The Click of Death Ate My Data
"Click." "Click-click-click. "Hear that? It's the sound of my Iomega Jaz
drive, along with the cartridge and all its data, kicking the bit bucket.
It's also the sound of my 14-year relationship with Iomega coming to an end.
Because I'm angry, no,
It's too late for me, but it's not too late for you. If you own a Zip or Jaz drive or are considering buying one, I have a terrific free utility and a few great resources for you, as well as a couple of suggestions for Iomega.
This story started when I told an Iomega rep that I was doing an article on monster-size music and video files. Iomega sent me a 1GB Jaz drive and a 100MB Zip drive. For three months, I tested the dickens out of both, transferring lots of data and clocking the performance. I liked the Jaz so much I ended up buying one for my wife's system. Heck, the Jaz drive was so convenient I started using it to back up critical files on the fly.
Dummy that I was, the Click of Death issue (COD for short) didn't register
on my radar screen. I missed the warning in
When the Jaz drive failed, I called my personal storage guru, drive expert Steve Gibson. Gibson is the creator of SpinRite, an indispensable utility for finding and fixing surface problems on hard drives.
Gibson prayed for my Jaz drive--without success--but said Zip owners had more to worry about. First, the alignment in a Zip may be off, which can cause the drive's heads to "clip" the edge of the flexible floppy disk inside the Zip cartridge's plastic case. Second, Gibson says, the Zip drive may need lubrication, something that's not a problem for Jaz drives.
Okay, bad news first. There is no cure. Once a drive begins to circle the drain, it needs to go back to Iomega for service. Worse, you can deep-six a good cartridge--and all the data on it--if you insert it into a faulty drive. Neat, huh?
So Gibson wrote Trouble in Paradise, an aptly named, exquisitely simple
utility to test the failure potential of Zip and Jaz drives. You'll find this
free 66KB program on
Officially, Iomega claims that the COD affected fewer than half of 1 percent of all Jaz and Zip users. But with more than 20 million Zip and 2 million Jaz drives in the world, that's a huge number of problems. (For the record, I pounded the Zip drive and didn't have an iota of trouble.) Some good news: Iomega says it will help users recover their data, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee.
Still, Iomega's behavior is a textbook example of how not to handle a serious
technical problem. Instead of taking action at the first sign of trouble,
it pretended there wasn't a problem. The company finally paid attention, but
not quickly enough to avoid a class action lawsuit (see
Iomega could have made it easier to get answers--like by sticking a link
to COD info on the home page instead of burying it three layers deep (
Bottom line: The Jaz drive's up on the shelf--and that's where it stays. Because the data on the drive? It's my stuff.