From my "Random Slice of Life" file . . . experiences, advice, happenings, and glorious results of a misspent youth.
How I Discovered the Disc Genie
A scratched disc is the bane of every CD collector's existence. Nothing is more irritating than listening to your favorite album and suddenly hearing a skip in the middle of your favorite track. As a longtime music geek and CD collector for 20+ years (my collection is approaching the 1200 mark as of this writing), I naturally want all of my CDs to be in their best playable condition. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially when you buy as many previously owned discs as I do.
Back in the pre-internet era, when dinosaurs roamed the land and CD shopping took place in things called "record stores" (kids, ask your parents what those were), I always made sure to check the playing surface of each used CD that I was interested in buying. If it looked too scratched or scuffed to be playable, I'd throw it back, which led to some heartbreaking scenes over the years.
Take it from someone who knows: It really sucks to finally stumble across a disc that's been on your "want list" for years, only to flip it over and see that it had apparently spent time lounging on a gravel driveway! If only everyone treated their CDs with the same tender loving care that I do! (SIGH.)
The Risks of Buying Used CDs Online
Naturally, the advent of the Internet has changed the used-CD-buying experience, and not always for the better. Rather than scrounging around in a well-stocked used record store where you can carefully inspect each potential treasure, collectors can now simply scroll through eBay, Amazon, or hundreds of other websites that deal in new and used music.
Unfortunately, ordering used CDs sight unseen from online retailers can be a bit like the proverbial box of chocolates—you never know what you're going to get, until it arrives in your mailbox. Fortunately, my batting average has been pretty good over the years, and I've only been burned by a bum CD a couple of times.
Is There a Miracle Cure for Scratched CDs?
In the hopes of bringing those bum CDs back to life, I've tried numerous "remedies" to repair scratched CDs over the years, most of them dubious at best. The most common store-bought "methods" usually involve coating the playing side of the CD with a special "cleaning formula" or some sort of gritty goop, letting that soak on the disc surface for a few minutes, and then wiping it off with a soft cloth. One decidedly low-tech DIY process I've tried used plain ol' white toothpaste (!) instead of any special miracle cleaning formula—and believe it or not, the toothpaste trick actually worked better than most of those store-bought solutions!
No, But That Didn't Stop Me From Trying the Disc Genie
My point is, though I tend to be skeptical about these "miracle cures" for CD repair, every time I come across a new one, I always try it . . . because I simply can't bring myself to throw away a disc unless I'm convinced that it's completely unsalvageable. Therefore, when I saw a display of the "DISC GENIE" on the front counter of my local Walgreens this past weekend, I couldn't resist picking one up. Hey, it was only a buck .99, and the label said it was "AWARD-WINNING"—so what did I have to lose? (You'll notice, by the way, that it doesn't tell you WHAT award it won . . . )
The Disc Genie's label also bears the famous red "AS SEEN ON TV" logo, though I don't remember ever seeing it on TV. Maybe I just don't watch the right channels? Whatever. The package claims that this one little kit can repair "up to 100 Game Discs, DVDs, CDs and more!" That certainly sounded promising, and I reasoned that if this magic Disc Genie actually worked, I might never need to buy another CD-repair widget!
Is the Disc Genie Really Worth a Try? (My Experience)
When you open the Disc Genie package, you'll find a simple cardboard square, slightly larger than the average CD or DVD. One side of the "Genie" is covered in a gray, fuzzy, felt-like substance. The idea, I assume, is that the fuzzy stuff is supposed to "buff" the scratches out of your discs. According to the instructions, all you have to do is place your damaged disc playing-side-down on the "Genie" pad, hold the pad with one hand, and rotate the disc around with your other hand, "in a clockwise, and counter-clockwise motion." It seemed simple enough, so I pulled out four banged-up CDs I'd picked up in a recent online scrounging excursion for the acid test.
Giving the Discs a Spin
After giving each of the discs a good "spin" on the Disc Genie, none of them looked like they'd been "improved" much to me. The directions on the package did note that "Depending on the severity of the scratches, multiple revolutions (20 or more) in each direction, as well as more pressure, may be necessary," so I made sure to give each disc at least a good 20 spins in both directions, pressing down hard enough to make my wrist hurt by the time I was done.
Then there was nothing left to do but stick each of them in my CD player and see what happened. If there was no improvement after all that work, then there would probably be no hope for my little silver friends.
