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DVDs like audio CDs are as tough as old boots, as you discover if you ever try to snap one in half, but they can be easily damaged by careless handling. Obviously you look after your discs, put them away in their library cases after use and store them upright and away form extremes of heat and humidity but if you rent discs you have no way of knowing how well they've been treated. The chances are they've had a rough life and if the picture freezes or pixellates the odds are the surface of the disc is dirty or scratched. 


When that happens you've got two choices, you can waste an hour of you life and return it to the store in the hope they've got a spare copy unlikely on a Saturday night and it's a popular new release or you can try a spot of first aid. First off give the disc a wash, a drop or two of washing up liquid and a gentle wipe over with a clean soft cloth works wonders on greasy finger marks, pizza cheese and gungy stuff of unknown origin. Rinse it off under the tap and dry it thoroughly before you put it back in the machine.


If that doesn't work examine the surface of the disc under a strong lamp and you may well spot some scratches or scuff marks. Providing they're not too deep these can often be removed with a spot of light polishing. The polishing kits sold for audio CDs usually work very well. They contain a small container of a very mildly abrasive polishing solution and a cloth. Follow the instructions, especially the bit about using gentle pressure and small circular movements.


In an emergency, the scratches are deep or the disc is not recoverable and you've got nothing to loose then you could try a few drops of Brasso metal polish applied with a new soft clean duster. It's a little more abrasive than regular CD cleaner polish, so take it easy but it can actually do a very good job. Incidentally CD polishes and good old Brasso also do a bang up job of recovering CD-ROMs and even video game discs.




R. Maybury 2001, 2707


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