Why Does My DVD Skip or Freeze?

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Scratches or dirt on the bottom of an optical disc are the most common source of playback problems.

If your DVD skips or freezes, it is a sign of a problem with the disc or the player. Anything that obstructs the laser's ability to reflect off the inner surface of the disc can cause playback issues, as can problems with the data itself. Identifying these common problems can help you determine what steps are necessary to restore your movie watching experience.


Dust Or Scratches

The most common source of playback issues is when dust or scratches on the bottom of the disc interrupt the laser's beam, preventing it from reading data. Take the DVD out of the player and inspect the bottom surface. You can use a lint-free cloth to wipe away dust, moving in straight lines from the center of the disc outward. If the disc needs further repair, a number of different commercial products are designed to buff out minor scratches and render a DVD viewable again. Scratches in the upper surface of the disc can be more serious, however, due to the closer proximity to the data layer.


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Recordable DVD Problems

In the case of recordable DVDs, errors during the burning process can result in playback problems. Any movement of the computer or burner while the laser is writing can result in bad data, as can memory overruns or other software errors. To avoid possible problems like this, ensure that no memory-intensive programs are running before you burn a DVD, and take care not to jostle the computer or desk until the burn is finished. In addition, burning at a slower speed than your drive's maximum may reduce write errors and playback issues.


Manufacturing Defects

If the DVD is a commercial disc, it is entirely possible some error in the manufacturing process caused the playback difficulties. DVD production facilities have quality control systems, but with the volume of discs manufactured annually, it is inevitable that some errors will slip through. If a single disc is causing problems, and shows no signs of physical damage that might explain them, it may be a defective disc. Unfortunately, these types of defects are permanent, and you will have to return the disc to the retailer for another copy.


Player Problems

If the playback problems are not limited to a single disc, the problem may lie in your DVD player. Dust or other debris inside the player can partially block the laser beam, preventing a clean read from the disc and causing skips and freezes as the hardware attempts to decipher the data. Using a lens cleaning disc can remove these impediments, restoring normal playback functions. If you clean your player's lens and are still having major playback problems, it may be time to invest in a new DVD player.