Advice For Unreadable DVDs

To cut to the chase, I hope to find the best drive possible to read DVDs I recorded that my current drives find unreadable or partially unreadable.

Here’s why. I archived videos on DVDs, both DVD-R’s and DVD+R’s from a variety of off-brand manufacturers (store brand, no brand, etc.) I burned them with Nero 6.6 on a Lite-On 411S firmware-altered to 811S.

Now I’ve realized my huge mistake. While the files on some discs are all accessible, most discs contain six or so files that refuse to copy (there are about 20 files per disc). The files that won’t copy are usually grouped next to each other on the disc.

For the most part, these discs have been untouched since I burned them, and there are no visible marks or scratches. So whatever the problem is, I don’t think it’s scratch-related. Also, the discs have been stored in DVD wallets and have not been exposed to any extreme conditions (heat, wet, etc.) What’s really odd is that some of these discs read perfectly a couple of weeks ago and now suddenly portions of the same discs are unreadable.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve experimented with CDCheck, IsoBuster, CD/DVD Diagnostic, and BadCopy Pro, but those programs tell me the files, or sectors within the files, are unreadable, even when I’ve set the number of read attempts to the maximum.

Because some of my DVD drives read the discs more completely than others, I’m hoping someone who’s been through this before can recommend the best drive for reading unreadable discs. I’ve poured through the forums and see references to drives better able to read scratched discs, but my discs aren’t scratched. Speed doesn’t matter—just ability to read the unreadable.


I’ve recovered many a trashed disc with a LiteOn drive.

I’m guessing it’s just media deterioration (I’d be curious to know the MID info of the problem discs, found under the Disc Info tab of CD-DVD Speed).

There’s also an Asus drive that I’ve heard works quite well at this, though I can’t remember the model number.

BTW, welcome to CDF! :flower:

Thanks, Arachne, for the help and warm welcome.

Based on your response, I did a couple more days’ research reading through the forums and finally decided upon a LiteOn SOHD-16P9S. Unfortunately it was unable to read the same portions of the DVDs that my LiteOn 411S (flashed to 811S) could not read.

I also attempted the Nero CD-DVD Speed test to obtain the MID from one of my damaged discs, but the test could not complete. Instead, I got the following error message: CIRC UNRECOVERED ERROR (31106). I haven’t had time to run the test on the other discs yet.

My next attempt to recover the data from my unreadable DVDs will be with a Pioneer DVR-710. I believe the DVR-710 is identical to the DVR-111, which has garnered great reviews. If I’ve read correctly, ASUS drives are rebranded Pioneers, so I hope it will be as good as the ASUS you had in mind.

Thanks again and I’ll post my results in case others have similar media deterioation problems.

I cant suggest you to buy a writer just for that. However my Pioneer have successfully read some DVDs (pressed) with deep scratches that my standalone Sony simply refused to play.

The only media that’s known to deteriorate that fast is made by Ritek or Princo. If the mid is either of those, all you can do is hope to reburn them a.s.a.p to a much higher quality media (at least Verbatim), as I have experience with Ritek G05s deteriorating seriously in as little as 2 weeks. :eek: Hopefully you won’t have more disks with that same CIRC error, because if it gives you that kind of error IIRC, you’re screwed on that disk.

Does anyone have an opinion about BenQ vs Plextor drives, in regard disc recovery? I’m in the same boat as the original poster. I’ve been using ISObuster to try and recover files from a bunch of 5 year-old cheapo DVD-Rs. Different drives have given different results but now I’m down to the final 3-4 files per disc that nothing has been able to read.

My drives:

  • NEC 2510 (couldn’t hardly read any of them)
  • NEC 3400 (could read some of the damaged files)
  • Pioneer DVR-110 (could read most of the damaged files)

Now, I’m debating buying another drive – either a BenQ or a Plextor – just to get another data point!

P.S. I talked to tech support for CD/DVD Diagnostics and they said that they have a lab where they leave discs reading and re-reading for WEEKS to try and get as much of the data as possible!

BenQ 1670 may be the first choice for such a purpose:

I’ve had some experience recovering disks. I’ve been going through my old disks and scanning them and reburning the troubled ones, like Ritek G05, Princo’s, etc.

The good news is so far I’ve been able to read back every disk, despite some frightening looking scans.

If you have an old Pioneer burner lying around, these are very good readers. The slower the better. Also use the Nero drivespeed utility, not CD-DVDSpeed, but drivespeed, to slown down your burner/reader as much as possible.

My old and new Pioneers are my best readers. The BenQ 1650 is also very good. If slowing down your drive is not enough, you could use DVDDecypter which has an option to keep trying, up to 99 times, when encountering read errors. I would use this in addition to slowing down the drive.

I must admit, surprisingly enough, I had one particular good experience with a BenQ 1650 - it read back the contents of a disc my LiteOn 1635S wouldn’t even look at.

Quite a shock, given that I’ve had excellent results with Liteys before now, data-recovery-wise :eek: