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Sec Master Drive ATAPI Incompatible at XP Boot up leading to loss of CD and DVD drives

Posted on 2004-08-29
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Last Modified: 2011-08-18
Over the last few weeks I have been receiving intermittent messages and now I get these messages after every XP boot up

The message is

Sec Master Drive Invalid ATAPI Incompatible
Followed by options to Resume or run setup (F2 and F1)

This leads to me having neither my CD or DVD Drive available in XP
(As additional info if I press F2 to resume XP takes an age to load so I tend to ignore the options and let it carry on booting)

I am very concerned that the lack of a CD Drive is a security exposure as I would be unable to reinstall XP or load new software should I have problems.

I have made no hardware changes to the computer at and have just been applying standard XP maintenance via the Windows Update facility

My evironment is
Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 1 (build 2600)  
1.40 gigahertz AMD Athlon XP
128 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache   Board: Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd. 7ZXE 1.x
Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. 62710 12/04/2001
ATAPI CD-R/RW 24X10 (CD-ROM drive)
HL-DT-ST DVD-ROM GDR8160B (CD Rom Drive)

I need an urgent and safe fix for this problem that will not leave me without access to XP

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Question by:daveclaridge
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11925332
I believe this is a BIOS problem.  Try resetting the BIOS to its defaults..  Or, you might try updating the BIOS (flashing) with a newer version from the mainboard manufacturer's site..

FE
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11926460
FE,

Many thanks for your fast response and I would like to work with you on resolving my problem.

To set the scene I have no experience of resetting or updating BIOS and my experience is mainly with XP where I have done one resintall a year ago after problems. My concern is the system I use is critical as my partner uses it for her business fro time to time so I dont want to use any "try it and see solutions" not that I am suggesting that yours is one of these.

I need to understand;

If this is a BIOS problem then what caused it?  given that I have done no new hardware installs or bios updates within the last few months apart from additional memory that was installed without problems two months ago

What is the impact of a BIOS default reset on my systemi terms of the worst case?
I would need full instructions for a BIOS flash and I understand this is fraught with problems?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11926573
You can set the bios to its defaults from within the bios utility...  Depending on your BIOS, you access it by pressing certain keys.  You can go here for additional info on this, as it is on my site:

www.doverproductions.com  (Look in the hardware section for bios.  you will find info on flashing too.)

Resetting the bios defaults should not do harm to your system, but the operative words here are 'should not'.  Nothing is for certain in this world of tech, as I am sure you are aware.

Flashing the BIOS is a different animal.  This could bring your system down, but in 95% of the cases, you should be okay.  Each bios flash can be different, as noted in my article.  Best practice is to go to your system manufacturer's website for instructions.  Usually it involves just downloading the flash utility, placing it on a floppy, and installing it from a command prompt.  In this case, you must boot to the floppy and execute the flash utility.

But before you do all this, I would also ck the connections to your ATAPI devices.  I would pull the ribbon cables off your CDrom and DVDrom and reset them.  

Next, if this is a mission critical system, make sure you are getting good backups.  If your motherboard is going south, you will need them.  

FE

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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11927016
Many thanks and let me start by congratulating you on your WEB Site the information in it has been written realy well far better than many that I have seen.  

I will now do the following

Check the cables to the CD and DVD Rom and try a reboot. One point, is the Sec drive referred to the DVD drive? If so is there someway I can disable it so that it bypasses the problem in the short term?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11927115
Thanks for the kudos on my website..  tried to make it user friendly, without too much tech-talk.

The placement of your DVDrom and CDrom is according to how the jumpers are set on the drives.  Also, in a proper setup, the master is at the end of the ribbon cable and the slave is connected to the middle 40 pin connector.  But I have seen many systems where the installer did not follow that convention..

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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11929842
FE,

I was about to open the computer up and check the connections but I decided to start by just moving the computer tower case slightly and thn I  powered the machine up. This resulted in no error messages so this is almost certainly a connection problem would you agree?. As I now have access to CD I will make the necessary backups and will wait for the next error message before opening up the machine.  

Does this sound sensible?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11930537
Whoa...  you moved the case a few inches and it powered up without an error?  I usually take the Don't fix if not Broken approach, but if it were me, I would definitely open the case and reseat all the cables in there.  
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11930845
FE,

On the next power up the error returned and I opened the case i checked for any loose connections to the CD and DVD drives and couldnt find any obvious problem. As I am not familiar with hardware installs would you advice I disconnect and reconnect the cables to the DVD and CD drives ? (do they simply pul off?) What other activities shoudl I carry out

I did also check the XP event viewer and found several ATAPI error messages that occur at startup these are:

The device, \Device\Ide\IdePort1, did not respond within the timeout period.

Are these related to the ATAP Invalid messages ??

From my view It would seem to be a hardware error rather than BIOS given that the problem was intermittment and is now happening all the time with the ocassional time where it doesnt.  

What do you think is te right way forward as I am yet again without CD on my XP system although I did backup my partners business data to CD when the machine powered up ok after I moved it
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11931220
Correct..  take the ribbon cables off the devices and re-insert them.  I would also do this on the maiboard for the IDE controllers (where the ribbon cable plugs into the MB)

I believe those error messages do indeed relate.  And you are correct, since it came back, then it is definitely related to hardware.

As far as where we go from here, if it continues, I would start replacing hardware.  Now, depending on your circumstances, if you have spares around, start trying them.  i.e:  cdrom drives, ribbon cables, etc...   The last resort is the motherboard itself.

Hardware issues are sometimes hard to narrow down, and takes some patience.   :(
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11931362
FE,

Thanks, I dont have any hardware spares and I havent really got the requisite skill or experience to deinstall and resinstall CD ROM drives although if you can convince me its straightforward then maybe otherwise its the computer shop. It would help if I knew what the Sec master drive referred to is (i.e the DVD or the CD) as once I know that we know what to replace. Again though is there someway I can e.g disable the DVD drive and see if this causes the message?  
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11931862
Absolutely..  just pull the ribbon cable off the drive and it will be disabled.. :)

Replacing a cdrom is really easy.  The tricky part is making sure that the jumpers are set correctly.

http://www.acmehowto.com/howto/pc/hardware/cdrom/replace.php

When your system boots and starts the POST, as long as the manufacturers splash screen is disabled, you will see the master/slave drive configuration on the screen.  

Here is a good site for BIOS questions too:

http://www.wimsbios.com/
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11931928
FE,

Thanks again I will look into this, quick question how do I pause the system so that I can read the master/slave config?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11932363
Try the Pause Key..  :)
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11932817
FE,

I opened up the machine and tried to remove the plastic connector to the CD drive by pulling it out but it will not budge I ws able to remove the ribbon cable from the CD drive and reconnect it. The plastic connector to the CD drive has 3 pairs of wires, Yellow black and red but i assume you pull the whole connector out I dont want to use excessive force. Wht is is so difficult to remove?

I am starting to feel that i will need to take the machine into a shop and get a new CD rom fitted as I think the problem is beyond me
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11933914
There are two connectors going to the cdrom..  one is called the Molex connector, and this is the one you pulled out.  This provides power to the drive.  The one you need to reset is the other one.  This contains 40 pins and is sometimes difficult.  Also known as the ribbon cable.  Don't worry, you can not break it.  Just wiggle it back and forth and it will disconnect.  Additionally, follow it to the motherboard and do the same.
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11933986
FE,

No I  removed what I thought was the ribbon cable the one i couldnt remove was a white plastic connector with 8 wires going into it coloured yello, black and red.  I assume this was the power cable?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11934119
:)  Yes, that is the power, and you should not need to remove it.  Although, if you can take it off, you might try connecting a spare power cable to replace it.
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11935826
FE,

I think now we need a definite plan for the way forward. The problem occurs very frequently with an occasional time where it doesnt e.g tonight I went out to the local pub in the UK and tried some fine ales!! On my return on booting the comsputer up it came up without an error so there is some consistency here, if the machine is powered off for some time the restarted sometimes it will restart without errors but not all times.

The problem is I completely comfortable with software but not hardware (in am not by any means a DIY [person}

What would you suggest going forward to resolve this?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11936236
Or...  ALE = Friendly OS  :)

If you were located anywhere in the Mid-Ohio region of the continental US, I would come on over and TS it for you..  
And if I was sitting in front of the machine, I could probably have you up and running in an hour.  But...  

Now, here is the dilemma.  What does the local computer shop charge for troubleshooting hardware, and in the end, what will the hardware cost you?  If they charge say $75 / hour and spend 3 hours on this, then determine you need a new motherboard, then the charge for installing the hardware..  you get my point.  Sometimes it is just not worth the expenditure, and you could have a new computer by the time they are done.  Got to be careful with this, as you can see.

But the first thing I would do is to get a good backup any way you can.  If you have a second computer, create a share and backup to that.  If you have a friend with a computer, see if they will bring it over and patch it into yours, and backup to their system and burn a cd...  



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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11936605
FE,

Many thanks for the offer and I do understand that where I live,  (in West Malling, Kent in the UK about 30 miles south of London) and as nice as it is, green fields, hops, the garden of England (as they call it), a transalantic flight paid for by myself and your expenses is not economic!!

You are of course right, the computer shop would make the whole process too expensive and I am in my heart of hearts really determined to work with you to resolve this but I do need the support, and in terms of hardware a lot of it ,and I am making a big assumption that you both can and will provide it?

Dont worry too much about backups as I was able to backup Documents and Settings from both my own and my partners data to separate CD's when the system came back up  using Nero Burning CD Rom which is not the most friendly of products at times.

So unless you think I should back up anything else other than Douments and Settings for both Users then our backup situation is at this time good

Ok so what are the next steps PS would the XP remote support feature help? I somehow doubt that it would
My view is we need to really isolate the intermittent but persistent nature of this problem.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11936945
Ok..  Do you have a spare system sitting around anywhere?   The reason I am asking is that I would start stripping it out and using the parts for replacing the current ones.  For instance, I would swap out the ribbon cables first, as this is the easiest.  If you do not, when you are out, you might pick up one from a local shop.  They are not expensive, and if you purchase, get 80 wire, 40 pin UDMA cable.  (40 wire will work too)

Flat Ribbon Cables  (bottom of page)

http://www.baber.com/baber/products/rounded_ide_cables.htm
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11937470
FE,

Sorry no I do not have a spare system and never have. I can try and see if I can get a ribbon cable but that will not be until Saturday next week as computer hardware suppliers are not in unbundance.

One other thing, leaving the computer shutdown for a few hours seems to resolve the problem (the last two start ups have been successful after one or two hours between each). Is heat a factor in this problem or is there somthing else of relevance here?, I always like to try and think these things through.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11937653
Heat is a good guess, but it only takes a few minutes for chipsets to cool down.  Did you try to reset the Bios to its defaults yet?  I may be missing the comment regarding that..?
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11939724
FE,
I havent reset the BIOS as yet and I thought we had agreed the the intermittment symptoms pointed to hardware. Software in my experience is very consistent it works or it doesnt. This morning again I started the computer without problems so it would appear that the problem generally occurs if the computer is restarted after having already been successfully brought up and that if time is allowed between restarts ( generally at least an hour) then it starts ok. I guess I am reluctant to change things without an obvious logical reason
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11941052
A very strange problem indeed.  I just needed to know if you had reset the bios, just in case this became intermittent after the reset..  

Now, if it is heat, you might try making sure that your fans are all running and pushing plenty of air.  In fact, leave the case open and observe them  as your system is on.  If it were me, I would probably take them off, clean them and reseat them, including the processor cooling fan.  But this is even more tricky than ribbon cables, so if you are not sure how...    If there is damage already done to the system due to heat, that means replacing the processor, since it is the first thing to go if overheated.


FE
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 11950229
FE,

I am definitely not into replacing fans as I said before my engineering skills are not good. However the computer is often left on for several hours without any problems so if fans were the issue I would have thought I would have had far more problems by now. I will get the ribbon cable but really I think we need to eliminate which component is causing the problem when i opened the case I saw a ribbon cable going to the CD ROM which I removed and reset but I couldnt see the ribbon cable to the DVD ROM which I presume is connected to the CD ROM Ribbon.

I really would like to understand what the sec master drive it is referring to actually is. I did try pressing the pause key but the information screen comes and goes too fast and I misssed it. I will try again.

What I do need to do is make sure my system is built to more mission critical standards in the future as these problems are costing too much time and I might have to bite the bullet and replace the motherboard and processor with something more solid such as Pentium rather than Gigabyte and AMD Athlon but what is your view?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11951321
As you are aware, troubleshooting Hardware is sometimes the most difficult part of using a computer.  There are literally 100's of things that could be wrong and narrowing it down to one can be a nightmare.  Especially if you do not have spare parts around for testing.  One of the reasons I am in this business is that years ago I happened to have a similar experience to yours, and decided I needed to learn this technology to be able to repair these systems myself.  

Regarding mission critical systems...  At every client I serve, I insist they have backup systems, including servers.  For instance, you never run a domain network without a minimum of 2 Domain Controllers.  And I usually recommend Intel, as in the long run, they will cause less headaches for the enduser in downtime.  Your current system is starting to age (AMD 1.4 Ghz) and since this is used in your business, I would consider a replacement.  Now, I am not much of an OEM fan, but you could buy a Dell pretty cheaply nowadays, and be back up and running in a week.  Then, if you want to learn more about how these are put together, you could use your current system as a test box, stripping it out and rebuilding it in your leisure time.  (Although for most people I know, they would not call that leisurely..:)

Without a replacement cd drive to test with, it would be a shame if it was the cause and not the motherboard/processor.  I have seen these be diagnosed incorrectly before, with a lot of waste in time and hardware being thrown at the machine in troubleshooting.    This is what prompted my to write a CDrom Troubleshooting guide and place it on my website.  I see above that I forgot to give you the link, so I will do so now:

www.doverproductions.com

You will find the link under Hardware:  CDrom Troubleshooting Guide

Also, feel free to view my other articles I have written, if you desire..

FE
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Author Comment

by:daveclaridge
ID: 11958305
FE,

Thanks this is extremely good information as usual and food for thought indeed and I will need to think very carefully about my options.

In terms of a new machine (if i went for that) what would you advise??; a purpose built one from a computer shop from components (where mine came from) or one purchased from a shop/supplier e.g Dell?

I think you understand the mission critical nature of what I need which I am grateful  

Latest position on my computer is that you cannot predict when it will work properly on startup , even leaving it for a few hours e.g overnight will not always fix it but it will sometimes. Is this a Motherboard symptom??
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 11958768
*grin*  It could be a motherboard issue.  I have seen motherboards that are ready to fail, but will boot occasionally.  One way to tell is to look at the capacitors.  If they look swollen, then you should expect it to fail soon.  Most just blow up, and the board is history.

Now, my feeling regarding custom built systems...  I do build all my own, and would not think about purchasing an OEM system, but in your case, this may be the best course.  It all depends on the trust you place in your supplier (computer shop).  AND, the warranty they provide.  Most components come with 2 or 3 year warranties, and the supplier should reflect that in their warranty also.  The downside to buying OEM is that you will have to ship it back for warranty work.  That, of course, means downtime.

The specs of your new system should reflect the work you want to do on your system.  Gamers prefer AMD usually, but for production systems (in the workplace) I usually go with Intel processor AND motherboard.  Computer shops (in my neighborhood) will put an Intel processor on a low end board so they can compete with the OEM's, so be careful here.

Hope this helps..

FE
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 12037833
FE,

Sorry its been so long since I contacted you (on holiday). Situation on the computer is that each day I start it up it all works fine I suspect its only after a restart that the problems might occur but thats a guess

While the computer is like this I will hold of any work on it and look to replace the hardware when the time is right. Meanwhile I will ensure the system is backed up.

Many thanks
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 12038006
No problem.. Hope you had a great vacation...  

FE
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 12107447
FE,

An update for you. The system has been really reliable over the last 2 weeks without any ATAPI errors at startup. Then today my Partner (Karin) did a mail shot of 91 letters over a day. When I got home at 9pm I started the computer up from cold and sure enough I got an ATAPI error during startup with the usual two bleeps and the message. However unusually when XP started up it said "Windows has found New Hardware  - CD Drive" then didnt menton it again. i checked the Event Viewer and found that there was a plug and play error for the CD drive complaining that it disappeared before being removed properly via a User. This sounds interesting, a CD ROM device not recognised at Power on Self Test (POST) is recognised mommentairily after XP starts up.

What is your view are we still looking at Mother Board problems here?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 12107776
Man, is this must be getting quite frustrating for you..  I don't have time to re-read the entire thread, but did you set the BIOS back to its defaults?  One way to do this is to pull the bios battery, or you can enter the bios and there should be a setting for defaults..

I really, really wish we had another CDrom drive to test this with...  Again, it would be a real shame to go to the trouble of swapping MB's only to find out it was the drive...

FE
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 12109875
No we established it wasnt BIOS as the problem is intermittent works a lot of times and not others
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by:daveclaridge
ID: 12266123
FE,

An update for you

The problem appears to be happening 7 times out of 10 now. Due to this I have purchased an external CD RW drive and am backing up all settings on a weekly basis. I upgraded to Nero 6 after problems with Nero 5 not recognising my new external drive and Nero 6 is excellent and easy to use.

I will have to I suspect try and replace the CD R/W drive that is getting the ATAPI error and will have to enlist some help n getting this done. I guess if the problem doesnt go away then its a Motherboard. Thinking back about a year ago I started getting problems with my second hard drive hanging when I wa strying to use it and I ended up disabling it. I wonder if both problem point to the Motherboard??

My other issue is do I risk applying the SP2 fixes given my lack of internal CD ROM???
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 12268059
I would wait to install that Service Pack.  It can cause problems all by itself, and we don't need that right now.  

And yes, I continue to suspect that motherboard, but it is just too easy to switch out the cdrom drive and try another first.  Changing a MB is not complicated, but it entails much more than just plugging in a power supply feed and a ribbon cable.

If you decide to change out your motherboard, and want to keep the original Operating System intact, be sure to read the article I wrote on my website first..

www.doverproductions.com or just go to:

http://65.24.134.81/KipSolutions/MovingXPNewMotherboard/MovingXP.htm
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Author Comment

by:daveclaridge
ID: 12491328
I would prefer to leave this question open as the problem still exists and although it is intermittent it needs fixing. FE has been leading me through the options but the system is mission critical so timescales on repair options are tailored accordingly
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Author Comment

by:daveclaridge
ID: 12512756
FE,

An update on the problem for you.

For something like four weeks in succession, the system would stop on boot up every time with the ATAPI error. Then around a week ago the system started booting up every time without the ATAPI error. I have thoroughly checked the seating of the ribbon cable and can find nothing obviously wrong with the connections and the problem persisted after these check. I also changed the CMOS settings to detect IDE devices using the AUTO option rather than defining the device as FLOPTICAL as previously set. This made no difference as the ATAPI error message problem continued afterwards until recently when it has gone away temporarily.  I have not changed the CMOS settings back so they are still set to Auto

This is an infuriating problem as it is not obvious that swapping out the CD ROM will make any difference and if it is a motherboard problem its very strange in nature.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 12513259
These are the hardest problems to resolve.  In fact, I have a PC that is exhibiting the same behavior, that being an on-again. off-again situation...  Very infuriating as you mention, but it is the nature of the business...

A MB swap is always the last thing you want to try, but in my case, I am down to it, the vid card, and the case as the last to swap out (the power supply was the first to go...)  The Vid card will be pulled today, but I have a feeling that I will end up with only the case left as original equipment....

Anyway, just wanted you to know that you are not the lone ranger here..  :)

FE
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Author Comment

by:daveclaridge
ID: 12609517
Fe,

Many thanks for your support,  Ok given that (1) I am backing up data weekly to CD via Nero using an external drive and (2) that more than often the ATAPI problem doesnt occur is there any reason why I should not upgrade to SP2? I dont want to fall too far behind but dont want to put my system permanently out of action eithe. Sor can you let me know in your opinion what the risks would be in applying the SP2 upgrade and the implication of the intermittent CD ATAPI problem on this??.
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Fatal_Exception earned 500 total points
ID: 12609806
When SP2 first arrived on the scene, I was recommending a wait period before my clients installed this, but now there is enough out there on the web, and in MS's own KB database that I no longer am afraid of working with it.  I have upgraded all my systems and have found very little to be concerned with there.  But, if you want to read some of what I have written on this, feel free to visit my SP2 page on my site:  (It outlines some of the concerns, and what it could possibly break..)

www.doverproductions.com

FE
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