System Crashes and Lockups,
Problems Ejecting Backup Discs,
and General Bizarre Misbehavior

A small number of people experience problems ejecting a disc when it becomes full. The usual symptom is that it simply refuses to eject the disc, and probably locks up your system at the same time. Some people experience the problem consistently, for others it is intermittent.

A few people experience random instability or errors at other points when using the software, but mostly it is when ejecting discs.

There are many, many possible causes, but most cases seem to be related to the packet writing software, incompatibility with the current version of Windows or other seemingly unrelated software on their computer, or low quality or incompatible CD-RW/CD-R media.

Packet writing software is the software which lets you write to your CD-RW drive from Windows Explorer, and ordinary programs like Microsoft Word, using the drive letter for your CD-RW drive. Most people use Adaptec/Roxio Direct CD (part of Easy CD Creator) or InCD (part of Nero Burning ROM) for their packet writing software. CD-RW drives almost universally come with packet writing software, so you should not have to buy it separately.

The VERY FIRST THING you should do is make sure you have the most recent version of your packet writing software. MANY people have cured problems by downloading and installing free updates to their packet writing software. The more recent your version of Windows, the more likely this is to be true. For example, Service Pack 1 of Windows XP broke a feature of Direct CD (part of Easy CD Creator) that my software depends on. If you have Windows XP SP1 and don't download and install at least version 5.3.1 of Easy CD Creator, my software will frequently lock up for no apparent reason.

Adaptec (Roxio) states in their documentation that problems in their software may result from incompatibilities between their software and the CD-RW drive, because CD-RW drive manufacturers are constantly changing their products and it is difficult for software manufacturers such as themselves to keep up. Because of this, I would recommend visiting the Adaptec (Roxio) web site and the drive manufacturer web site to see if there are any software upgrades available, or notes about compatibility which may be related to your problem.

Some of my customers have reported these problems first appeared when they upgraded their packet writing software, and disappeared when they went back to the older version. More have cured an existing problem by upgrading. Several other customers have solved the problem by changing the configuration options in their packet writing software, in particular by turning off the option(s) to automatically display a window or start a wizard of some kind when you eject the disc.

I have had a number of customers inform me that their problems went away when they switched to a different brand of CD-RW or CD-R media. One brand name that has been blamed several times is Imation, though I suspect the problem is not so much one brand being worse than the other but that some brands work better in some drives than others.

Another customer reported his problems were caused by using media (discs) that were only labeled for use up to 4x speed, but he was using them in a higher speed drive.

Another thing to check is on the "Program Settings" dialog, make sure you have safe values for all the settings. In particular, the "minimum available space" setting must be large enough, typically 10 megabytes for CD-R or CD-RW media. Also, you can try turning off "space estimation" by unchecking the box at the top of that tab.

I have also had reports of screen savers interfering with my software. Several different screen savers from different software companies caused the same problem for one customer. The problem went away when all screen savers were disabled.

Another customer experienced all manner of bizarre problems until Norton System Works was turned off.

Because of this, a diagnostic step I strongly recommend is to turn off screen savers and other software which runs in the background, such as virus scanners, power management software and various "utility" software, while making a backup.

If that doesn't work, buy a box of "brand name" CD-RW discs like Fuji or Sony.