We’ve played digital video discs (DVDs) for nearly two decades now. Daily watching them has been a major time filler of our spare time.
So we’ve experienced and stopped many DVDs from skipping while playing. Neither DVD players, nor discs is immune from this annoying problem, whether a home or car DVD player, whether a cheap portable or most high-end home theater player. No kind of DVD is exempt either. All optical discs, including DVDs will eventually skip, no matter who makes them or what content they carry. So it’s useful for DVD movie buffs to know how to deal with this likely situation. For that, we’re here to offer tips on how to stop the video skipping.
Causes of DVD Skipping During Playback
The DVD is not always faulty. When you see a DVD skipping, don’t throw it out right away. It could possibly be repaired. In fact, the skipping might not be caused by the disc at all. Frequently, even DVDs without visible scratches on the play side can skip. Sometimes, the DVD players themselves are to blame for this. So with skipping DVDs, the least wasteful approach is to determine the source of the skipping in order to avoid wasting money on new players or throwing away good DVDs because you thought they were bad.
The skipping DVD could be damaged, yes. The DVD itself may carry manufacturing flaws, or be scratched or dirty. It may be aging beyond its useful life (estimated to be approximately fifty years). Or the CD may have been damaged by improper cleaning techniques previously.
The DVD player could be damaged. The player itself may be malfunctioning. Perhaps the laser that reads the digital data from those silvery, rainbow colored discs, has weakened due to age or extensive use. Perhaps dust has accumulated on the player’s laser lens, or maybe the player’s laser servos and the motor that spins the DVD are wearing out. Like DVD discs, the DVD players themselves age and gradually develop defects over time. In fact, they wear out at a faster rate than the media itself, and often result in playback that’s full of skips.
Player and disc incompatibilities. Finally, not every DVD player can play every DVD disc without skipping, even when nothing is technically wrong with either. One manufacturer’s DVDs may not be compatible with a particular DVD player, as neither DVDs nor DVD players precisely adhere to the same manufacturing standards in every possible detail. With these tolerances, it’s no wonder that certain DVDs just won’t play in certain DVD players without skipping.
How to Stop DVD from Skipping During Playback
Try the skipping DVD in a different player. If it plays fine there, then consider that if the offending DVD player is more than several years old, then it’s probably time for a replacement player, such as the LG BP350 DVD Blu Ray player. As mentioned, DVD players do indeed age. Their laser light output decreases. This eventually impairs the player’s ability to read the optical data on the discs. With decent sub two-hundred dollar players available these days, it’s senseless to put up with a bothersome skipping DVD player that’s more than five years old, especially if you’ve watched hundreds of movies on it in that time.
Perhaps the skipping player is simply performing to outdated standards. However, if this is the only disc that this player skips on, but the disc plays well in other machines, then this could simply mean that that particular player just won’t properly play that particular DVD. In that case, just don’t watch that DVD in the player where it tends to skip. Remember that some players are better at reading accurately through dirt and scratches than others. This is particularly so of the newer players. Recently manufactured DVD players contain more advanced error correcting circuits and tightly focused lasers than the generations of media players before them. So, while your 1999 vintage DVD player may still function precisely the way it was designed to, those older units just don’t play DVD discs as well, even if the player is brand new old stock. A player upgrade is likely necessary.
Try cleaning the DVD. We detail how to do this in our How to Clean a DVD Disc post. Essentially, you should avoid any chemicals harsher than dish soap. Just use dish soap and water. Wet the DVD with a filtered water and soap solution, gently rub with smooth fingers, rinse with more filtered water, and dry with a lint-free lens cleaning cloth. The washing removes fingerprints, oils, and loose dirt, while the wiping dry with the cloth not only removes the water from the DVD, but also polishes out the microscopic scratches that often cause skipping during play.
Try cleaning the DVD player inside. The player may become dirty inside, depending on its environment. They sell a laser lens cleaning CD, designed to clean both CD and DVD player lenses. We’ve never had good luck with these, but they may work for you, and could potentially save you the cost of buying a whole new DVD player. The cleaning disc has a small brush affixed to the play side. You put this disc into your player, and when the player spins this disc to read it, the attached brush skims over the laser lens, presumably removing dust and dirt from it.
But if the laser lens cleaner does not solve the skipping, and if you feel confident enough to take your DVD player apart, then remove the top cover from home units, and blow out any dirt and lint; particularly from the rails upon which the laser assembly moves upon. Avoid too much air pressure though. A can of residue free air such as pictured next, works well for this.
How to Prevent DVDs from Skipping in the First Place
Take steps to keep your DVDs spotless and clean, before they become soiled. One stitch in time saves nine when maintaining these delicate video discs. To preserve peak performance, avoid ever dirtying the DVDs to begin with. Always store them in their cases when not viewing, and avoid exposing to weather and direct sunlight.
Never touch the data surface. Avoid getting fingerprints on the play side of the DVD. Instead, lift them by edges. Do not grab them via their flat surfaces. This limits the need to ever clean up skin oils from them.
Keep your DVD player clean and cool. Avoid permanently setting up the player in dusty locations, and keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources, to minimize the luring dust into it.
Keep your DVDs out of the sun. Light and heat can trigger breakdown of the micro thin metallic surface of the DVD, increasing the likelihood of skipping. So, to get skip-free playback for the longest time possible, avoid exposing your DVDs to light and heat; especially to the high levels of both that sunshine contains. This is easy if you keep your discs in their opaque cases, and store them away from windows and heat sources such as radiators, machines, audio amplifiers, and so on. A climate controlled environment is best for storing them.
- 2018-02-19: Originally published.