How to fix CRC errors

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Created: 18 Jul 2007 ::: Last updated: 12 Aug 2007

Applies to:   Win95   Win98   WinMe   Win 2000/NT   WinXP   WinVista   MacOS


By Andy Walker

If you try to open a file and you get a CRC error, don't despair, a few tricks are available to solve the problem.

CRC means cyclic redundancy check. It's a bit of mathematics used to make sure that your data escaped damage during a transfer from one place to another. Errors like this happen most often when trying to open a file from a CD or DVD.

CRC errors occur when a file is corrupt or damaged. But it also occurs under other conditions, and it may be recoverable.

If you get this message, it means that the file your PC is reading or software has a problem. However, the data is not lost forever.

When data is transferred from one place to another, it is usually in a stream of small chunks. Each one is assigned a CRC value. If something goes awry between the time it leaves the source and arrives at its destination, the CRC value assigned at the source won't match the CRC value calculated when the data arrives. It's when this happens that a CRC error will trigger.

CRC errors can occur when your computer tries to read a CD or a DVD. They can also happen when retrieving a file from a hard drive or floppy disk or other media.

They can also occur when a file is transmitted over a network. Once upon a time, CRC errors could happen occasionally when you downloaded a file over a slow dial-up connection.

Any of the following conditions can cause them:

  • The file became corrupted during transmission (usually, when a file comes across a network)
  • The file was sent poorly or under poor conditions
  • The source file is corrupt
  • The program opening the file is damaged or bad

There are several solutions you can try:

  • If the CRC error occurs when your computer tries to read a CD or DVD, simply clean the CD or DVD with a soft cloth. Simply polish it. And try reading it again.
  • If that doesn't work with your CD or DVD, you might consider the SkipDoctor. This tool buffs your CDs and can take shallow scratches out of them. It's very effective. Learn more here.
  • Also try using a free program called CD Check 3

    You can also try opening the file with a different program if it is stored on a CD, DVD or hard drive.

  • If you have CRC errors on your hard drive or you suspect more severe hard drive issues, try Hard Drive Mechanic