A smudge or scratch on a CD-ROM can obscure key bits, making the disc useless. But before you throw it away, try cleaning it with a soft cloth and mild, soapy water. Wipe gently from the centre of the CD outward - never in a circular motion.
Repair kits, available from larger computer stores, may also help.
Alternatively, a new product called DataProtect may be used to prevent CDs from being scratched. DataProtect is simply a clear plastic film which is applied to the readable side of a CD.
A DataProtect starter kit ($9.95 RRP) comes with an applicator and five adhesive films. Additional films can be purchased in packs of 10, 50 and 100, with pricing starting at $14.95.
DataProtect is available at music retailers and department stores, says its distributor The Lomis Group.