RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Apr 16th 2010 at 07:27:57 PM by (slackur)
Posted under Disc Rot, Buying, Selling, Collecting

Normally my blogs contain humorous little diatribes or reflective thoughts on gaming and collecting in general.  However, I feel the very pressing need to make a PSA to the gaming and collecting community at large:

Sellers, PLEASE start checking your games for 'disc rot'.

YES, it exists.  I've bought half a dozen games this year alone, online, that had this problem upon arrival, including Panzer Dragoon Saga and several Turbo CD games.

What is disc rot? 

Well, first let's explain what it is not: an indication of someone handling the game poorly.  Unless there is a scratch on the top layer of the disc that ends up appearing similar to disc rot (a tiny nick on the label can look similar), the problems are separate and unrelated.  For some of the games I purchased, the seller felt cheated because of the claim that there were no scratches or problems with the disc and that it was well taken care of.  Disc rot damage is typically unrelated to how well one takes care of the disc.

Disc rot, as far as my research has shown, is due to bad disc pressing during the manufacturing process.  Apparently microscopic air bubbles or other contaminants may get trapped in with the information layer between the outer polymer layers.  Sometimes the pressing may be slightly uneven.  Or the thin lacquer protective layer is compromised.  In any case, over time the information layer is oxidized in these tiny pockets and 'rust' or 'rot' pieces of the information layer.

If you want to get more technical, check out:




In any case, the best way to check for this type of damage is to hold the disc up to a bright light source (older incandescent bulbs work much better than the newer CF) with the center hole covered for eye protection, and look around the surface for tiny (some are VERY tiny) dots of white light.  An easy way to make sure that the white dot is disc rot is to check both sides of the disc- the hole goes through both sides, from top through to the bottom.  The white dot is simply the light behind the disc passing through the entire disc, as there is nothing in the information layer to block or reflect the light anymore in that little location.

Here is a picture I took of a game with a single disc rot hole- (its the white dot on the disc above the camera reflection.)

And another angle- (this time the white dot below the camera reflection.)

Even though it is only one little dot, it represents damage that cannot be repaired.  No scratch removal process can restore the data that is now lost.  The game is forever damaged, and likely to get worse over the years.

Now, many sources online will claim that disc rot is a limited-scope problem, concerning only a few years worth of discs from certain manufacturers, (and CD-Rs) and that it is not wide-spread.

But when I learned about this problem, I checked my several hundred discs between Sega CD, Turbo CD, Saturn, and even Dreamcast games and found DOZENS had this problem.  Several expensive games I owned were mint- except when held to the light I could see one or more little white dots that proved my game had damage.  Some of these I went back to play after not touching for years and found they now would occasionally lock up or not play at all.  I had a few FACTORY SEALED games that I opened and found the same thing.

It has been a nerve-shattering nightmare for a collector like me.

But the problem was just getting started.  I realized that I bought disc rotted games from everywhere in the country- it wasn't local or just a regional issue, like the north or New England states.  Even imports were suspect: I have a copy of the PC-Engine Rondo of Blood Castlevania that is now laced with a small star-pattern of disc-rot that at best makes it skip the music, and at worst occasionally keeps it from loading.  That was a Christmas gift from my parents when it was NEW!

And now, whenever I try to buy games online, be it Ebay or even a private seller, no-one knows what I'm talking about when I ask for them to check for this problem. 
I purchased a game just weeks ago from a private seller.  I asked that they check for disc rot and if I could return it if I had any problems, they assured me it was fine but I could return it if need be, and when I received it I noticed it did indeed have disc rot.  When I contacted them, complete with pictures of the damage, I was cussed out by a very angry email and the seller accused me of swapping their flawless disc for a damaged one.  They even claimed I was setting them up because I asked about it before the sale!

(In this seller's defense, they did apologize later and offered to exchange.)

Before that I ordered a lot of seven CD games from a different seller, asking for them to please check for disc rot, and explained what to look for.  They claimed the discs to be fine, and when I got them, three were very visibly disc rot damaged.  I contacted them and explained, they responded angrily that the games were fine and were treated very well.  They agreed to a return, I sent them, and despite several messages sent, they never responded again.

Before that I finally broke down and bought a replacement Panzer Dragoon Saga online from a seller that offered returns.  After arriving, I found disc rot on the fourth disc, sent pictures and an explaination, and after several months they finally got back to me.

As you can see, this is not a small problem.

So please, sellers, THOROUGHLY check your discs against a proper light source, and be understanding if a buyer finds this damage. 

I'm getting so sick of this problem, and no one seems to realize how big of a deal it really is.
At times I fell like the one guy in the room screaming at the top of my lungs about this and no one believes or knows what I'm talking about.

Big time classic collectors, my heart goes out to you if you read this and check your collection for the first time- it will likely break your heart like mine did.  If you have a few hundred Sega CD, Turbo CD, Saturn, or even older PC CD-Rom games, and you look long enough, you likely have at least a few disc rot damaged games.  But at least in the future you can avoid spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on games that look flawless until you know what to look for.

