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Free Random Jargon from The Jargon File

click of death: n.

A syndrome of certain Iomega ZIP drives, named for the clicking noise that is caused by the malady. An affected drive will, after accepting a disk, will start making a clicking noise and refuse to eject the disk. A common solution for retrieving the disk is to insert the bent end of a paper clip into a small hole adjacent to the slot. “Clicked” disks are generally unusable after being retrieved from the drive.

The clicking noise is caused by the drive's read/write head bumping against its movement stops when it fails to find track 0 on the disk, causing the head to become misaligned. This can happen when the drive has been subjected to a physical shock, or when the disk is exposed to an electromagnetic field, such as that of the CRT. Another common cause is when a package of disks is armed with an anti-theft strip at a store. When the clerk scans the product to disarm the strip, it can demagnetize the disks, wiping out track 0.

There is evidence that the click of death is a communicable disease; a “clicked” disk can cause the read/write head of a "clean" drive to become misaligned. Iomega at first denied the existence of the click of death, but eventually offered to replace free of charge any drives affected by the condition.