Click Death will get YOU! Zip & Jaz Drive
Click Death Research
Click Death will get YOU!

Hi, Steve Gibson here ...

As you probably know by now, SpinRite 5.0 now runs on the very popular ZIP and JAZ drives. This is especially interesting since these drives are beginning to experience a strange type of problem:

Some form of still-mysterious "disease" befalls some Zip and Jaz drives, causing all or part of the data on the removable cartridges to become unreadable and inaccessible.

Iomega Corporation has reportedly finally acknowledged this problem. PC World Magazine and "BugNet" have both reported:

Iomega has acknowledged that as many as 100,000 users of Zip drives have suffered the "Click of Death." The name refers to a sharp clicking sound that can mean the Zip disk is trashed, as well as the Zip drive itself. Reportedly, trying to read a disk that has suffered the Click of Death in another Zip drive can also trash that drive. There is no known fix or work-around, and the company says it has no plans to institute a blanket replacement policy for customers who suffer from the problem.

Ziff-Davis/PC Week's Jim Louderback first broke the story of this problem in his February 17th, 1998 column which included a link to one of the several web sites which has been tracking this rapidly growing problem. That site also maintains a mailing list which has been joined by more than 3100 people. Reading through the message board on that site is shocking and frightening.

When we learned of this problem and Jim's column, we contacted Jim and told him of SpinRite 5.0's new ability to run on Iomega drives. Jim posted a note about this to the Click Death mailing list which generated more than 280 requests for a beta copy of SpinRite 5.0. Beta copies were sent ...

We first learned of SpinRite's ability to be effective in helping with cases of Click Death when we received this letter (Reprinted here with the permission of its author):

From: "Luis Flores"
To: "Steve Gibson"
Subject: 5.0 Beta and Zip drive

Well, I had a disk full of source code and a few MP3s. A while back I had a problem where my computer had a loose power cord, and it reset while playing one of the files. The zip drive also reset. From that point I would get a clicking noise when trying to access numerous files in the same directory where that MP3 was located. I tried running Windows Scan Disk. When it got to that section it started clicking again.

Now, I tried SpinRite 5.0 Beta.

I decided to go to level 5. It began scanning and was able to get it to show the bad sector. I was very happy at this point. Now it began scanning and doing that DYNASTAT thing. Then about 3-4 hours later it completed the entire disk. :) I was able to see that it was marked bad, yet everything was great! I restarted Win95 and opened the disk, went to the directory, no clicking! I decided to copy the suspect MP3 to my hard drive (which would normally give errors) and, guess what ... no problems!

I am currently listening to it to find out if there was any corruption, but I am more than half way through and everything seems to work perfectly!

PS: I finished listening ... there is a VERY slight "bump" on in the sound, but the file was recovered perfectly!

I cannot say how glad I am that I have not lost these meetings, or my source code. I have been able to fix these types of problems by doing an Iomega full format, but that is unacceptable 9 times out of 10.

I hope others are having the same luck that I am having.

Thank You!

Others are.


But in order for SpinRite to work on a Zip or Jaz drive, the drive must first be "online" ... and one of the failure modes created by "Click Death" takes the drive completely offline. If any part of the drive is accessible, then SpinRite is already the best tool in existence for repairing the damage and recovering the data. But I want to really understand what's going on so that I can perhaps find a way of bringing those completely "offline" Zip and Jaz drives "online" just enough for SpinRite to be able to get in there and make them whole again.

Because I feel that this is a significant problem (as do 100,000 victims!) I have committed myself to getting to the bottom of this Click Death problem. I have asked the community of Click Death sufferers to send me their dead Iomega disks and drives, and I'm receiving them now. I'm tracking down an Iomega technical reference manual (which is not publicly available) which will give me some inside knowledge that Iomega is unwilling to share. As soon as the dust settles from the introduction of this major new release of SpinRite, I'll be rolling up my sleeves, getting out my oscilloscope, and determining what's really going on.

As I learn more I'll be updating my project diary to reflect everything that I learn, whether it's relevant to SpinRite or not. I am hoping to create a supplementary utility (which I would give away freely) specifically targeted to this problem and which might work in concert with the existing SpinRite product (which is already as good as it can be for what it does.)

If you would like to be notified automatically whenever I make a worthwhile discovery, you are hereby invited to subscribe to the GRC Corporate News Blog.

Click here if you would like to read
more about SpinRite 5.0 and Click Death.

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