So please, pass this info around so us collectors stop getting messed over!

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Dammit.  I'm actually reading this before I lay down for the night, so this article has the honor of ruining the last five minutes of my day.  While I do not have a large collection of Sega CD, Turbo, or Saturn games, I have been looking to expand my Dreamcast games by a small number, and I do have a good number of older PC games.  I'd also like to hear from the community if this phenomena also extends to the PSX scene...

With a little bit of luck, we won't be seeing disc rot on DVD-ROMS.  I can't help but think that disc rot (if is both progressive and represents a large percentage of old discs) is going to firmly solidify the beliefs of collectors who back up their disc-based games for personal archive purposes (to protect against extinction, something like the original purpose of MAME).

Dammit, this has the potential to really ruin things (or at least mess them up quite a bit).
I can't explain the whole 'town cryer' feeling I've had over this for years. 

I have a few PSX games with disc rot: it is harder to see because it shows up as a dark blue dot instead of white (the outer polymer layers are dyed a purple/blue as opposed to the standard translucent CDs.

Be careful with Dreamcast: just a few months ago I bought a Gigawing 2 from a store that knows to check for disc rot, and I still ended up with a disc rot game.  It was at the beginning of a 14 hour one way trip and we were gone for a week, and when I got back I couldn't find the receipt Sad
I have many Dreamcast games with disc rot- I think it's because of different disc pressing techniques for the then new 1gig discs they used.

Do the games still play fine? I mean... I have a crapload of disc games and movies and they all work perfectly fine (I'm assuming that a good deal have disc rot).
It depends.  Since most games do not 'fill up' the entire available space for data (imagine a record with only five minutes worth of grooves covering the whole album) the location of the disc rot can miss the valuable data.  Or it might be in a location where the data is redundant and the laser can track it elsewhere.  Similar to the results from a bad scratch, the problems may be anywhere from nothing, to game-breaking, to skipping, or not loading/booting up. 

Worse, if a disc already has evidence of disc rot, there's no reason to assume it doesn't have the same problem for the same reasons elsewhere in the disc and will continue to get worse.  I know some of my games have. 

And of course, to a collector, damage is damage.  The disc in question is no longer mint, and if it is knowingly sold as such it is a dishonest practice.
It is extremely disheartening to hear that it is such a prevalent problem.

Exactly how many systems has it been confirmed on? I had somewhat recently decided to heavily collect disc based games PSX/2, GCN, Xbox/360
I guess I don't really notice this or am not that picky. I have cds that are over 20 years old that are just fine.

Thank you for the post. I'll make sure to check my disks from now on to see if this is a problem.
@s1lence: I also have many CD-ROM games that are very old (were there conventional CDROM games before 1992?), but I also have games that are only 11 years old that do have disc rot (Zombie Revenge for Dreamcast to name one).  As far as we are concerned, Slackur is correct.  Once there is disc rot the game is no longer mint, and for some titles they loose a massive amount of value.  But even if you are like me and the condition is not the primary value, this does affect game play.  This isn't some made up condition and should be taken seriously.

The good news is I think it may be limited in scope. While I do not have a very extensive collection of PSX games, I have found none that have disc rot.  Also, none of the PS2 CDROM games I own have it.  Contrast this to my Dreamcast collection, where 8 out of 21 have it, and 3 out of 22 for my Sega CD.  I'd like to also find out which games on the PSX have it, and if there is some soft of detectable pattern.
Yeah, it sounds like Dreamcast issues seem to be common.

Guess I'm going to check my discs over.
...I guess I should be crossing my fingers about my Sega CD games. I have Snatcher and Keio to check when I get home.
And here, I thought disc rot was only something I, as a Laserdisc collector, had to be concerned about.
I've been going through my collection as we speak, haven't found anything yet
over half of my dreamcast collection is infected with disc rot and ive known about the condition for years but slakur came up with an article far better than anything I could hope to write. And honestly I thought it was a well known problem. GD-Roms are the most commonly affected video game media to my knowledge, probably because they where made on a very tight budget (especially towards the dreamcasts end) and by the simple stuffed full of data design that was the GD-rom.
Dreamcast is indeed very suspect for disc rot, as has been noted here.  Also above the 10-15% disc rot ratio for me personally has been Sega CD, Turbo Grafx CD/Super CD, Saturn, CD-I, 3DO, and music CDs and PC CD-Roms in the 95 to 2000 range.  PSX, PS2 and up seem to be under the 5% percent range.  Interestingly, I've found a few A/V forums that are noticing some Blu-Ray discs already showing disc rot, though only a few specific titles.  DVDs appear largely to be under 5%.

These averages aren't just from my own personal collection, but from my observations working in electronic media retail for over a decade.  Between mom-and-pop gaming stores to Gamestop, these are the estimates I've loosely recorded. 

