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Disk Scratching

Xbox 360 Disc Scratching – What's Going On?

Disc Scratching Xbox 360Not long after the Xbox 360 debuted, numerous players began reporting that the console was scratching their game discs during play.  The sheer number of players affected by this is staggering.  In addition, no one seemed to understand what was going on. The problem seemed so ubiquitous that numerous third parties launched inquests into the event, in order to determine what was happening with the discs.

If you have noticed circular or "arc" rings/scratches on your game discs, you are affected by this and the information contained below will help you alleviate the issue in the future.


Gamers report that after placing their disc in the drive, they have played the game, moved the console or done something else (not always with the game actively playing on the TV) and, on ejection, discovered that their game was scratched, sometimes to the point of ruin.  In addition, some consumers have reported that their drive makes a loud buzzing noise when the disc is spinning.

What's Happening?

This is another rare instance of Microsoft's documentation being sufficient to help gamers understand what is going on.  While the corporate giant may have their head stuck firmly in the sand about the 3 red light error, disc scratching is one of those topics on which they took an immediate stance.

However, even prior to the issue emerging in the gamer world, there were notes about the potential for scratching. The warning is even included in the owner's manual sent with the console. The warning reads to the effect of "do not move, tip, bump or jar the console when a game is in the DVD tray."  The reason for this is that Microsoft did not include any device to hold the DVD/CD in place during operation.  This is nothing new; numerous DVD player manufacturers and CD player manufacturers utilize the same method.  However, those watching a DVD or listening to a CD are unlikely to tip their player over during operation.

Because there is nothing securing the game disc in place, any tip, bump or jar can tip the disc on its axis, allowing the laser reading the data to make contact with the surface of the disc.  This results in arc-shaped scratches across the face of the disc.  Many gamers have reported disc scratching after they have reoriented the player to display the directionality built into the player indicators in the Ring of Light.

It cannot be overstated, to avoid scratching your game discs, do not move the console while a game is inserted in the tray.  However, the sheer number of gamers affected called for action on the part of Microsoft or the game developers.  Many Halo fans found that their game discs were replaced at no charge.  However, the situation has changed with each successive generation of consoles. Currently, no plans are in place for disc replacement programs through Microsoft.

Certain game retailers may be willing to offer a reduction on replacement disc costs, but you must contact the developer to determine the situation.

Can I Fix My Xbox?

Modifying your Xbox so that discs are no longer scratched up is certainly possible.  This will involve removing the DVD drive from your Xbox, as well as removing the lid from the DVD drive.  You will need four one-inch pieces of foam.  These should be one inch long, ½ inch wide and about ¼ inch tall.

Remove the DVD drive from the Xbox and then remove the lid from the drive.  You will need to locate the laser assembly, which should sit near the front of the drive, within the cutout for the disc. As a note, the laser will be in the base of the drive, and the foam will be installed on the underside of the lid.

Simply install all four foam pads around the area that sits above the disc while in use.  The back and front of the area should be marked with raised metal divots or bars.  Place one piece of foam outside the front divot, oriented horizontal to the lid.  The second piece of foam should go in front of the rear divot, also oriented horizontally.

The two other pieces of foam should be installed on either side of the lid.  One end should almost touch the edge of the lid and these should also be oriented horizontally.  When looking at the interior or the drive lid when you are finished, the result should find a foam pad located in the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions (like a clock face). You can now reassemble the drive and play without worries about scratching.