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Resources for songwriters inside and outside the music business, including music accessories, music related sites, film and TV resources, a bit of How-To, and other related music industry work sites

(courtesy Kim Komando )

With the right gear, you can use a home computer to make custom
CDs that contain music, backups or photos to share with family
and friends. CDs are very durable but the data on them occasionally
becomes inaccessible. Fortunately, certain techniques and tools can
breathe new life into failing CDs.

Like their music counterpart, CDs should be handled carefully.
Fingerprints can make bits of data unreadable. Scratches can
destroy a CD.

Commercially made CDs are molded, not burned. They seem to last
forever, unless they're badly scratched or otherwise abused. The
industry claims that homemade CDs will last years. Tests done by a
Dutch computer magazine this year, however, found that many CDs were
unreadable after less than two years. Apparently, the problems were
caused by poor manufacturing.

You probably haven't had problems that serious. But problems with skips
and blurry sound often result from fingerprints and other matter
collecting on the disk. The solution for that is pretty easy. Check
out the CD cleaning kits at office supply stores. Priced at $10 to $50,
these kits contain, at minimum, cleaning/polishing fluid and lint-free
cloth. Some promise to repair scratches with filling material. At the
high end, the kits include motorized polishers.

A homemade solution may work as well. Put a small amount of soapy water
or isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth. Gently glide the cloth from the
inside of the CD directly to the outer edge. Never rub the disk as it
is likely to cause scratches. Rubbing around the disk in the direction
of the tracks can cause fatal scratches. If you scratch the disc, it
can better deal with scratches that run perpendicular to the tracks.

If cleaning does not do the trick, all hope is not lost. Rescue
software is available for more seriously damaged discs, say those that
Windows will not even read.

The software programs generally work the same. Once installed,
the rescue software attempts to pull any file and file fragments
off the CD. Then, it will save the files on the computer's hard disk
for later retrieval.

The software will recover just about anything saved on the disc
including programs, documents, and digital images. This means you can
also use the software with digital camera media such as CompactFlash
and SmartMedia cards. The program's success depends on the amount of
damage and where it is located on the CD.

Fortunately, you can see if the software will be useful without
spending a dime. Isobuster (; $20) and
BadCopy Pro (; $39.90) are two such CD
rescue programs available on the Internet. Either one will tell you
whether the CD files can be rescued before asking for payment.

If you're concerned that your CDs are developing problems, use a
utility such as CDCheck ( This program
also can verify that the data on the disc matches that on the hard
drive. It is $10 for personal use.

If you back up your data, you can avoid many of these problems. When
you burn a disc, burn a second one. Double check both discs to be sure
they work. Then put the second one in a safe place. If this seems like
a lot of trouble, think how you'll feel if you lose that precious data.