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Feb 27, 2001
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Why SafeDisc 2 is Flawed...

Using standard SafeDisc protection, you have an area of about 10,000 sectors where there are always unreadable sectors followed by readable sectors; repeat. This grouping of sectors changes from CD to CD and is the standard SafeDisc fingerprint that is checked by the protection code inside of the game/application's executable.

Macrovision knows however, that SafeDisc can be easily copied, so they got the brilliant (or less than) idea to implement SafeDisc 2. However, in doing so, they basically screwed most legitimate people out of the software they just purchased. Here is how SafeDisc 2 (SD2)works and why it's flawed:

SD2 uses the same area of unreadable sectors, however it also implements something called 'weak' sectors. Why are they 'weak'? Well, it seems that these sectors can be read from the original gold master CD with no problem, however, when they go to the manufacturing plant to be replicated, these sectors get damaged and can sometimes only be read on the 2nd or 3rd attempt at starting an application protected by SD2. Most of the times however, the CD just sits in the drive and spins endlessly as the executable tries to decode the SD2 fingerprint, only to find that these weak sectors have been damaged during reproduction.

How does this happen? Well, you must understand that all the data is scrambled before it's written to the CD. This means that every byte of data is transferred with a certain value that changes from byte to byte. This is done to prevent uniform bit patterns. It's when these 'weak' sectors are scrambled however, that problems arise, as what is supposed to be prevented is exactly what happens. When the weak sectors are scrambled, you get a uniform pattern such as:

0x12, 0x13, 0x12, 0x13....

Why is this a problem? Well, it seems that all bytes are encoded into 14-bit right before they are sent through the laser and burned to the CD. These encoders usually have problems with uniform bit patterns and usually result in damaged data. It seems that the writers of certain manufacturers have big-time problems with this. These burned 'weak' sectors can only be read in the original burner itself or not at all. So, now that I've explained what actually happens, you can go and thank Macrovision for implementing such a flawed software protection scheme, the numerous software pirates for even having to have software protection, and the manufacturing plants for their substandard writers. :D Hope this has been enlightening.
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Depends how far you're willing to go to play the game..

In theory, SafeDisc2 works..just have to be careful where the CD's are pressed. Like I stated before, it appears as though some manufacturing plants have problems with this, while others don't. For instance, Red Alert 2 from Westwood uses SD2 protection, but it works fine for most people. Granted, there are some people, like those who have Plextor drives, that can't play the game, because Plextor drives HATE SD & SD2 because of the automatic error recovery built into the drives. A Plextor drive will see the bad sectors of the SafeDisc/2 fingerprint, think they're errors on the CD, and go back and try to correct or re-read them....over and over and over...

Also, your CD drive has a lot to do with it, as mentioned above about the Plextor drives. My NEC 32x reads all SD/SD2 discs fine, while my friend's Cyberdrive CDROM struggles with NHL 2001 which uses SafeDisc. Just repeatedly keeps asking for the CD, even though it's already in there.

Are there ways around this? Yes. Depends on how much you want to play the game. If you're really diehard, you can go and get a 'No CD' crack so that the game doesn't even look for the CD and boots directly into the game. I don't believe this option would be illegal, as you paid for a product that you can't use thanks to some other company's stupid copy protection. You'd probably have to do the largest install size or copy the whole CD a folder, then apply the crack. Also, you could simply just wait for Strategy First to come out wtih a patch, but seeing as how their track record with the other patches seems to have made the game worse instead of better, I'd be a little worried.
Plextor firmware fix tames SafeDisc

I have a Plextor Ultraplex 40 Wide SCSI CD-ROM drive (PX-40TW). I have never had a copy protected game fail the CD check. I have had a problem with SafeDisc copy protection causing games to take forever to pass the CD check before they will start loading. When I first got Jagged Alliance 2 I thought the game was not going to load because the CD check lasted for over one minute.

The solution for the PX-40TW is to upgrade the drive’s firmware. This cut the time it takes for the CD check in half. If you have a Plextor SCSI CD-ROM drive with 1.0 firmware, do yourself a favor and upgrade your firmware ASAP.
So they are going to fix it?

So this is something that Stratgy first is going to fix?

I had received and e-mail indicating a different story...

'Unfortunately, if your cdrom drive isn't supported by the safedisk
2.0 protection scheme, there's not much to be made as it would take a
firmware upgrade for your cdrom drive and that i can't suggest it since it
might messed up your drive.'

I hope so, because I do not know how successful my quest for new NT drivers will be....
Well, this wasn't a solution to people's problems..

just some information of what might've happened. If you CD drive doens't support SafeDisc 2, then there' slittle you can do other than upgrading the drive's firmware or buying a new drive for $30/$40....