How to Fix Scratched Games at Home

How to Fix Scratched Games at Home
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How to Fix Scratched Games

To learn how to fix scratched games you have to first understand how a game disk is assembled and what the scratch actually does to it. Game disks are read by lasers in the disk drive of the console. If there is a scratch on the disk the laser gets refracted, think about it like a prism scattering light into a rainbow, sothe normally focused reading beam can nolonger send back useful information to the processor. Even a small scratch can cause problems with a video game. Filling the scratch is the only way to fix the problem.

Physical Makeup of a Disk

Video game disks like the ones made for the Xbox, Playstation or computer consoles are made of a multi layered plastic material that is laid down in the following order.

  • The first layer is the printable layer. This layer is usually what you would referred to as the top of the disk where the graphics and title of the contents are displayed.
  • The next layer is the lacquer layer that separates the printable layer from the foil data layer. It is very thin but quite hard. This is the layer that may peel away from the disk if it is left in direct sunlight.
  • The data layer is laid down next. This foil layer is where all of the actual information on the disk is stored. If a disk is cracked or scratched down into this layer it cannot be repaired.
  • Over the data layer are laid ten 0.1mm layers of softer plastic coating. These protective layers are there specifically to buffer the data layer from damage due to scratching. A scratch that doesn’t reach down to the data layer is relatively easy to repair with common household items.

How to Repair a Scratched Disk

When you are attempting to repair your disk you will need a mild abrasive, Brasso metal cleaner has a great track record, clear coat car wax and two lint free buffing towels. The process is straight forward and you don’t need any special skills and if you do happen to make your disk worse it still may be fixable by a professional.

  • The first step in fixing a scratched disk is to do an initial rinse of the game disk under cool tap water. Using extremely hot water (for an extended period of time) can warp the disk.
  • Once your disk has been rinsed dry it off with your shammy. Put a small dab of your abrasive on the surface of your disk. Rub this around in a small circular motion with the shammy.
  • Rinse the disk to remove any remaining abrasive. Dry the disk off.
  • Apply clear coat wax over the entire back of the disk. This will fill in and even out the gaps that were left by the abrasive. Once the wax is dry buff it off.
  • Now try your disk. If your disk still doesn’t read you can try these same steps two or three times. After the third time, if there is no improvement, you should get in touch with a professional disk resurfacing specialist. There are often people of this capacity working at your local video rental store that are trained specifically on how to fix scratched games.


Image courtesy of Mac Morrison at FlickR