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Thread: Exploding Discs!

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    Exploding Discs!

    Recently I bought a Blu-Ray internal burner for my PC. I've been meaning to get one for a while, but never got around to it till now. I did have an external DVD-burner, which I got to burn some M-Discs, but rarely used it nor burned any discs. Anyway, I got it all connected and set up, and used it to watch some DVD’s. Less than a week later, the next weekend, I went through my old disc games, and saw a copy of Empire Earth. It installed fine. Then saw a copy of Red Alert 2 I had on disc… popped the Allies disc in the drive and ran the install program. Then got up and walked away, while it was installing. I suddenly heard a loud whirring, which I initially thought must be coming from the outside. Then heard a loud bang. I pretty much figured what had happened. Yep, the disc exploded in the drive. When I opened the drive, shards fell out.

    I got the drive out of the PC (opened) and shook out all the pieces I could. Then re-connected the drive. Put in a DVD or Blu-Ray and no luck. It seems that the laser or something else inside was broken. I checked Event Viewer, for that time and the only clue there was that the drive found a bad sector… so apparently it seems that instead of stopping somehow the drive over-spun and blew the disc up!

    So I went on the internet, and googled it. Only thing I could find was a post that someone’s secretary put a broken disc in and it broke in the drive (seemed dubious). And the other was to a Mythbusters episode, which I ended up watching… in which they basically said what happened to me was something that the average consumer did not have to worry about. And the only way they managed to do it was to manually over spin the disc over any drives’ actual speed.

    The funny thing is, that back in around 2002 the same thing happened to me on a PC CD-ROM drive, where a disc exploded in the drive. And I recall when seeing that same Mythbusters episode years later, I remember saying to my brother that that happened to me then. But at the time I just dismissed it as probably bad programming of the software or firmware.

    Anyway, I got the drive RMA’d and replaced, as I’ve had it less than a week before this happened. I also ended up buying the C&C Collection code on Amazon, for Origin. It was lucky the disc didn’t have something irreplaceable, although I did have that RA2 disc for a while!

    My question is, has anyone had this happen to, or heard of it. As a quick internet search did not say that this is possible. To be honest, I’m surprised this has happened on hardware in 2019.

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    I've seen it a few times, always with old disks, although I can't remember the last time I used on optical drive.....maybe Windows 8 release...
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by shaithis View Post
    I've seen it a few times, always with old disks, although I can't remember the last time I used on optical drive.....maybe Windows 8 release...
    Thank you for getting back to me @shaithis. I thought this was a strange occurrence that only happened to me.. and when I searched on the net, didn't see anything that this has happened elsewhere. And yes, it was an old disc that exploded, and as I said on Event Viewer at that time, the drive reported it found a bad sector. And it was a brand new drive, which is what confused me!

    The reason I got the internal Blu-Ray drive is that I realised that I have a ton of DVD's that I never watch anymore, as at home I'm in front of the PC most of my spare time. So decided to digitize my DVD collection... and now I do watch a lot of the movies I own on my PC now. I also bought my first Blu-Ray disc after getting this drive... and then realised that DVD, the best quality it can get is 720p, while blu-rays do 1080p.... something I can tell the difference on my monitor... but guess it's less noticeable when sitting on a couch in front of a TV.

    I also realised while doing this that 3 of the DVD's which I bought have bad sectors and are completely unreadable. Aliens vs Predator special edition being one of them! Which I bought from HMV in town on the day of release! I can only watch about 30mins of the film now. The disc I think got damaged while it was playing on an upright PS2 back in the day, and while playing, the PS2 had a little fall! Two other DVD's have the same problem... one appears to have no physical damage, but basically the movie data is just not there anymore!
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    happened to me. twice. and you know what? both discs were C&C Red Alert 2, first the allied disc then a few months later the soviet disc. Both were from the same set bought on day of release in 2000/2001. safest thing is to get it, nobble it to run from an iso image and not put the disc anywhere near the drive.


    it's basic fast-fracture mechanics. small imperfections highly stressed (and ra2 does seem to spin up-down excessively IMO compared to other games) act as stress modifiers and cracks slowly propagate until they hit their critical length when *bang* rapid explosive failure.

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    happened to me. twice. and you know what? both discs were C&C Red Alert 2, first the allied disc then a few months later the soviet disc. Both were from the same set bought on day of release in 2000/2001. safest thing is to get it, nobble it to run from an iso image and not put the disc anywhere near the drive.


    it's basic fast-fracture mechanics. small imperfections highly stressed (and ra2 does seem to spin up-down excessively IMO compared to other games) act as stress modifiers and cracks slowly propagate until they hit their critical length when *bang* rapid explosive failure.
    It's interesting you say that, because I think the first one that exploded on me in around 2002 was also one of the Red Alert 2 discs... thinking back, I do recall now that I bought them twice. Back then, my drive was alright after I got all the pieces out. This time, it made the drive completely non-functional... it couldn't read anything!

    I ended up buying a code for the Ultimate Collection on Amazon, shortly afterwards. So now can play the games without worrying about putting the disc in...plus I did want to play some of the other games in the series which I don't have the cd-rom for anymore. The only reason I tried to install from the disc was because it was there... and nostalgia hit me!

    Also, good to know this is not so rare an occurrence.
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Mythbusters tested it and worked out that for a standard disc it would need to spin way faster than drives could realistically achieve.

    Of course though, if a disc is damaged or not made to the required standard... in that case anything is possible.

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    Mythbusters tested it and worked out that for a standard disc it would need to spin way faster than drives could realistically achieve.

    Of course though, if a disc is damaged or not made to the required standard... in that case anything is possible.
    Yeah, I did end up watching that episode again. But it must be something to do with these discs. They were published by Electronic Arts! So you'd think they'll have some standards. Normally, if a disc is unreadable, you just don't get any result. I wish I could find out what they found out happened with the RMA'd drive... although not sure if Scan/Asus will be able to provide that info. Would be good to know what went wrong this time round either way.
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    happened to me. twice. and you know what? both discs were C&C Red Alert 2, first the allied disc then a few months later the soviet disc. Both were from the same set bought on day of release in 2000/2001. safest thing is to get it, nobble it to run from an iso image and not put the disc anywhere near the drive.


    it's basic fast-fracture mechanics. small imperfections highly stressed (and ra2 does seem to spin up-down excessively IMO compared to other games) act as stress modifiers and cracks slowly propagate until they hit their critical length when *bang* rapid explosive failure.
    I didn't have one explode but my RA2 disc did crack
    Jon

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    my bf1942 disc one shattered in a lg cdrw years ago

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Dodgy QC from EA?

    I've got a disc for Battle For Middle-Earth which somehow developer a crack through it.
    Kalniel: "Nice review Tarinder - would it be possible to get a picture of the case when the components are installed (with the side off obviously)?"
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    for all intents it seems to be the same card minus some gays name on it and a shielded cover ? with OEM added to it - GoNz0.

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    My suspicion would be a disc problem rather than a drive over-spinning.

    I do, and always have, used optical discs a lot, mainly for cost-effective data archiving. But, because of that, I've always been careful to buy good quality discs not cheap ones. Over the years, and this starts when blank CDR's were £15 each (and no, that's not a typo - bix of 10 was £150) , I've never had one physically shatter and (so far) maybe 3 or 4 with read problems once elderly. That's out of, oh I don't know exactly but certainly many thousands as I tend to buy about 500 at a time.
    Last edited by Saracen999; 25-11-2019 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Tpyo's
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Terbinator View Post
    Dodgy QC from EA?
    Won't surprise me if this is the case. Then again, not sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    My suspicion would be a disc problem rather than a drive over-spinning.
    It could be, but that does not explain the loud whirring I heard before the disc exploding... it was really loud (like the motor was over-working), which is what worried me once I figured out the sound was coming from my desktop. And it was lucky I was away from my desk... as my initial instinct if I was sitting at my desk would've been to open the drive tray... I don't want to imagine what would've happened then (if it did open of course). Either way it was an odd behaviour.

    I've not used as many CD's as you, but I have used 1000's at least, without a problem. So I don't see this as a common problem either. But would still like to get to the bottom of the cause of this problem, but probably never will.
    Last edited by Scryder; 25-11-2019 at 08:51 AM.
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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    when my CDs broke they split radially and one side lifted vs the other so it formed a part helix a bit like a spring washer. To rest in this shape means there was residual stress in the intact disc. This planar normal stress in the minor direction will sum with any planar stresses caused by the disc spinning. I think the disc simply wasn't tough enough to prevent micro crack growth and the residual stress meant there was always some stress at the crack site even when the disc wasn't spinning. tldr crap disc quality

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    Re: Exploding Discs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scryder View Post
    Won't surprise me if this is the case. Then again, not sure.



    It could be, but that does not explain the loud whirring I heard before the disc exploding... it was really loud (like the motor was over-working), which is what worried me once I figured out the sound was coming from my desktop. And it was lucky I was away from my desk... as my initial instinct if I was sitting at my desk would've been to open the drive tray... I don't want to imagine what would've happened then (if it did open of course). Either way it was an odd behaviour.

    I've not used as many CD's as you, but I have used 1000's at least, without a problem. So I don't see this as a common problem either. But would still like to get to the bottom of the cause of this problem, but probably never will.
    It might well explain the loud whirrring, though.

    The discs, in normal operation, are spinning pretty quickly and the drive mechanism clamps the centre of the disc down. If the disc is physically breaking down, or cracked, etc, it could destabilise the disc itself and something spinning fast, when destabislised .... well, I'd expect a significant increase in noise. And vibration.

    It may even be, and I'm not a hardware expert, that firmware recognises that instability and/or vibration and attempts to stop it by varying drive speed to 'setyle it down'.

    Of course, you heard it and I didn't so you'd know better if that sounds plausible.

    But I think you're right - you'll probably never really know.
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