How to Test for Defective DVDs and CDs

Updated 5/17/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff  

Depending on the quality of blank media you buy - from time to time a CD or DVD will not work. The drive either fails to recognize a disc is in place, or it doesn't read it properly. What is the problem? It may be the disc or it may be something else. Here are a few ways to tell if the disc is defective.

Visually Inspect the DVD or CD

While not very technologically sophisticated, closely inspecting the disc is a good first step. With a closer look you may be able to spot flaws that indicate disc defects. The illustrations below show a good disc compared to discs with flaws that can be spotted with a careful examination.

A good disc with no visible flaws. A disc with signs of a bad dye spread or dye melting. This is almost guaranteed not properly burn. A dicc with blemishes on the dye, perhaps caused by dirt or lint during pressing. The flaws will prevent a good burn. 


Testing Discs with Software Utilities

There are several free utilities available for testing discs that can tell you if there is a problem - as long as the DVD or CD drive is working properly. A popular and highly rated utility is Nero CD-DVD Speed. It is still available at freeware download sites. The latest utility from the creators of Nero CD-DVD is called Opti-Drive Control and can be downloaded for free at The disc utility will verify functions like write sectors and speed and display the results as shown below. Whether you have a good or bad disc doesn't have to be a mystery. Using a disc testing utility you know the status of the disc - good or bad - removing the doubt and the guesswork. If you have a defective disc there are a few things you can try to get it operational, but most defects are not repairable.

The Opti Drive Control Display