as much as possible but it's a long and tedious work that will take me time and occupy me for months. They are old anime series (Getter, Macross, Mazinger, Saint Seiya, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma1/2 etc) that I would love to see again, under the pretext of showing them to my 6 years old son.. hehehe.

As for downloading them again, I've already said before that finding them online now, dubbed in Italian, is almost impossible: they keep closing the sites that have them or blocking access to them.

For now I leave this thread open for curiosity about the interventions and I'll close it in some time, unless the staff closes it.
 

KleinesSinchen

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"Previously I noticed that if I clean the DVD well with a microfiber cloth, sometimes I can copy them to PC, but it takes almost 20 minutes for a 100mb file. This shows that it is a physical damage, a deterioration of the surface of the disc!!!"

You could try resurfacing then (but only after attempting a copy on multiple drives as polishing away the outmost layer can also backfire).
Programs that deal with copy protected CDs/DVDs (game/software protection not movie DVD/CSS) have options to ignore defective sectors (Safedisc profile) and can even fast skip them on a few drives (Teac seems good at this). Personal opinion/warning: I don't trust Alcohol 120% or Daemon Tools. They come with adware so I use them only on an offline computer. Please note that such programs sometimes do not remove all remnants after uninstallation which can make some games go nuts and claim you're using a CD emulator when you aren't.
 

Nikokaro

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As I said, I only have two computers, each with a DVD drive, and they give me mostly the same result.
When I clean the DVDs I am very careful, well aware of the danger of damaging them further.
The episodes that are absolutely unrecoverable I will try, as a last resort, to download them in japanese, with english subtitles.
 

Y0shII

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"The episodes that are absolutely unrecoverable I will try, as a last resort, to download them in japanese, with english subtitles."

Yeah... sad but true because I have the same problem, however most of the time when I search those tv shows or movies (anime related) I can easily find them already ripped and subbed (even in several languages and with newer codecs that save lots of space). You can also try to download only raw series/movies and then search only for subtitles, but most anime and mostly popular ones are available for download (those that you mention are popular and easy to find, even with italian subs), so no need to keep trying to save tv shows or movies. Personal documents, files or photos then yes, I will keep trying. Obscure or not so popular anime is really hard to find so not much you can do about it..... only hope that eventually is going to be available again.
 

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