Have you heard of the "Click Of Death" (COD)? If
you are a Zip drive owner I would strongly advise you learn all
about it as quickly as possible because the COD may be waiting
to steal your data when you least expect it. I had heard about
the COD back in 1998 but did not pay much attention to the stories. After all there
were many, many Zip drives in use. Surely Iomega must have solved
the problem. So imagine my surprise in April 2000 when out of
a clear blue my 100 MB Zip drive started clicking away and having
great difficulty reading the directory contents on one of my
data backup disks. I had only used this disk twice before and
it had worked fine. I inserted another disk with previously recorded
data and again my Zip drive started clicking away. After the
clicking sounds, the directories for each disk eventually did
come up but I could not now write to either disk. I know I had
not write protected these disks. What to do? I was not about
to risk losing anymore Zip disks. I called my friend Tony Schulz
and drove over to his house. Tony had just bought a new 250 MB
USB Zip drive. His drive could also read and write to 100 MB
Zip disks. We tried my disks. Tony's drive also had difficulty
coming up with the disk directories but it did not exhibit the
clicking sounds. We managed to copy my data to his hard drive
but we could not write to my Zip disks. Yet Iomega's software
said my disks were not write protected. The only option left
was to reformat the disks. After reformatting, Tony's drive could
write to and read my disks with no problem. This whole experience
certainly gave me a sinking feeling. To think that the Zip drive
format that I had depended upon for archiving my precious data
and backing up files was in fact not dependable.
Next I turned to the Internet and a search to find out more
about the COD. I will not go into detail here but just point
you in the direction of several sites that have done an excellent
job of providing all of the necessary information.
If you own a Jaz or Zip drive you need to check Coping
With Zip And Jaz Drives at http://pw2.netcom.com/~deepone/zipjaz/index.html.
This site has a lot of great information on things like Drive
Configuration, Software/Driver Issues, General Usage Tips, and
Special Questions & Troubleshooting (http://pw2.netcom.com/~deepone/zipjaz/special.html).
It was on this Special Questions page I found the question "My
Zip drive is clicking! Or what is Click of Death?" The answer
was to go to Steve Gibson's Zip & Jaz Drive Click of Death
Research Resource Page (http://grc.com/clickdeath.htm).
You may remember Steve Gibson's name from SCPCUG member Ed Hughes'
article on Internet Security "Safeguarding Your Internet
Steve Gibson has put together a detailed report covering many
pages on this "Click Of Death" problem. There is a
lot of reading here but well worth it. Steve has pages devoted
to answering the questions "What is the Click Of Death?",
"How can I tell if I have the Click Of Death?", "What
can I do to prevent it?", "Is it contagious?",
and "How can I cure it?" In "The anatomy of a
Zip drive", Steve gives you a look inside a Zip drive with
an explanation of how the internal parts work. If that's not
enough, there is a page devoted to answering Frequently Asked
Questions about the Click Of Death. All of this is must reading
for any Zip or Jaz drive owner.
"Trouble In Paradise" (available at http://grc.com/clickdeath.htm)
is a Freeware program written by Steve Gibson for Zip or Jaz
drives. This 52 KB download will help warn of impending data
loss and/or drive failure. Wish I had known about this program
before my Zip drive failed.
You may be wondering what Iomega has to say about the COD.
Not much! The COD by name is never mentioned. I found one page
under Iomega Support that mentioned Zip drive clicking
Iomega seems to be keeping a very low profile on the COD. If
you want to find out what is going on in the real world try the
newsgroups alt.iomega.zip.jaz and alt.iomega.zip.jazz.
If you want to go back further than the current messages use
as I had suggested last month. Alt.iomega.zip.jaz is at
and alt.iomega.zip.jazz is at http://www.deja.com/[ST_rn=fs]/group/alt.iomega.zip.jazz.
There are a lot of sad stories out there. Some people are on
their third and fourth Zip drives.
So what is the bottom line. Well it seems Iomega "may"
replace a drive, even if it is beyond it's one year warranty,
if you can prove to them you have the COD problem. This will
take a bit of persuasive talking on your part. Steve Gibson's
site has all of the info on what you need to know and say. It
appears that Iomega will also replace some Zip disks that have
experienced the COD.
Now here is the sad part of this story with respect to my
100 MB internal Zip drive. I purchased an OEM (Original Equipment
Manufacturer) version. (OEM is actually a misleading term. An
OEM company is really a customizer. They buy in bulk from the
original manufacturer and then market a customized version under
their own name.) The OEM Zip drive I purchased has NEC Corporation's
name on it and came with the standard one year warranty. I bought
it on the Internet for $65 plus $9 shipping in Feb 1999. The
retail Iomega version was selling in the stores at the time for
$100. Sounded like a great deal! My drive was made in Oct 1998
and I installed it in Feb 1999. So it was used for approximately
14 months (just out of the one year warranty) and probably has
less than 25 hours of actual run time on it. I used it to archive
data files from my scanner, photos and graphics, wav and midi
files, etc. I also used it to backup some critical data files
like the SCPCUG website, my personal website, and my browser
bookmarks, addressbook, and saved messages.
Since my Zip drive does not have Iomega's name on it they
will not replace it. The same applies for disks that have been
the victim of the COD. Iomega will only replace disks with their
name on it although they make the disks for everyone. I have
chalked this whole experience up to another one of life's lessons.
I will also never purchase another Zip drive as I feel there
must be an underlying design problem which Iomega has yet to
solve. Reading the newsgroups mentioned above clearly shows these
drives are still failing with the COD.
So while pondering what to do for archiving and backup, another
seemingly great deal came about. Office Depot (http://www.officedepot.com)
was offering the
Smart and Friendly (http://www.smartandfriendly.com/)
4x4x24x CD SpeedWriter RW Internal CD-Recorder for $130. That
sounded like a good deal since the Smart and Friendly web site
was offering a reconditioned version of the same model for $179
and Office Depot was claiming I was getting an instant cash rebate
of $70 off of their normal price. A bit of clarification may
be in order for those not familiar with the meaning of 4x4x24x.
That means this CD-Recorder will write at 4x speed (600 Kbytes/sec),
will rewrite at 4x speed (600 Kbytes/sec) and will read (or playback)
CDs at 24x speed (3600 Kbytes/sec). If you are interested in
the history of CD-R (recordable) and CD-RW (rewritable) recording
checkout an article written by Hugh Bennet titled Call It
Erasable, Call It Rewritable at http://www.emediapro.net/cdrompro/0996CP/bennett9.html.
Although this September 1996 article is a bit dated it contains
excellent information. And if you have any questions at all on
CD-R and CD-RW recording go to Andy McFadden's CD-Recordable
FAQ at http://www.fadden.com/cdrfaq/.
This is a very comprehensive and well organized site.
Meanwhile, back to my Smart and Friendly CD SpeedWriter. According
to the box "more than $1100 of software and accessories"
are included. I don't know how accurate that dollar figure is
but the list of included software is impressive. In addition
to Adaptec's Easy CD Creator Standard Edition (http://www.adaptec.com/products/faqs/ecdc.html)
that most, if not all, CD-Recorders come with, the bundled software
included PowerQuest's Drive Image (http://www.powerquest.com/driveimage/index.html),
Sonic Foundry's CD Architect and Sound Forge XP (http://www.sonicfoundry.com/Products/NewShowProduct.asp?PID=13),
Diamond Cut's Audio Restoration Tools 32 (http://www.diamondcut.com/Catalog/dcart32.htm),
MediaPath's CD-Quickshare with MediaAgent32 (http://www.mediapathtech.com/cdqfaq.htm),
and ECI's Disc Inspector Pro (http://www.eciusa.com/ps/gettingstarted.htm).
Besides Easy CD Creator, I'm not sure yet how much of this software
I'll actually use. Some of it seems quite sophisticated and tailored
toward the professional but it's nice to know I have it just
in case a need arises.
So now I am saving my files on CD-R and CD-RW disks. It is
a lot cheaper than buying 100 MB Zip disks at approximately $8
each. I can fit 650 MB of data on a CD-R disk that costs about
40 cents when purchased in bulk as 50 blank disks on a spindle.
I am very pleased with my Smart and Friendly CD-Recorder. It
does a great job of recording data CDs and I have also used it
to make custom audio CDs to play in my car CD player. There is
just one thing that could ruin my day again. I have seen recently
on the Internet several references to Smart and Friendly having
financial problems and speculation ranging from the company trying
to reorganize under Chapter 11 to it may be out of business.
Since it is a privately held company, information is not readily
available. Their website is up but makes no mention of the company's
present financial status. So the question arises as to what this
means with respect to my one year warranty. Guess I'll keep my
fingers crossed that my CD-Recorder keeps on working.
Note: Web Master Wanderings
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