Free CD and DVD Error-Checking Software

Avoid data loss or media corruption

If you use a CD/DVD burning program that features a disc-verifying option, you might already know that this useful feature is great to make sure there are no errors in the discs you burn.

But what if you accidentally scratch the disc at a later date and want to check that all the files are still readable? A disc-checking program is an essential tool that you can use to scan CDs, DVDs, hard disks and other types of storage media.

Best for Testing Without Installation: Ariolic Disk Scanner

Ariolic Disk Scanner

Ariolic

What We Like
  • Free drive/disc tester for most Windows versions, including 10, 8, 7, and Vista.

  • Can scan any disk you can see in Windows.

  • Identifies all damaged files.

What We Don't Like
  • Read-only scan includes no fixes.

Along with being a great little utility for scanning hard drives for bad disk clusters, Ariolic Disk Scanner can also check CDs and DVDs for errors. It tests the entire surface of the disc and displays good and bad clusters in real time.

This Windows program doesn't need to be installed, so you can run it from any type of media. Copying it to a USB flash drive, for example, lets you carry it around to check several computer setups.

Works With All Versions of Windows Through XP: Emsa DiskCheck

Emsa DiskCheck
What We Like
  • Analyses fixed, removable, and optical discs.

  • Compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't export scan results to file.

  • No documentation is included.

  • Formerly free software now requires a small fee.

Emsa DiskCheck for Windows is another media-checking utility that you can use for CDs, DVDs, and other types of media. Just like Ariolic Disk Scanner, it has a simple interface that's easy to understand. An interesting feature of Emsa DiskCheck is being able to see other statistics about the ​CD or DVD you're working on. The statistics section, for example, shows you how many files are on the disc and how much space is taken up. You can also measure your drive's ability to read the disc by looking at the speed statistics.

Best for Recovering Files From Discs Windows Can't Read: CDCheck 3

CDCheck 3.1
What We Like
  • Good for use with older versions of Windows: 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, and XP.

  • Free for personal use.

What We Don't Like
  • Hasn't been updated in a long time.

  • Registration is required for free version a 30-day trial.

CDCheck3 is probably the most well-known disk scanner for the Windows platform. This feature-rich application can scan for errors in several ways. It can check the contents of CDs, DVDs, hard drives and other types of media for errors and can also create and read hash files. CDCheck can also be used for comparing folders and files, which is a useful feature if you want to compare the files written to disc with the source files normally stored on your hard drive. CDCheck can also double as a file recovery tool to recover files from a disk that Windows can't read. Overall, a great utility to install to keep a check on all your media.

Best for Windows Troubleshooting: VSO Inspector

VSO Inspector
What We Like
  • Works on all modern Windows versions.

  • Provides a ton of information.

  • Well-organized interface.

  • Actual success rate data.

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too technical for some.

VSO Inspector is a relatively new option that works across all current versions of Windows, including Windows 10. It excels at providing you with a ton of relevant information about both your DVD drive and the disc inside it. VSO Inspector lets you know information about the sectors of your disc, which ones may be problematic, and the order in which it's reading. This one is a fantastic option for helping you pinpoint exactly where a problem may occur.

Best for Use With Linux: Brasero

Brasero
What We Like
  • Open source.

  • Very simple to use.

  • Integrated into a DVD burner.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't provide much information.

Linux users shouldn't feel excluded here. While you can use lower-level command line tools to analyze your disks, you probably already have a graphical program installed that can perform a quick check of your discs. Brasero is the default GNOME DVD burner, but it also can check your discs to make sure that they're working correctly. The interface is straightforward, and you can perform a scan in seconds.

Install Brasero from your package manager on nearly all Linux distributions.

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