Also somewhat scary is that once you know what to look for, you start finding TINY holes that are incredibly easy to miss.  I've done a once-over on many discs in mom-and-pop stores and conventions, only to get them home and find easy-to-miss disc rot.  And unfortunately, it stopped some of them from working, from the aforementioned import of Rondo of Blood and Panzer Dragoon Saga to Beyond Shadowgate, Gate of Thunder, G. Darius (PSX), Enemy Zero, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei and House of the Dead to name only a few.  NOT cheap dates.

You can probably see why I'm so passionate about this.

Some games I'm replacing two or three times over.

I just checked all my disc-based games after reading this and I found that my copy of Sonic Adventure has a bit of disc rot. That probably explains why it never loaded past Tails' workshop...
Very good article. Unfortunetly, this means I gotta go through my disc collection and check things out.
Very informative. I've heard about it many times, but having the visuals and detailed information was extremely helpful. Thanks a ton!!
Hrmm... that might explain things a bit.

Previously I thought disc rot was only limited to Laserdisc media.  Dreamcast was always picky with scratched discs and just worn out GD-R drives.  The one thing that always bugged me about sellers is that they just load the game up to the title screen and call it working most of the time.
Since i was shelving my XBox games last night i checked my few dupe titles.
Madden 2005 has a pinhole and you can actually see 80% of the disc art through the back.

I already knew what disc rot was (although I was under the impression that a humid climate speeds up the process, guess that isn't true) but I didn't know it was such a widespread problem.

It's a damn shame that so many great systems (Dreamcast, Saturn, Turbo CD, ...) seem to be affected by this problem. I really do hope that the disc pressing process has become better over time because it would be very, very annoying if like 5 years from now, disc rot PS2 games would start to show up everywhere. And in 10 years time, 360 & Wii & PS3 games. That would be terrible.
I just checked my meager SegaCD and DC collections, and found no rot on them. As for seeing 80% of the artwork through, when you use a strong enough light, the mylar is actually not completely opaque. This is normal. Just as long as you don't see actual pinholes like in the article, you're golden on the visual inspection.
I was using the light from a 40watt energy saver bulb. Across the room and behind a lampshade lol

What i was seeing was more bronzing that rot i think. Same problem(destroys the disc info) but i think a different cause.
Bright light is crucial in making the holes visible.  The poor or even average lighting in game stores and on convention floors are the main reason I miss disc rot even when I'm looking for it.  I started carrying a Mag-Lite mini flashlight for closer inspections.  I keep one with my collection guide, just in case.  It might sound a little silly, especially when people look at you as you are inspecting the disc, but lemme tell you, I've saved myself hundreds of dollars and more than a little heartache by checking on the spot. 

Last convention I went to, I found a seller with about 20 rare/uncommon Saturn games I didn't have.  After checking with the flashlight, I ended up handing 13 of them  right back to the seller.  I couldn't believe that many were damaged- he probably stored them in a humid environment, which is known to speed up the deterioration.

As for CD bronzing, Izret101 is right- similar destruction of the information layer, but due to a slightly different chemical reaction.  Both still originate with bad manufacturing processes and improper protective lacquer sealing.
@slackur: Ah! So the humidity thing I heard is true!

@Izret101: I have a few (I think 1-2) discs that show some bronze coloration myself. It's Jet Set Radio Future on the Xbox and another game which I can't remember. Last time I played them, they worked though.
Let me clarify my last comment about disc storage, because it may sound like I'm recanting what I stated about disc rot not being the owner's fault.

Several sources I've read state that storing discs in humid environments speeds up the disc rot deterioration, as heat tends to do to chemical processes.  It makes logical sense to me, but I'm not a chemist or engineer.  As I've always kept my discs well within the optimum standards of temperature and humidity, it is not a claim I myself have verified.

The seller I mentioned above had so many Saturn games with visible disc rot that I wondered if he had them in improper storage, such as a warehouse without temperature control.  The extreme temperature changes would theoretically quicken the already set disc rot, and more games that had it would be more visible.  The point would be that disc rot starts as a manufacturing defect and gets worse over time, accelerated by improper care.  Discs kept in improper care can be assumed to get damaged over time, but I haven't seen any data that would show it resulting in disc rot.  If the lacquer is hot enough to break down, it seems there would be other evidence of damage to that disc from the heat.  However, it makes more sense (to me at least) that humidity would more greatly affect already present contaminants.

Same thing with storage around acidic components, such as paper sleeves and inlays.  Even the booklets included with most games pressing against the CDs could cause an acidic chemical reaction over the years.  Again, for the more paranoid out there, the purpose of the  protective lacquer layer is to prevent such things, and unless there are problems with the pressing, it should do just that.

Back to the seller, of course the guy might just have been scamming with a bunch of damaged goods he picked up, but he looked honestly confused and a little surprised when I showed him the disc rot.  Maybe he was a good actor.  I just try to give the benefit of the doubt. 
I just went through my loose Sega CD games, and found a couple with the rot. Two games just had one hole, but another one had 6 or 7 holes. The light in my game room wasn't bright enough and neither was the sun on this overcast day, so I used a small LED flashlight that I take garage saling and it worked nicely. I just held it under the disc a half inch or so and scanned the surface of the disc and the holes just lit up.
I usually just carry the light for when I go into a house or garage that has poor lighting, but it will really come in handy for check for bit rot. I plan on using a larger LED light at home though to check my current collection.
T-15914H  ... is Pandemonium! for Sega Saturn.
A few days ago I asked an ebay store selling Turbo CD games to check 4 titles I wanted to buy.  I sent him a link to this article and asked him to look for disc rot and get back to me before I would purchase. 

Got a return email yesterday.  Turns out, he found disc rot in 2 of the 4 games.  Now I can buy the others feeling a lot more confident.

Guys, this is great- if any of you buy classic CD video games, especially online, please start asking sellers to check for this problem.  It doesn't have to be this article in particular, just anything online to help a seller know how to look and what to look for.

If we all request for this check in the future, not only will we avoid buying damaged games, but we can create the expectation that sellers will list disc rot as part of the disc condition: in the same category as scratches, label markings or stickers on the disc. 

I promise you, it will go a long way toward making classic CD game collecting easier.
I have a question. As a seller, what can be done with rotted discs? Are they still sellable as "disc rot" specials or should the discs just be thrown out? Or should they just be saved for buyers that don't ask if the discs are rotted? (I wouldn't do that, but I know there are people out there that would).

I can very easily see sellers not voluntarily listing disc rot as a part of the condition, because its like they have a perfectly good disc, then check it for rot and if its there, that disc is suddenly no good and they just lost money. And they can't really list the rot free discs because that would make anything that didn't specify very suspicious. Maybe if the word of disc rot gets out there and all collectors are aware of it, and resellers can check the discs before they buy them, it could happen. But I don't see that happening for a year or two after the disc rot topic has been integrated into the hobby.

Your observation there is exactly the problem I've seen.  There have been a few times I've emailed a seller and they found disc rot on a game, or I've shipped back a disc rot game, and the seller just re-lists the game for sale without mentioning the problem.  I've even had a seller tell me to quickly ship the game back so they could resell it to someone else.  It's terrible, and I make a list of sellers that I won't deal with because of such issues.  I usually try not to make too big a fuss to them, I just make a note to myself and don't deal with them anymore. 

The sad part is that, after so many problems, it now keeps me from many of the popular sellers of hard to find games online.  After I have seen that they hassle me over disc rot or admit they are going to resell without mentioning the damage, I mark them off my list for future purchases.

Now its getting hard to find sellers whom I trust anymore.

NES, I myself consider disc rot a notch worse than 'badly scratched' in terms of condition.  Sure, it might play fine, but you never know if one day you'll try to load it and it never works again.  That scenario has happened to me a few times.  Worse, often scratches can be repaired, but disc rot damage is forever. 

I've thrown some out (the last one was Project Justice for DC, worked for awhile and then stopped altogether.  Replaced the disc with a loose disc I bought, threw out the disc rot one.)  Some of the more obviously damaged ones I've even mailed to sellers in addition to their damaged game so they might more easily see the type of problem I'm referring to and better see what to look for.

I've gotten burned with this problem for so many years, it seems a pipe dream to still think that it will become something people in our hobby check for as frequently as other kinds of damage.  But this thread has given me a little renewed hope that, as NES mentioned, it will one day be integrated as a more global understanding.
Wow, I am sorry that you happen to have this issue as well.  I have had 6 so far in 2010 that had this issue and it has drove me up the wall as well.  All but 1 was from the same seller and every single one was a Sega Saturn game.  This has also taken down moral over trust on online dealers, but I stick to my few that will not screw me over.  I also check every single disc on atleast 1 system to make sure it works before I ever send them out, 6 years no issues to date Smiley  Oh yeah I totally respect your collection, it looks real nice Smiley

Jimmy Lynn Sanchez
@The Official SP1SC:
Thanks!  One day I'll get pictures up. 

While I hate that another collector has had as many problems, (6 is my count this year too) it is actually a bit refreshing to hear of others in the same boat.  Start to wonder if its just me after awhile, you know? Smiley  Still, I feel for ya.

And kudos to an honest seller!  If you have any other sellers you'd recommend, especially for online stores or people with older  CD video games you trust, please pm me.  I'm sure looking for them.

I'm sorry I just don't see this as a big issue. Every single game I have that's on a CD works perfectly fine, every DVD I own works perfectly fine. There's a high probability that some of them have disc rot. I'm not convince by this article.
@yassassass: You say that there's a high probability that some discs have disc rot, but then you say you're not convinced that they do? I don't exactly understand your argument there.
@yassassass: Do you use all those discs on a regular basis? Just putting the disc in and having it load doesn't mean that any disc rot hasn't harmed the contents. The bits of information lost might be at the very end of the game where you haven't noticed. And sure, the game may have played fine all the way through the last time you played it, but if that was years ago, things very well might have changed.

