Troubleshooting Problems

What follows is a list of some of the problems people encounter using the software, and what to do about them.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to the end of the list! 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. "The Process Cannot Access the File Because
It Is Being Used By Another Process" Errors

"...Used By Another Process" errors are all caused by other software on your computer or another computer on a network using a file you are trying to back up. These can almost always be ignored because they involve temporary files used by Windows which are either recreated each time Windows starts or whenever Windows is reinstalled.

The only thing to be careful of is if you are running other software while the backup runs, because the other software may have files open that you really want to include in the backup.

The backup software is designed to suppress these errors for files it knows are harmless, but it can be fooled about which files these are by how you have configured Windows. In general, if you have an excessive number of these errors it is safe to exclude the following folders from your backups:

c:\documents and settings\(login name)\local settings\temp
c:\documents and settings\(login name)\local settings\temporary internet files
c:\documents and settings\(login name)\cookies
"Disk Full" Errors

Explanations for these errors fall into two general categories: Lack of space of the backup disc, and problems with packet writing software.

The first case, lack of space on the disc, is caused by trying to back up large files without enabling the option to compress and split large files across multiple backup discs. If a file is not compressed, and it will not fit in the remaining space on the backup disc, then the software will ask for another disc and it will place the entire file on the new disc. If the file will not fit on the *NEW* disc either, generally because the file is larger than the capacity of the CD-R or CD-RW media, then you get this error. The only solution is to enable compression and splitting for files of a suitable size in the backup plan. In general, it is best to enable compression and splitting for files in excess of 10MB or so. It is usually unrealistic for other software to directly read such files from the backup disc, so there is no penalty for compressing them on the backup, and if you don't compress large files you increase the likelihood of wasting space on the backup because it ran out of space trying to back up a large file and had to leave a big chunk of space unused.

The second case, problems with the packet writing software, is a result of the frequently misleading or downright inexplicable error messages that can result if you don't have packet writing software properly set up for your CD-RW drive. It sometimes gives "Disk Full" errors because standard CD-ROM's appear to Windows to have no extra space - they are exactly full all the time. Without packet writing software, CD-R and CD-RW media may sometimes be mistaken for standard CD-ROM media. Please refer to the help text on packet writing software, and inability to write to the CD-RW drive. "Access Denied" Errors

"Access Denied" errors are almost always a result of buggy, missing or improperly configured packet writing software. Please refer to the help text on packet writing software, system crashes and lockups, and inability to write to the CD-RW drive. "Drive Not Ready" Errors

"Drive Not Ready" errors are almost always the result of buggy or improperly configured packet writing software. The most common solutions are an upgrade to your packet writing software, or changing options in it, generally the former. The options most commonly implicated are those related to what happens when you eject a disc. Please refer to the help text on packet writing software, system crashes and lockups, and inability to write to the CD-RW drive. "Can't Get Current Login" Errors

This error is generally caused by a known bug in the backup software, which manifests itself on Windows 95/98/ME systems when you start Windows without giving a login name and then try to make a backup of the system registry with the backup software. You may avoid the bug and safely make backups by either giving a login name when you start Windows or not including the system registry in your backup.