What to Do if Your Wii Is Unable to Read a Disc

A troubleshooting guide for a Wii that won't play a disc

An illustration of two people troubleshooting a Wii that won't play a disc.

Nasha Ashjaee ©Lifewire 

Sometimes a Wii or Wii U is unable to read a disk, or the game will freeze or crash. And, occasionally, the console won't play any disk at all. Before you throw the disk in the trash or the console out the window, here are a couple of things that might get you back to playing games.

What to Do if a Single Disk Won't Play

If a disk won't play properly, check whether there's anything on the disk that would prevent the console from reading it. If you hold the bottom side of the disk to the light you should be able to see any smudges or scratches.

If it's a smudge, cleaning the disk will often fix the problem.Try using the microfiber cloths used to clean eyeglasses or, alternatively, a tissue is second best. Be sure, however, that the tissue doesn't include lotion of any kind. Just rub the smudged spot. (When using a tissue, steam up the spot with your breath first.)

Don't exert more force than necessary; it's a flimsy disk, not a kitchen sink. Once the disk looks clean, put it back into the console and see what happens. If it still doesn't work, find a brighter light and look again; you may have missed something.

A scratch is more problematic. If it's a game you just bought, try exchanging it where you bought it. Otherwise, you can try polishing out the scratch; there's a good instructional article on dealing with scratches at WikiHow.

Some older Wii units have trouble with dual-layer discs, which pack more info onto a disk (games that use dual-layer disks include Xenoblade Chronicles, or Metroid Prime Trilogy). If you have a Wii that is having trouble reading a dual layer disc you can try a lens cleaning kit available at any optical store.

If you've cleaned the disk and cleaned the Wii and it still won't play, it's probably just a bad disc. 

Make sure you are using the right disk for your console. Some people still don't realize that the Wii and the Wii U are different consoles. The Wii U is backwards compatible, so it will play Wii games, but the Wii isn't forward compatible, so a Wii U disk will not play on a Wii.

What to Do if No Disks Will Play

Cleaning the console with a lens cleaning kit is the first thing to you should try if the console isn't reading any disks. If you're lucky, the only problem is a dirty lens.

If cleaning the lens doesn't help, you can also try a system update

If cleaning and updating don't do anything, it's time to contact Nintendo