Aug 23, 2008

Recover files--the easiest way

Simple and (hopefully!) free procedures to handle unsuccessfully finalized DVDs, damaged DVDs or DVDs that have not been burned correctly by a video camcorder,recorder or burner and has some corrupt data.

It is a good idea for you to first consider other possible causes of what appear to be DVD errors such as a dirty disc surface, a dirty lens in the DVD reader or other software and hardware related problems. Prior to embarking on any of the following you need to eliminate all possible causes for having trouble with a DVD. Check to see your DVD burner has the latest firmware by going to the manufacturers website. Check to see if the media (brand and type) is compatible with your DVD burner/reader. Once you are certain that you have an unsuccessfully finalized DVD or a corrupt DVD you can get started.

Scratched DVD Disks

A simple visual inspection of the surface of the disc will tell you straight away whether your first problem is physical damage to the disc. If you can see a scratch or scratches on the surface then this may need to be addressed first. I say "may" because personally I use DVDFab to check to see if the disc will copy before I embark on any other course of action. DVDFab can read through a lot of surface errors because of its superior algorithms so I always take the lazy route and see if I can simply make a new copy. Now failing that you could go online and buy some expensive DVD scratch repair kit. Or you could do as I do and go to your local hardware store or even your own garage! All you will need is a bottle of any neutral colored (clear) car polishing product. Turtlewax happens to be the one I use. Take a VERY soft cloth (NOT paper towel), apply a little polish to the surface of the disc and GENTLY (remember, it's not a car!) rub the disc. Use straight strokes from the centre of the disc to the outer edge and continue to do this until you can see the scratch either disappear or reduce noticeably. Then using the same motion and fresh cloth buff the disc back to its original shine. Now try it with DVDFab. If you are still unsuccessful repeat the process until you can be certain, again by visual inspection, that the problem is now not coming from a damaged disc surface.

DVD Data Repair/Recovery

The software you can use for this are DVDFab, Nero 8 (trial) and Isobuster. In the case of Isobuster you can try the free features first but failing that the full featured version needs to be purchased. A straight search of Yahoo or Google will find you the relevant sites.

Put the problem disc in the DVD drive of your computer then:

1. DVDFab. Try to use DVDFab first, as it has the best algorithms for reading anything on a DVD including how it integrates with the DVD drive, honestly sometimes I think it would read a bagel if you put it in there!

Select "DVD to DVD." DVDFab will now try to read the contents of the disc and, if it can, write the contents to a folder on your hard drive. It is as simple as that. It is either going to work or not! If it does do it then the copy you now have on your hard drive will be fully repaired and you can then burn a new copy.

Failing that:

2. Isobuster. Using the free functions try to make a disc image file and burn to another DVD. Isobuster has three alternate methods of dealing with data corruption. It can replace the corrupted area with nothing, with fake data or with a series of zeros. It will give you the choice and just select them in order to try each until one works. Isobuster will not create the disc image file unless it knows it will be successful. If Isobuster has created the file (note where it was going to put it first!) you will have to re-name the extension to .iso. Use the disc image file to burn a new DVD disc. At this point, if you now have a new disc, you need to check that new one carefully. There is always the possibility that Isobuster has just made a perfect copy of your faulty disc! So now you have a brand new faulty disc!

Failing that: You will need to pay for the full version of Isobuster but ONLY buy it if you got this far. If Isobuster free couldn't even read the disc then don't bother.

>From this point forward the best you can hope for is the extraction of the MPEG video files or data files on the disc. You ARE going to lose the video menus and you may lose some of the video or data.

a. Start Isobuster then load the disc.

b. When Isobuster has detected the files on the disc run the "Find Missing Files and Folders" option under the "File" menu.

c. You will now have an entry on the left hand column of "files and folders found by their signature."

d. Select that, then go to "File," "Files found via their signature" then "Extract files found via their signature." Choose a location and let it run.

Now you will have all the files where you selected them to go. The ones with the extension .VOB are the MPEG files from your disc wrapped in the VOB container. They can then be imported into a video editing program using the "Import DVD/VR" function or can be read by most DVD burning software.

Unfinalized discs.

If at all possible try to get the original device used to create the disc to finalize it. If this is not possible or the original device is failing to successfully finalize the disc you may have to resort to the Isobuster routine above.

If you have been left with an otherwise perfectly good disc, but unfinalized, do the following.

This requires Nero 8 (Trial version).

Go to the Nero website, download and install Nero 8. Yes, it's big...sorry!

Place the unfinalized disc into the computer DVD tray. Open Nero 8 StartSmart.
Click "create and edit" at the top of the screen.
Click "author, edit and capture video." NeroVision 5 will start.
Click on the disk tools drop down menu then click "finalize disk."
In the option box that appears choose "no menus" and let it run.

Hopefully you now have a fully finalized disc that is readable.
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