Recovering your data from damaged DVDs

James Walsh

DVD capacities are increasing too, and there are more options available now for managing the files stored in them. One common example will illustrate this better. Unlike a CD, it is possible to have a movie stored in a chapterised format on a DVD. This will give the viewer the chance to watch certain sections of the movie in whatever order is preferred. As we all know, the Digital Video Disk offers the best audio visual output among all portable digital storage media, since it came to the market almost exclusively for the movie and music industries. Therefore, when we lose data from a DVD it is usually in the format of audio visual files.

How Does it Happen?

How is data lost from a DVD? It is important to know the causes, since the method of recovery will depend on the way in which the data was lost in the first place. It also depends on the nature and volume of the data lost, and we shall be referring to this later.

Bad handling is currently the top cause of losing data from a DVD. Inserting a DVD wrongly in the tray, forcing it down to 'sit' better on the tray, pushing the tray in roughly, and then trying to pry out the tray if it is stuck inside with the DVD are some of the most common ways to data loss. Many people use sharp objects to try to get the DVD out if it is stuck inside the machine. Any scratches on the surface of the DVD containing the data can be fatal for it. Scratched data can not be recovered anymore. DVDs are also forgotten and dropped.

< (<)
Manufacturing defects is another reason for data loss. The plummeting prices of the DVD have been bad for quality control. Cheap DVDs easily develop bad sectors and do not record data properly, or worse still, corrupts the data after some time.

Viruses can cause data loss in DVDs, like in any digital media.

If the power is switched off while the disk is running, there may be a data loss.

If the hard drive fails with the DVD working in the same machine, or if it is run on a system not compatible to the file types stored in it, the data may be damaged.

DIY Software

People do not go to a professional data recovery company with a damaged DVD unless it contains sensitive and top priority government or corporate data. The usual way is to apply DIY software for this. There are several companies in the market now that deal specifically with data recovery from DVDs. These are usually available as downloadable software that can be paid for through the net. There are some off the shelf recovery software available too. Noted below are some of the properties of good DVD recovery software.

Firstly, the software should work. This is not as simple as it sounds. Whether it is a data DVD, a DVD RW, or one that has been reformatted to hold only drag and drop files, the software should work with them all. It should be effective for all audio visual, music and photo file formats, including ones that are zipped or compressed. It must be able to work on DVDs that have been used for direct recording inside still or video cameras, music systems, home theatres.

The software should be able to recover files deleted or formatted by mistake, corrupted by virus, or through software misuse.

The software should be easily accessible and should not bypass the OS of your computer. It is recommended that you make a test run first after downloading the software to see if it is opening properly.

The software should have a demo version.

There should be provision for a preview before you accept the recovered data. This is mandatory if you are planning to recover audiovisual files from the disk. You should be able to see and hear the results before pressing ok.

The instructions of the software should be easy to follow. There should be a user friendly visual based interface so that you know clearly how the work is being done.

The software should belong to a good and well established company. Free software is not bad, but why take the risk?

About the Author
2006 All rights reserved
James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you are concerned about data loss and would like more information on Data Recovery see