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Once hailed as “indestructible” and “the last format you’ll ever have to buy,” compact discs have proven to be fragile, vulnerable to scratches, pitting, cracking, and warping. The best way to recover data from a CD is to thoroughly clean and polish the surface using optician’s polish, good-quality whitening toothpaste, or Brasso applied with a soft, lint-free cloth. Move the cloth from the center outwards in a straight line; do not polish in a circular motion as this will exacerbate problems. Next, insert the damaged disc into your computer and see if it will play. If it does, copy the data onto a hard drive or flash drive. Before attempting to play a damaged CD, you may want to download specialized software—such as CD Recovery Toolbox, IsoPuzzle, CDCheck, IsoBuster, or Roadkil’s Unstoppable Copier—to assist your recovery efforts.
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