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A Step by Step Guide for Dealing With Unfinalized DVD Discs

A Step by Step Guide for Dealing With Unfinalized DVD Discs

DVD FinalizationThere are essentially two possible scenarios that could have led to you having a disc that is unfinalized:

  1. For whatever reason you have a disc and a reading device or software is saying it is unfinalized.
  2. The finalization process was (or you suspect it was) begun on a disc and for some reason failed.

Generally speaking the second scenario results in messages saying that the disc is full (but will not play) or that there is no disc or even that there is a disc, it is empty but cannot be written to!

If the disc you have falls under scenario #1 above then keep reading and follow the instructions for using the Nero software to recover.

If the disc you have falls under scenario #2 I would also recommend reading the following information so that you can get an understanding of what you are doing then skip the Nero software handling and go to the Isobuster instructions lower on the page.

Key Information on DVD Finalization, Data DVDs and Video DVDs

Finalization is done in two ways depending on the contents of the DVD. If the disc only contains data then finalization simply means to “close” the disc so that no further recording can be done.

This action finishes off the contents of the disc and makes it readable to other DVD playback devices such as the DVD ROM in your computer. An unfinalized data DVD can generally only be read and added to by the software that was creating it in the first place.

Unfinalized video DVDs are more complex and MUST be finalized for it to be playable. In this case the software is not just closing the disc so that it can be read by other software and devices.

The video DVD finalization process is also writing a very complex set of files and instructions that tell the DVD player exactly what is on the disc and where it is. What you see of this is are simply the menus and their functionality.

If it is at all possible with any unfinalized DVD try to get the original device used to create the disc to finalize it. If this is not possible or the original device is failing to successfully finalize the disc then read on.

There is no software available that is going to be able to tell you whether you have an unfinalized DVD or a DVD that has suffered an error in being finalized.

It is a “Catch 22″ in that the software will always be stumped because finalization is the key to the software working out what is on the disc. Most software will report the DVD as being either full and unreadable or empty but unable to be written to!

The Good News and the Bad News

In order to recover from unfinalized DVDs you are going to need software. The good news is that there are two software products that can be used and they will give you two bites at the cherry. Actually one will give you one bite plus two more half bites and the final one will give you a half bite as well so I guess that’s two and a half bites at the cherry… but who’s counting!

The bad news is that you are going to have to work out for yourself whether you are willing to pay for it!

The question you have to ask yourself is whether the contents of the DVD are worth the investment in the software. I can’t decide that for you.

The Nero Solution

nero2015-boxThe Nero range of multimedia products have been around for quite some time and have always been at the forefront of technology for burning discs ever since home burning of CDs was first introduced.

Because of that they have probably the most friendly program for dealing with discs that may not have been created by Nero itself.

Nero obviously has a function that will perform a DVD finalization on discs produced by itself but this function can also be very often used on just about any other disc.

Failing that it has other functions that will allow extraction of all the data on the disc regardless of whether it is finalized or not.

In about 90% of cases Nero should be the only software you need.

Now a word of warning here!

In handling damaged, errored or unfinalized DVDs there will be long lags where it appears that the computer has frozen or that the software is doing nothing. BE PATIENT! Take a walk, stay calm…relax! Some of the techniques here may take a long time to complete.

Finalizing a DVD in Nero

Download the Nero Trial Version Here

Place the unfinalized DVD into the computer DVD tray and open Nero Welcome Application.

Click Disc Tools and on the Disc Tools drop down menu click Finalize Disc.

Note: The Disc Tools options (Erase Disc, Disc Info and Finalize Disc) can also be started from the advanced area of the main window at any time as well.

Click the Refresh button to display information about the disc you have inserted.

In the Menus to Create section in the drop-down menu, choose to keep the existing menu.

Click the Start button. You have now finalized a DVD… probably!

Second (half) bite!

If the above procedure fails for any reason, usually because the disc has been partially finalized, we come to your next bite at the cherry!

This next procedure is your last chance at recovering the data from a Video DVD with all the Menus and necessary files and folders intact.

We are going to use a little known function of Nero to pull all the data off the disc and on to your hard drive.

So, again from within Nero:

Open “Nero Recode.”

Select “Recode an entire DVD to DVD.” Make sure the “DVD Video Files” or “Data Files” button is selected correctly for your DVD and the “Fit to Target” button is checked and showing 4.7gig.

Select “Import DVD.”

Recode will now read the contents of the disc and, if it can, write the contents to a folder it will automatically create in My Documents called “Recode.”

Navigate to your “My Documents” folder and you will find the newly created folder called “Recode.” Inside that folder you will find the normal .ifo, .bup and .vob files normally seen in a DVD video folder or you will have your data files in their original format.

In the case of recovering straight data files there is nothing more to as you should now have those files.

In the case of a video DVD you have some more steps to complete in order to get your recovered files into shape for burning to a new disc.

Rename the “Recode” folder to VIDEO_TS exactly as I have typed it including using all uppercase letters and the underscore.

From here you can open your video editing program and use the import or insert DVD files function to navigate to the newly created VIDEO_TS folder and import your files from there.

Alternately the VIDEO_TS folder can also be used to burn a new copy of your DVD using Nero.

Third (half) bite!

Nero Rescue Agent

Rescue Agent is yet another module within Nero that has the sole purpose of recovering data from damaged discs, errored discs or in this case, an unfinlized disc.

The only way to really know if Rescue Agent can read your disc is to put it in to your reader and let it run.

If the software can at least open the disc it will offer you the choice of a Quick or a Full scan. Try the quick scan first and failing that try the Full Scan.

Once the disc has been scanned Rescue Agent will offer to save off the files it has found to a location on your computer. Just follow the instructions.

Note that it is unlikely that Rescue Agent will recover a video DVD with any file structure or menus intact. What it may do is recover the original video files which can then be used to rebuild a new video DVD.

Last Chance Cafe – Isobuster

Isobuster boxGo to and download a copy of the software.

Using the free functions first make sure that Isobuster can read the disc and can report at least the presence of a file structure.

If it can then it is time for you to make the decision as to whether the data on the disc is worth the purchase price.

At this point the best you can hope for is the extraction of the MPEG video files or data files on the disc. You MAY lose any video menu information and you may lose some of the video or data.

It is most likely, at this point, that there is damage to the file structure on the disc or even the disc itself and you are not dealing with a straight unfinalized DVD situation.

Start Isobuster then load the disc.

When Isobuster has detected the files on the disc run the Find Missing Files and Folders option under the File menu.

You will now have an entry on the left hand column of Files and folders found by their signature.

Select that, then go to File, Files found via their signature then Extract files found via their signature. Choose a location and let it run.

You will now have all the files where you selected them to go.

In the case of a video DVD the ones with the extension .VOB are the MPEG files from your disc wrapped in the VOB container. They can then be imported into a video editing program using the “Import DVD/VR” function or can be read by most DVD burning software. ( )

Well hopefully somewhere on this page you found how to fix unfinalized DVDs! If not feel free to hit the “contact” button and I will try to help you in any way I can.