@ApolloBoy: I think he's saying that while he does believe in disc rot, he doesn't believe it to be a big problem.
@ApolloBoy: I know about disc rot, what I'm saying is that I don't think there's a high probability of it affecting the actual games... I mean, I would assume more people would mention it. As is this is the first time I heard about disc rot legitimately affecting games in the 17 or so years cd games have existed. I mean, this isn't the only videogame site I frequent by a long shot, but this is the first time I've heard about disc rot being presented as some astronomical problem.
@yassassass:I honestly hope you never have problems with it.  But I can promise you it is a serious issue that affects more collectors than they realize, and it is a documented problem, just not a well-known one.  That's why I wrote this article.

Its really sad that I read your post just now; let me explain why.  I just got a box literally yesterday that was the exchange I received from buying a disc rot game.  In that box were several Turbo chip games, and two CD games.  You guessed it, both had disc rot.  One of them was Splash Lake, and it was sealed new.  I opened it, checked, and found several holes.  The other was Gate of Thunder, a game I used to own and have played through many times (lately on WiiWare.)  Gate of Thunder had no visible scratches and only two tiny disc rot holes. 

I still wanted to play Gate of Thunder, so I popped it in and played through the entire game.  About half way through the music began skipping, and it even stuttered during gameplay a few times.  During the last four stages, the music would cut in and out every few seconds.  I finished the game on that playthrough, but I'm not necessarily convinced that it will work even that well in the future. 

I'm the original owner of a Rondo of Blood Castlevania for PC-Engine Duo, opened it new myself for Christmas in '94.  Worked perfect for almost ten years.  Then the game music began skipping.  Then an occasional stage would not load.  Now if I get the mental wherewithall to actually try, I can get through the entire game maybe half the time, never with all of the music playing.  Still no scratches on the disc, but there are many visibly disc rot holes.

And here's where it really gets into sob-story territory.  Opening Splash Lake gave me the idea to go ahead and open my sealed Turbo CD games I bought at CCAG last year.  If you checked my collection you'd notice I now have 4 fewer games listed in my collection.  Out of the 5 bought, 4 had damage.  I paid extra for new, sealed games.  For a collector, that's money down the drain.  For a gamer, that's wondering which one will be the next Rondo or Gate of Thunder.

I have dozens of games like this.  I still have most of them because I don't think it's moral to sell them damaged.  Its the denial that this is a real problem that lead me to write this article, after buying dozens of games that ended up having disc rot.  If there's any way you can think of that I can prove this to you other than the documentation and anecdotal experience, PLEASE let me know.  I have games on Turbo CD, Sega CD, CD-I, 3DO, Saturn, Dreamcast, and music CDs that either no longer play correctly or play at all, and many were bought new.  How else can I prove this?

Man is this frustrating.
I've been thinking about disc rot quite a bit lately, and now I'm considering selling off all my disc-based games and using backups instead of the originals. I'm afraid that some of my most valuable disc-based games like Symphony of the Night or Tail Concerto are going to fall prey to this someday, and it's going to be very costly to find replacements for those games.
I'm a bit late to this...I heard of disc rot years ago when dealing with laserdiscs, but never with games...doesn't surprise me, tho.  Great article and posts!
Thanks for this article.
I had no idea what disc rot was until now and I'm going to go through my collection to check things out.

It is a bit disheartening to know that there is nothing you can do about it Sad
Just thought that I'd mention that on my Dremcast lots I just put on eBay, I mentioned that the discs were bit rot free. Maybe that will help raise awareness among a couple eBayers about bit rot. If I get any questions about it, I'll be sure to point out this post.
I think this has to be the most comments on a blog then ever before Smiley
@NES_Rules: That's very encouraging.  I always have to ask, and most of the time I miss the sale and/or the seller doesn't know what to look for ("But it is mint!  No scratches!).  If I ever see a listing for CD games that are checked for holes, I'd even pay a little extra for the peace of mind and the effort from the seller.

@Link41: The feedback has been mostly positive, and I'm wondering if there is a way to carry this further (if it can be) and put it up in something like a forum topic or just leave it as is for linking as a reference.  I'm already labeled as a pin-hole Nazi (to put it kindly) to some people.

I put in my two cents over this debate at DigitPress a few years ago and had several people argue that the problem didn't exist, people with thousands of discs never reported problems, or that the pinholes did not effect data integrity.  It discouraged me until a few expensive yet ruined purchases online this year pushed me over the edge to write this post.
@slackur: I think I remember that thread on DP.
I was going through PS1 games today to sell, and almost every one that had bit rot wouldn't play. But a few, some that had a bunch of holes even, played for the few minutes I tested them just fine. So I think its entirely possible that a bit rot damaged game may be perfectly playable. At least for now, but my thought is that if there is one hole, then its entirely possible that hole can spread to a larger area like rust growing under the pain on a car, eventually it will get to a crucial part of the code and the game will be unplayable.

