I'm going to tell you about the error message that made my evening a living hell-- "The Data is Invalid"-- in the hopes that my little story can help someone else avoid the travails and pitfalls that I encountered in my quest to correct it.
So, I got my new Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS the other day. Woohoo!
It took awhile to install... well, for a lot of reasons. My computer desk doesn't exactly allow quick access to my PC-- I have to move the monitor, remove the monitor shelf, crawl on the ground in an area about a foot and a half tall by a foot and a half wide to attach and detach cables, etc. And because it had a front I/O panel, there were lots of little bits and thingies to connect on the panel to other bits and thingies on the card. Mind you, the documentation wasn't particularly elucidating, either. But no problem with the hardware installtion, other than having the constant reminder of my own increasing age as I limbo'd to and fro beneath my computer desk.
No, no problem with the hardware installation at all. The problem was when I tried to actually install the drivers and software for the damned thing. Every time I installed the software, it failed at the last moment... apparently, because "The data is invalid."
OK, admittedly, while I had the foresight to uninstall the stuff for the onboard sound I had been using, I did forget to disable it completely in the bios. D'oh! So I uninstalled everything, restarted the computer, and disabled the onboard sound in the bios. Simple, right?
Um, no. Still not working.
I searched. Now, I'm one of those people who googles as second nature. It's not unlike me to google while I'm on the phone if someone asks me a question, or google a few answers when giving a teleseminar. I can usually find what I need and separate the wheat from the chaff in a matter of mere moments.
And I couldn't find the problem. For FOUR HOURS I couldn't find the problem.
Oh, I found problems, sure...
I found issues between Soundblaster and VIA motherboards (which I'm using).
Issues regarding incompatibilities with onboard sound (which I'm also using).
Issues that related back to Leadtek video cards (guess what-- I'm using one of those, too).
I found issues upon issues upon issues. It was like going to family counseling or something!
But the one thing I didn't find among all these problems was a solution.
FINALLY, on a winXP forum (I use Windows 2000 Pro), I found it.
Ultimately, all was fixed with a windows registry change. It wasn't the card(s) at all! It was kind of hard to track that down, since most issues were with Windows XP and not 2000, and their registries behave somewhat differently. But damn it, I found it.
Now what NORMAL person would know to look for that?!* I mean, seriously-- if there's a problem with major cards (or with Microsoft's OS) that calls for a registry change when these things are installed, why isn't that documented all over the place?
Holy smokes. I spent four hours on this thing, and while I'm not MCSE-certified, I'm somewhat more knowledgeable than the average bear. I shudder at the thought of what non-techies must go through in these types of situation.
What you can do if you encounter a "the data is invalid" error when installing video or audio cards (or other hardware, I suppose):
Change your registry. Mind you, this is advice from a stranger, and by following it, you absolve this stranger (me!) of any liability.
Follow these directions (be sure you follow them to the letter-- don't get sloppy with your registry, or you will regret it!).
Windows 2000 users: http://www.staudio.de/kb/english/datainvalid/#2k
Windows XP users: http://www.staudio.de/kb/english/datainvalid/#xp
I'm hoping that, by frequently using the term "The Data is Invalid" here, and mentioning things that other frustrated people are likely to look for (like the VIA motherboard and the Leadtek cards)**, perhaps some lucky googler can be spared the suffering I've endured.
Meanwhile, I'm loving my newfound sound*** :)
This is awesome. I'm hearing nuances I didn't know existed in music I'd listened to for years.
Recording capabilities are just as outstanding: I hooked up a standard, run-of-the-mill Radio Shack Dynamic**** Microphone to it, and even my voice sounds good. Maybe now I can get to work on pursuing more VO stuff!
Very cool soundcard... once you get it to work, of course ;)
* In this particular context, I'm not normal: We are Borg... or at least, borgish (not borgnineish).
** Some other keywords that I hope google might pick up on: invalid data, Leadtech, Leadtek, winfast, geforse, GeForce, GeForce2, GeForce3, GeForceFX, TI4400, TI-4400, TI4200, TI-4200, TI4600, TI-4600, nVidea, driver, drivers, Sound Blaster, Soundblaster, Audigy, 2ZS, 2 ZS, gamer, pro, data is invalid, registry, I hate my computer, creative labs, refund, install, installation, troubleshooting, #*$#*(.
*** Z got to listen to it when I was soundtesting it with his favourite band (this one). His father was thoughtful enough to point-out that the front input jacks would allow for direct connection to his guitar, so it was too bad he didn't have one of these, too. Now I have to get one for him, (and speakers, too!), or suffer his skilled use of the saddened puppy-dog-eyed child maneuver. *dies*
**** If you plan on using a dynamic mic, be sure to place the shunt on jumper JP1. I was so happy that I did that at installation and didn't have to go back in!
&&& I didn't mean to imply that Brent Spiner couldn't leave his house. You knew that, though, didn't you?