We have found that in very rare
circumstances, some high speed CD ROM drives (48X or higher
speed) can become dangerous when used with CD ROM disks with
small cracks. The result is that the disk can be damaged
further or shattered and, in very exceptional circumstances,
fragments of the broken disk can be expelled through the front
cover of the drive at high speed. This could cause serious
physical injury. We have confirmed that the problem can only
occur when a damaged CD ROM disk is used in the CD ROM drive.
You need to ensure that every CD ROM is checked for cracks
before each use. This issue only affects 48X or higher speed
CD ROM drives. We have provided stickers for you to apply to
the front of your CD ROM drives, to remind users that they
should always check CD ROM media before use.
Can I have a risk assessment? How risky is
This is a very rare event. On one hand, the rate of
items being ejected from drives that have not been
flashed or shielded is only once every 13,000 years of
computer operation. However, in a school with 100
computers this may equate to roughly a 10% chance of
experiencing a disk shatter in 3 years, and roughly a
2.5% chance that CD fragments may be ejected. That
is one reason why RM has taken this issue very
In the 6 months before shields and firmware updates
were available to users, RM became aware of 13 instances
of disc shatter where fragments were ejected from users'
computers. In the subsequent 6 months, RM is
aware of only 3 similar events, and all of those are
from drives where users had not fitted shields or made
firmware updates, despite these being provided by RM.
All of these occasions have been since April 2001, and
RM remains concerned that this could indicate a change
occurring in the quality of CD ROM media in use.
Among the instances of items being ejected from the
drives we have found from our customers, no injuries
have been reported.
If you don't use cracked media our experiments show
that there is no measurable risk at all.
How worried should I be?
There's no need for
panic however you should take seriously the actions that RM
has advised to prevent this problem occurring.
Should I stop using my computers?
No, as long as
you follow RM's advice it is safe to use your computers.
RM worked with the CD ROM drive manufacturer to make
available a protective metal shield that users can readily fit
into the drive. This is designed to prevent pieces of
disk escaping from the front of the drive in the rare event of
a CD ROM shattering. For affected drives where the shield is
unsuitable, RM has provided a firmware update that restricts
the operating speed of the CDROM so that disc shatter with
fragment ejection has no measurable risk.
Even with the shield or firmware update fitted, RM recommend
that you consider whether you can reposition any affected
computers so that the CD ROM drive is not positioned at the
face level of the users. For example, moving a computer from
the top of a desk to stand it sideways under the desk (CD ROM
drives can be used horizontally or vertically). As this issue
affects computers manufactured by a number of companies, you
may wish to consider your actions for other computers with
high speed CD ROM drives.