Also I just wanted to say its incredible how badly rotted some of my discs were, a couple literally looked like Swiss cheese.
@NES_Rules: It amazes me also how some games have only one or two holes and won't play, or some have a constellation of holes and seem to play fine.  Most games don't take up the entire disc by a long shot, have redundant data on the disc, and use disc space for things that the holes might take awhile to get to in-game, like the soundtrack or textures found late-game.

And your thought about more holes developing over time is consistent with my understanding of the problem and, more importantly, my observations of my own collection over time.
I have a (probably simple) question about looking for disc rot.  I just checked my copy of Symphony of the Night (PSX) and it didn't seem like there were any holes like the ones pictured, but I could barely see the light through the entire disc.  No point of white light, just always purple tinted, faint light.  Is the entire disc effected or is this normal.
@BigJessT: Nope, that sounds normal.  PS1 discs are dyed a dark purple/black color unlike your typical semi-transparent disc.  Unless you see a while dot like the picture above you should be good.  Some discs are more translucent than others but data rot always shows up as bright as the light source behind the disc (which is why bright lights are crucial for testing.)

So thankfully, your disc seems fine from the description.
@slackur: That is perfectly logical. Game A could have just one hole, but if that hole is on an essential part of the data, like the game engine or anything like that, you're screwed. Game B on the other hand could have a couple of holes, but if those holes take away a texture for level 25, part of the music for level 19, and other non-critical data, well then it'll probably play just fine until it reaches level 19.
Thanks for this info I resell games and dvd's on ebay and will now include disc rot in the condition area. What I really came here looking for was if anyone could recommend a program to check data integrity on game discs and dvd's so I don't have to watch/play them the whole way through any suggestions? Thanks Enigmaohawaii
Glad this topic is still being read and spread. Smiley

@enigmaohawaii:Sorry, I never found an actual data integrity program that doesn't seem too glitchy to completely trust.  Years ago when I was tech support for a university, we had an actual machine just for checking disc data integrity, but I haven't seen one since.  Considering our collection, I should look into one again...
There were a couple options I discussed with people. One is possibly doing an MD5 hash check on the disk - redump.org has verifiable MD5 hashes. Another is using a program that verifies that all sectors on the disk can be read via CD-ROM/DVD drive, but that only works if the media can be read by your PC's drive and it's spotty at best.
Well thanks for letting me know there may be options guys. I was wondering if I would get a response from anyone since the last post was so old.
I just took awhile because I wanted to follow up myself.  Unfortunately, as Shadow mentioned, there are some techniques to test but nothing seems to be completely 100% reliable.  Which means, when testing the absolute reliability of a disc, its kinda worthless. Tongue

And no worries about old posts.  True to the nature of us retro gamers, we recycle threads or anything else we can still get use out of.  Smiley
Dude that's not disc rot. It's just missing pigments on the label side of the disc. Disc rot can be seen without a light source. Quit being so picky
Literally every one of my ps3 and ps4 games has a couple of little pin sized holes when held up to the light. It's just a manufacturing defect when the label is printed onto the disc. It's not disc rot so quit trying to make people paranoid over nothing. Geez
@Davidaz1978:lol I see someone found my pic that randomly showed up in a CAG forum.

As mentioned before, I've bought a disc new, it played fine. Over the years these pinholes emerged, and the disc no longer played correctly.  This has happened dozens of times, particularly with the older CD media systems.  After extensive research to make sure I understood the issue, I posted this article to be helpful, not as a scare tactic. Over the years I've had other collectors discuss this same issue with me, and their experience mirrored my own.

Sorry we disagree, and feel free to disregard the advice in this article. But I do completely stand by it.
I wish my 6 year old Blogs got resurrected and had 50+ comments!!
Even if it's just to criticize? Smiley
That's how all best friendships start, right?
Lol. Ahhh the nerds of America unite. Crabmaster? Where did you come up with that name? Some people I swear. Worrying about little holes in cds and doing research on such nonsense is a compete waste of time.
@Davidaz1978:I'm actually a nerd of Canada Wink
Four OLD pictures i referenced here and may have linked to on the forums before. Good example of disc rot:

Feel free to share the slide show. I should still have both discs kicking around somewhere. Better camera now and more time has passed so maybe damage has progressed.
I'll try and dig them out again sometime and take new pictures.
@Davidaz1978: Just because you haven't experienced it, and your "pinholes" haven't caused you problems, doesn't mean it isn't a problem. Being able to see through the data layer of the disc means that you're missing data, and for some manufacturing processes and systems (Sega especially for most of their optical media) it's not as fault tolerant on the seeks. Location is everything on these holes too.

