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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fixing the “There is no disk in the drive” Error

Fixing the “There is no disk in the drive” Error

Have you ever had the “There is no disk in the drive” error message pop up when using an add-on product that works with QuickBooks? It’s annoying and it can make you worry that something isn’t working right. I consider this to be a bug in QuickBooks, not the add-on products, but there are several ways to fix it.

There is no disk in the drive

What Causes the “There is no disk in the drive” Error

This actually can pop up in a number of situations, and if you do a Google search on the phrase you’ll see a lot of confusing information on this. It isn’t limited to just QuickBooks installations.
In a very general sense it is due to there being a removable drive in your system that doesn’t have media in the drive. Remember the old Iomega Zip drives? These kinds of drives would make the error pop up often. Nowadays we don’t see Zip drives that often, but any of the following can make the error pop up (this is not an exhaustive list):
  • Floppy disk drives: Do you still have some? I do…
  • Removable hard disk drives: These have multiple kinds of interfaces, USB as well as others, and they all can cause the problem.
  • USB Multi-Card Readers: I don’t think of those when I thing of removable drives, but they ARE. Many consumer level PC’s have these included, even if you don’t use them.
Some process in an application in your computer is doing a check on the drives in the system, and in some situations this is going to cause Windows to pop up this error message if there isn’t something in that drive.
You may notice that I’m being a bit vague here – there are factors involved that I haven’t worked out. It doesn’t always happen. I have a program in my main computer system (several, actually) that will cause this error to pop up, but sometimes it won’t happen for days at a time. Then it starts up. I haven’t changed the media in my removable drives, I haven’t changed the configuration of my system – it just happens sometimes and not others. As a software developer, this is frustrating because it makes it hard to determine if I’ve found a way to fix the problem. I make a change – the problem doesn’t appear – but is that because I fixed it or because it just decided to not show up today?
You can see which drive is the one that is causing the problem, if you wish. If you look at the sample error message above, you’ll see that it says “\Device\Harddisk2\DR3”. That is the drive number that has the problem. Run yourComputer Management utility (in Administrative Tools with Windows 7, it may exist in other places in other versions of Windows) and select Disk Management. you can scroll through the list of drives (it may take awhile to populate the list) and see which one is the drive. It helps to identify them if you can insert media into all your removable devices. In my screen shot, the drive I’m looking for is #3 (DR3). You can see in this list that my F: drive is #3.
Windows Computer Management

What Is The Connection To QuickBooks?

I usually see this in connection with QuickBooks whenever I’m running certain QBSDK based add-on products. If you ask Intuit Support they’ll just tell you that they don’t support add-on programs, which is no help. If you talk to many add-on developers they’ll often not be able to help, because this problem won’t show up reliably on their own test and development systems.
It is my opinion that this is a bug in Intuit’s SDK, which is most commonly used by desktop products working with QuickBooks. I can demonstrate, in my own add-on software, that the error pops up just when I’m making certain calls to connect to the QuickBooks database. Call the Intuit function, error pops up. Unfortunately, since this error is so dependent on machine configuration, and because Intuit pays very little attention to problems like this in the SDK, I don’t believe that Intuit will be fixing this problem.

Is This a Big Problem?

In general – no. It is only a problem if you are running a program that NEEDS something in that drive, such as when you are doing backups.
The main issue is that it is annoying (it can pop up multiple times in a row, once for each “drive”), and that it makes people worry that there is something really wrong in their computer or with the software that is running.
Recently I’ve been testing a number of QuickBooks SDK based products that have their own “sync engine” that periodically sends information out to the cloud – and each time they make a connection this error was popping up. Since these are “background” programs that should be running unattended, having this error pop up repeatedly while I’m in the middle of working with some OTHER program becomes a major hassle.

Here’s How to Fix It

There are a number of ways that this can be resolved. I’ll go through several of them.

Keep Media in the Drive

Well, of course! If there is something in the drive all the time, no error! Simplest resolution, but it might not be practical. If you have one of those multi-card readers then this can be a pain to implement.

Make Sure Drive C Isn’t Removable

We don’t see this as often these days, but if your C: drive is a removable drive, you’ll get this problem often. If you can reconfigure your system so that this isn’t the case, that often resolves the problem.

Disable Unused Drives

Not my favorite option, but if you have a drive that you NEVER use, and you don’t want to take the trouble to physically remove it, then you can disable it in your Computer Management utility. I’ve seen people do this if they have multi-card readers in an office system where they’ll never use the reader.

Disable The Message with a Registry Hack

I generally don’t like to provide information on altering your Windows Registry, but it is an option that you’ll find in several Microsoft support forums. this turns off the error message – I’ve not found a situation where this would cause a problem, and if there IS  a problem then you can reverse this fix.
If you aren’t familiar with editing the Windows Registry, don’t do this yourself! Find someone who is familiar with the process AND who is reliable.
  1. Start regedit. If you don’t know how to do this, you probably shouldn’t be trying this!
  2. Got to the very top of the registry and select Computer.
  3. From the regedit menu, select File and then Export. This allows you to save a copy of the registry before you make any changes. Save this in a safe place that you can find easily if you need to restore it later (if you goof and clobber your registry).
  4. Locate the following registry entry:Computer\HKEY_LOCAL\MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows
    Windows Registry key to fix No Disk in Drive error
  5. Select ErrorMode. Double-click on it to edit the value, change the value to 2
  6. Exit regedit
This changes Windows so that it won’t generate this error message. Again, don’t do this if you aren’t comfortable with editing the Windows registry.

Update The Addon Software

Even though the bug is in Intuit’s SDK code, most add-on developers can resolve this. A program can make some Windows function calls (“SetError()”) that will tell Windows to not display that error dialog, by resetting the ErrorMode similar to what is done in the registry fix (there are several options). I’ve done this solution, and it works very well.

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