Gathering Data 101 (by Tony Fortunato)
Just What Do You Think You're Doing? (by Paul W. Smith)

Bad CD, Bad DVD! (by Casey Mullis)

You ever have those days when everything just seems to be going bad? Wish you ever could recover and start over? Why do we have days like this and what do we do to salvage them? What about when our CD or DVD goes bad and all our family photos were on there? Are they gone forever? How can I tell if data is written to a CD or DVD? Do not fret, as we are going to tell you how to check a CD or DVD to see if data is written to it and how to recover them if they go bad for unknown reason(s). For everything else, who knows?


We all know that data gets deleted by accident and we know how to recover it in most cases. What if you did not delete or erase the data from a CD or DVD? How do you even know if the disk has data on it in the first place?

Take a look at this image. It is an image of a disk that has no data written to it. It is ready for data but it has none on it.


Yes it is dirty and has scratches, but make note of all the features as the next image has data written to it.


As you can see the disk has two distinct different colors to it. If the disk were full you would notice a small portion of the inner edge with silver but the rest would be a blueish or grayish color, depending on the reflection.

When you put the disk in the drive, your computer screams at you “What the Hell you want, there is nothing here!” At this point on a disk that you know and can see that data has been written to it, you have to make a choice. Do you need what is there? Is it backed up elsewhere? Once you deem it a requirement to recover the CD or DVD, now how to go about it in a manner that does not break the bank.

This is where FTK Imager by Accessdata, comes in to play. Put the disk in to your disk drive and open FTK Imager. You will see the following:


You will see a green plus sign just below the FILE button in the top left, select the green plus, to the far left like so:


A window will open that will give you a selection. The window that pops up is as follows:


Once the window pops up, select “Logical Drive” like so and click “Next”:


This will give you a list of logical drives on the system; you want to select your CD/DVD drive from the list. Each system may label the drive differently, so the best way to know which one it is open your “Computer” or “My Computer” and see the drive letter assigned to your CD/DVD drive.


Once you load the Logical Drive, in most cases even with bad CD’s or DVD’s; FTK Imager will show you the drive like so:


Once expanded, you will see a tree of things. I have noticed that the tree maybe many sessions or tracks. Either way in the session or tracks you will find your data, as below:


You can select the entire drive or just the file you want exported by right clicking on the folder or drive and choosing “Export Files” as below:


You have now recovered your un-readable CD/DVD with a free tool by Accessdata. Thanks for stopping by and we look forward to hearing back from you, so we can make the next one better.



Author - Emory Mullis has been in Law Enforcement for roughly 19 years including military and civilian law enforcement. He started learning about computers back when Gateway 266 MHz was the top of the line and cost about $2000.00.Right out the box, I was compelled to take my new found 266 apart. Why I have no idea other than pure curiosity. Once I had the computer out the box and on the floor in pieces, my wife walked in. Trust me people; this was not a good thing! Either way I got a good understanding at this point on how a computer is put together and / or the components inside. This was my starting point with computers and I still hear my wife in the back ground “It better work when you put it back together!” That was my humble beginnings as a Cyber Investigator. Now with many Cyber cases under my belt, I have learned that you must question, challenge and test almost daily to keep up with all the new tools, software, computers and cell phone formats to be able to forensically acquire evidence and it is a real challenge. I enjoy the challenge and look forward to learning more every day!