Also, please don't come into a community you know nothing about just to start shit. I think your comments (and account creation) is a complete waste of time as well, so I'm going to guarantee it is. Enjoy your ban.
Thanks, guys. Lots I wanted to say, but I didn't want to feed the troll.  I think he had plenty of chances to prove he wasn't just here to start stuff.

Love this community. Smiley
I love the fact that this blog post has the id #1337. Smiley
The Hammer of Izret is strong and swift.
@Crabmaster2000: Is that some sort of Canadian honorific, or something ;P
@Davidaz1978: You could sign your name, Crabmaster2000, NOC.  Your medal would be a Silent Service pin with a maple leaf riding on it.
@bombatomba:Cheesy I approve of this.
I want some trolls on my old reviews.
@Shadow Kisuragi:HAHAHA
I became aware of this years ago, not for video games, but for actual data storage.  Once upon a time, CD's (650-700MB) were looked at as a viable means to backup data, and particularly for archival purposes.  The reason being that they were much cheaper than tape, had similar capacity, and were touted as having a shelf life of 50-? years.

It wasn't six months after I was researching a way to use CD's to archive data when I read about disk rot.  I have been fortunate to not have run into it much so far, but I have definitely seen it.

I am surprised that this isn't completely common knowledge by now as the story I am telling was from the year 2001.
@Davidaz11978: Congrats, you know how to get a new IP. Didn't last long, did it?
This blog post has risen from it's grave... Now I need to go and play Altered Beast again.
I think I feel kind of sick after reading this. I'm no collector or reseller, I'm more of a hoarder, but I have a very deep-seated fear of time and decay. Somehow it never occurred to me that games could rot, too...

I'm too afraid to check. Like I said, I'm not a reseller, so it won't hurt anyone if I continue living in blissful ignorance...
@Shadow Kisuragi:

You do realize that what he said isn't wrong, right? Davidaz11978 was spot on. If you can see the chip on the artwork side of the disc, it's clearly not rot. It's a manufacturing defect during the silk-screening process. This is especially prevalent on blu ray discs. You can already see through them when you hold them up to light. If you see a pinhole on a blu ray disc, if you flip it over, odds are you can see there there might be a dot of the artwork missing. Nothing to do with 'missing data' as you so adamantly and ignorantly stated.
Except the post wasn't about Blu-Rays? Blu-Rays are a lot more fault-tolerant due to the laser and technology.
Very good post, one of the top matches when researching this via google. I have a fairly substantial PS1 collection and a small but rare/expensive Sega CD set. I'll be spot checking some ps1 games later this week, and all of the Sega CD games. I was wrestling with the idea of selling off my Sega CD collection and I'm afraid this pushed me over the edge. If they havent already showed signs of this then I'm afraid having the thought at the back of my mind that they can all decay is more than I want to live with.

I'm more concerned with the ps1 games. It's a large collection that took me years to collect in the early 2000s and I do not want to part with it.... nor replace any of the games that have since raised 5-10x in price.

I have a very large PSP collection as well, I wonder if those discs are susceptible to this as well
Those tiny pin holes in the 90% of the cases are minor manufacturing defects that existed there since day one. A checksum with dedicated software will show no errors existing on those discs.

Collectors who go back and check their discs after reading horror stories and thereafter finding those tiny pin holes do not realize that these pin holes most probably have been existing on their discs forever since the manufacturing date. Many of my PC Engine CD games have a tiny pin hole somewhere. A checksum reveals no errors other than the sector 3440 copy protection error which is prevalent on the same sector for many different PC Engine CD disks that I tested. I also played through and completed one of those discs: CD Denjin- no lags, shutters, or loading issues. The hole was a tiny one, and will be the same tiny one in five years from now: I will come back here to report in 2022!

If a real disc rolthole is in existence then you do not need very strong light to see through the disc. Strong light sources will reveal imperfections which are due to the pressing procedure.

Discs end up playing worse and worse because our console lasers turn weaker and weaker in older systems. PC Engine CD lasers are notorious for breaking up.
@postulio:  I wouldn't worry too much about it now, certainly not enough to sell off entire chunks of your collection.  Look at it this way, if you have the collection just to look at, disc rot isn't going to do much to affect that.  You can always back up the games you already own, or at least the ones you don't want to lose.  Emulators aren't nearly as perfect as I would want, but if it means that I get to play some of my old games after the physical media has deteriorated, so be it.  Granted you may feel differently (which means this isn't helping you at all), but at least you know there are avenues left for you, but only if you act.  Cheers.

