How to Fix an XBox 360 Unreadable Disc

Updated April 17, 2017

Microsoft Xbox 360 game discs are high-density storage media that incorporate up to 9 gigabytes (GB) of densely packed game data. The more data stored on an optical medium such as the Xbox 360's high-density DVDs, the more sensitive it is to marks and scratches. If your Xbox 360 game disc is not playing correctly within the system, it's likely that the disc has marks that need to be removed before it can be played. Some marks can be removed by cleaning; others must be removed by professional resurfacing.

Moisten a clean, lint-free cloth with a moderate amount of glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol. The cloth should be wet but not dripping.

Grip the Xbox 360 game disc by its edge, making sure not to touch the read surface (the unmarked underside of the disc).

Clean the Xbox 360 game disc with the moistened cloth. Use smooth, straight strokes from the disc's centre hole to its outer edge. Game salesman Ben Barrett explains: "You should never clean a disc with circular motions. Those can cause scratches that do more harm than the marks you're trying to remove."

Examine the game disc under a light. If the marks have been removed, the disc should now be playable. If the disc still bears marks after a thorough cleaning, it is scratched. Scratches can be removed by a professional disc resurfacing company such as those found in the Resources section below.


If your game disc contains scratches that are visible through the label side of the disc, it cannot be resurfaced. However, you can install a borrowed or rented copy of the game to your system by selecting "Install to Hard Drive" from the "My Xbox" menu of the console. After installing, insert your scratched copy of the game and launch it from the "My Xbox" menu: as long as the system can identify the game disc, the game will boot from the system's internal memory.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol
  • Lint-free cloth
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About the Author

Nick Grimes was first published in 1998. Since then his work has appeared in the New Zealand Listener, Evening Post, City Voice, Turbine,, and Gamesradar. He has a master's degree in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand.