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SCSI Drivers & Mounting Removables
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by Kass Johns (November/December 1995, for %%timeout The journal of IDIA)

As a member of CompuServe's Publishing forums, I often see people flustered with problems when mounting their SyQuest cartridge to or from another user's system. The symptoms described usually indicates a driver problem. These can include: cartridge spins up, but not viewable on the host system's desktop; cartridge icon viewable, but some problems with accessing that data later; or icon is different than normally expected icon. Whether you, the service provider, or one of your clients have this recurring problem, I will attempt to lay out what is happening and how you may be able to prevent it in the future. This is my response to a client of a service bureau having mounting problems. You may wish to pass a copy of this to your clients experiencing these problems.

All references here to drivers are in reference to the "invisible" drivers in the boot blocks of your drive(s), unless otherwise indicated.

On a Macintosh, the drivers which mount volumes (hard drives, removable drives, etc.) must now be "SCSI Manager 4.3 compliant."

Prior to SCSI Manager 4.3, a removable cartridge inserted may not have been seen properly because the drivers from the boot volume (your internal hard disk) were 'influencing' your newly inserted cartridge (the drivers from your internal and the newly inserted external were virtually sparring for the right to display). This could cause a couple of symptoms: the icon changes, the disk does not appear on your desktop. In order to rectify this, you have to either reboot your Mac to recognize that removable disk's drivers (letting those drivers battle it out with your internal volume's drivers so-to-speak, or if it will work, use SCSIProbe (freeware control panel) to 'force-mount' the cartridge.

Since SCSI Manager 4.3 (first released as part of ROM in the Mac 840AV-standard in all new models since then), the driver-IF 4.3 compliant-is supposed to flush itself from memory so that you could mount different volumes from different sources (clients, service bureaus, etc.) who happen to use differing brands of drivers. After the dismount/eject, the driver is supposed to eradicate itself from memory, so the next driver in can "come on board."

This works like it should if all parties involved use 4.3 compliant drivers. If someone is using an older non-compliant driver (anywhere), then you are forced to try SCSIProbe 3.5 (it is the only version of SCSIProbe that is 4.3 compliant) or in worst case, restart your system with the cartridge inserted and spun up at the time of the restart.

Kass' Recommendations to avoid problems:

#1. Everybody with a Mac should have the control panel: SCSIProbe 3.5 (it is the same as SCSIProbe 3.5sq-which is just the SyQuest version).

#2. I recommend that your internal hard drive be formatted with one of "the big boys" of commercial hard disk formatters. Silverlining or FWB Hard Disk ToolKit. I have used both extensively, as many of us "old timers" have. I presently use the FWB HDTK.

I used to use Silverlining, but soon tired of their 'update-of-the-week' revisions. Also the software was available from only certain distribution channels (that may have changed by now).

Like many of my techno-weenie pals, I switched to the FWB product. It has a cleaner interface, seems more solid, and is readily available from many sources. It can be purchased via dealers, the mail order catalog houses or it comes free with all Hammer hard drives (made by FWB). It is now, also shipping with many other specific brands of hard drives (I don't know which, off hand). Usually it is the PE (Personal Edition) 'lite' version-just as good as the full version.

While either of these softwares costs you money and may not be free, it is well worth the investment to guarantee your working environment free from drive mounting hassles. I see many folks reply to this sort of comment with a, "But, Brand XX came free with my drive!" Fine, you may be subject to "you get what you pay for" syndrome! If you insist on using your Brand XX, then be consistent, and use it all the way through your systems, no matter the drive brand used (assuming Brand XX supports all/most drives-like the two commercial products do).

#3. Put all those disks that came with any Winchester hard drive (this excludes, Iomega products, CDs and optical drives) you are using away! The various disks I receive with my different brands of drives have never even been in my floppy drive. Put them away for "just in case" needs. (Mine are in a box in the other room, stored with old versions of software!)

Use one of the above recommended formatters for all those drives. Don't mix and match brands. Select one and stick with it, no matter the brand of 'box' you buy. I ran a network of over 100 Macs for seven years. No matter which brand of hard drive or SyQuest mechanism (MicroNet, MaxConcept, Hammer, Apple, Quantum, Ehman, Conner, PLI, APS, CMS, Procom, etc.) I bought over the years, I always used the same single brand of driver. I NEVER had any mounting problems.

Do you need the visible extension driver software that comes with the drive? Many folks are not aware that separate extension drivers for SyQuest cartridges are not necessarily needed. SyQuest cartridges are just Winchester hard disk/magnetic platter mechanisms in a removable case-the same media as your "fixed capacity" hard drive! The invisible boot drivers for your internal drive should mount the cartridges as long as they are inserted and spun up upon startup. Or you can force-mount using SCSIProbe. I see so many folks assume they have to have those extensions installed. The last thing we all need are a bunch of extra extensions! Some folks may use these extensions because their workflow requires them to mount mnay cartridges a day and some of these extensions allow for repeat mounting.

Do what I do for repeated mounting needs, set the mounting command key within SCSIProbe to Control-Spacebar (SCSIProbe, under Options button). The software default of Command-Spacebar is the same as one of the QuarkXPress command keys (no, I don't remember which one)-so just change Command to Control.

ALWAYS backup all your data before using a hard disk formatting program like Silverlining or HD ToolKit. Remember, these softwares are for reformatting and reinitializing hard disks-that means erasing all your data permanently. Do not play around or experiment with these sorts of applications without realizing the consequences of your actions. If unfamiliar with this sort of software, you may be better off to get help from an expert consultant or dealer in your area.

© Copyright 1996-2001 by Kass Johns, all rights reserved world wide.
The opinions and recommendations stated here are solely those of the author and are not the responsibility of anyone else. This is an independent publication not affiliated or otherwise associated with, sponsored by, or sanctioned by any vendor. We state here that we have used trademark names in this publication for editorial purposes only, with no intent to infringe on those trademarks. Permission is granted to copy this document for personal use only for *non-commercial* purposes, in electronic or printed form, provided that this copyright notice is not removed. This work may not be used on another Web site or online service, sold for profit, included within commercial works, or altered or changed in any way without the express written permission of the author.



© Copyright 1996-2001 v.7.5.00
Kass Johns
Technical Writer & Consultant to the Publishing & Telecommunications Industries
Colorado Springs, CO • www.kassj.com • 719/635-1306 (vc)
kass at kassj dot com

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