Pressing Play (Fingers Crossed)
HammerFall's Threshold was the first disc into the player, and for a little while, it seemed like this Disc Genie thing had actually done its job. The CD played fine for three quarters of the run time, but just as I was starting to get my hopes up . . . (BUZZ) DENIED! It started skipping on the next to last track. Crap-ola!
Oh well, on to the next one. Ratt's Out of the Cellar didn't waste any time—it started skipping during the very first song. BUZZ again.
On to disc #3, the Ramones' Greatest Hits Live. Once again, BUZZ.
By now I could see the writing on the wall but I threw in Firehouse's Hold Your Fire anyway and held my breath. As you have probably already guessed, that one was a BUZZ too. Ball four, take your base!
I gave the Disc Genie one last chance by "treating" all four CDs a second time and then giving each disc another spin in my player—and still, there was no improvement. Therefore, I am officially calling B.S. on this product. It didn't "repair" a thing. All four of these CDs are now headed for the wastebasket (HEAVY SIGH). Oh well, it was worth a shot, and at least I'm only out a couple of bucks. If it had actually worked, the Disc Genie would've paid for itself after only one "repair" job, so I felt it was worth the gamble.
Just in case I haven't made it perfectly clear already, I am hereby advising all of my fellow CD fanatics to AVOID the Disc Genie. If you see these things on the counter at your local store, do yourself a favor: Just take two dollars out of your wallet and set it on fire. It'll be faster, and the results will be the same.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Keith Abt
Eric Farmer from Rockford Illinois on March 19, 2018:
It took me to get to adulthood to realize that scratching up CDs is a bad idea and putting them away is what you should do. I scratched multiple video game disks to the point they would not play anymore. I even broke a CD in half on accident once as well.
I remember getting something like this as well. It would try to polish the CDs and didnt really work either.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on October 11, 2017:
Hi Bob - thanks for the cool tips, will try some of these out next time I have a skipping disc.
Bob on October 11, 2017:
I have not used the disc Genie but got an anyway to see if I can hack it. the way I repair my discs is by using a Memorex fix Pro. It comes with 3 pads two for cleaning two for repairing and 2 for buffing. I repaired a disc that had five layers of scratches. With these devices the two wheels turn while the disc also turns so it is repairing the desk where the lines would be perpendicular to the circumference. It took me two weeks 2 hours a day constantly pressing the button to repair. But I did revive my precious discs. If you look at the disc closely you might see some fine lines not real deep but very fine impressions. I have other devices that do pretty much the same thing. I use one for buffing one for cleaning and one for repairing. You might want to use white car compound or brown compound. But beware the brown is a heavier Grit. Make sure you use plenty of water in between the disc repair. I actually repaired DVDs they were totally useless and then watch the whole movie without any interruptions. If you have a DVD or CD the label is scratched this is not repairable because the data has been removed. So don't bother trying to repair these. If you use the toothpaste method go perpendicular to the circumference which is up and down and not going around the disc in a circular motion this will make the laser beam bounce in the wrong direction and will not read it. Hope all this helps
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 16, 2015:
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on February 03, 2015:
Yep, I've tried one of those goop-based (haha) "disc repair solutions" as well. It worked about as well as the Disc Genie, which is to say not at all
M. T. Dremer from United States on February 03, 2015:
I had a Simpsons dvd that I tried to repair with one of those magic disc fixers. It had me putting white goop on it before putting it in a waffle-iron-like case and spinning it around a lot. That one didn't do jack either.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on February 03, 2015:
I've never had much luck with them either, but I keep trying these remedies anyway, in the hopes that one might actually work someday! Haha
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 03, 2015:
i tried thos s disc repair gimmick, doesn't work. When a disc is scratched, no hope
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 15, 2014:
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 24, 2014:
Hi twayneking - thanks for the kind words.
twayneking from Puyallup, WA on July 24, 2014:
Thanks for the hub. I like it when real people review stuff. You can't always go by the reviews online or in comments. I've actually been offered money to write rave reviews for products at online shops. It's disgusting and I may be pretty broke, but I hope I'm never that broke.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 01, 2014:
...and it's "Seen on TV" too!! TV never lies, right? :D
Brian L. Marshall on July 01, 2014:
What? I don't believe you because it obviously has to work. It's Award-Winning!