@dzikos80:  I've seen the pinholes that you are talking about, but have you seen the larger holes that disc rot causes?  Just because none of the games you own have them, doesn't mean they don't exist.  slackur has a pretty substantial collection, so if the phenomenon is real, he would likely have a lot of physical proof.  I have seen it as well, though not on any of my games.  But I also back up all my disc games, so I'm not too worried.  If I found that my copy of Sonic CD one day had disc rot, I wouldn't fret too much; I have a backup, and since my Sega CD died a couple of years ago I wouldn't even need to switch systems to play them.
@dzikos80: Agreed that it does reveal imperfections, and not every imperfection is going to cause problems with your disc read or even the information on the disc, since there are redundancies. A checksum is the perfect way to determine whether or not your disc has suffered any damage, but unfortunately it's not practical when you're buying from someone that doesn't have the resources to check. Having a high-powered light makes it easier to see in an area where you already have some level of lighting around you.
@bombatomba:Disc rot exists but it is often confused/miscommunicated as it being either
(i) the existence of pressing-procedure pinholes (these even exist on some ps3/wii u games) or
(ii) the label side scratch damage on cd's.

When checking some of my sega cd games with pinholes, I could see the scratch on that same spot on the label side. As a rule of thump, well taken care of discs are fine. Loose discs or heavily scratched discs have pin holes. Not because of scratches alone on the data side; But because scratches indicate careless handling in general and thus often a scratched label side too.

PS: My collection is certainly more substantial than slakur's. Enjoy:

@Shadow Kisuragi: Agreed, data are not everywhere and not always necessary for playability. Esp. cd audio can still play without a problem as you know, even when data are missing. Taking good care of a fully playable game (even if it has a minor or two pinholes -NOT disc rot - but pinholes-) will keep it playable for many years ahead.
@postulio: Someone needs to run a 5 year experiment:

Take a cd based game with, say two pinholes on it and take a high def picture of the disc surface behind a strong light source, every 3 months. After the end of the 5 year experiment, check pictures to see if the holes remained same in number/size. If yes, this is a sign (not cause effect relationship though) that pinholes are not disc rot. If more holes appear, even though the handling during photo shooting was surgically perfect and no other use occurred, this would be an indication of disc rot.

Temperature and humidity during the experiment should be normal (70-78f and no more that 60-65%).

At the same time, in parallel, the same experiment occurs in another disc from the same production plant, with similar pinholes, this time in a very humid basement (80% plus).
@dzikos80: I can tell you that, over the years, I've seen physical disc rot on a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga with it not being played. It tends to happen with Sega optical media, as their production had severe issues. I can't honestly say I've seen it outside of Sega optical media, because it's what I collect, but I've had to replace a few discs that had large chunks of data missing.
Since this post is over 7 years old maybe you can write a follow up with some info on how your discs are holding up 7 years later.  I'd also like to know if you are doing anything about the problem.  The only solution, I assume, is backing up the games.  This is something I would like to do but I have no idea what type or brand of blank media to buy or what is compatible with each system (can old consoles read archival grade gold discs?).  I haven't made a "backup" of a game since the late 90s so I'm out of touch with the world of copying discs and modchips.  Looks like I need to do research.
@eccoboy:Thanks for the interest! I may yet revisit this with an update, but truth be told I got so much absurd negativity and pushback from folks that didn't believe me on this, I honestly am not sure if it is worth it.  I'm not referring only to the posts here, I used to reference this article to folks I wanted to buy things from, and more often than not I was called a liar and a troublemaker (I'm using my nice-words version here) and even had sellers refuse to sell afterwards.

For many years now, I only buy optical media I can see and test with a flashlight.  I'm still on the lookout to replace several hundreds (thousands?) of dollars worth of old games that just don't work anymore. I don't mind backups, and for a few titles I really like, I just picked up repros as a precaution.

Making backups is something I should really look into, but since the only PC I currently own is a broken Surface Pro 2, I'm a ways away. :p
@slackur:  Yeah it seems that you are the only one talking about disc rot in video games.  I've never once had a problem with any of my hundreds of game/music/movie cds, dvds,  or blu rays.  I looked at some of my old Dreamcast, Saturn, and PC Engine discs and they are in perfect condition so I'm not too worried at the moment.  But it's something that I've thought about (even before I found this page) so maybe one day I'll look into making backups.
I just realized I haven't ever commented here before, I've certainly talked about this post elsewhere....

It's surprising people have given slackur grief over it. I for sure have discs that have this, ones I bought new and have stored nicely.

In the late 90's I bought a stack of GQ cd-r's new from Fry's, and have had that stack ever since. They never worked 100%, some did and others didn't. Over time they have developed holes and dark spots in the data layer that weren't there when new. It fits in with what this article is about exactly.

Though I could see someone disagreeing about a particular instance of whether a problem is rot or not, questioning disc rot itself as outlined above is pretty silly in my mind.
I actually found this article while doing a final project in my masters degree classes for library and information sciences, when talking about preservation.  I think disc rot is a really good reason to have video game history emulated for the sake of preservation.  If it's already deteriorating to the point of never being able to retrieve data off of these discs again, then what will happen when it's all gone?  Thankfully you will still be able to access the information and experience it with emulation. 

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