But balanced against the one great advantage of RapidLok for the legitimate user was at least one major disadvantage beyond even the obvious one of not being able to make a backup copy. In manipulating the Commodore 64 disk drive in ways its designers had never intended, RapidLok put a lot of stress on the hardware. Drives that were presumably just slightly out of adjustment, but that nevertheless did everything else with aplomb, proved unable to load RapidLok disks, or, almost worse, failed intermittently in the middle of game sessions (seemingly always just after you’d scored that big Silver Train robbery in the case of Pirates!, of course). And, still worse from the standpoint of MicroProse’s customer relations, a persistent if unproven belief arose that RapidLok was actually damaging disk drives, throwing them out of alignment through its radical operations. It certainly didn’t sound good in action, producing a chattering and general caterwauling and shaking the drive so badly one wondered if it was going to walk right off the desktop one day.
The belief, quite probably unfounded though it was, that MicroProse and other publishers were casually destroying their customers’ expensive hardware in the name of protecting their own interests only fueled the flames of mistrust between publisher and consumer that so much of the SPA’s rhetoric had done so much to ignite.
This is a good description of the pros and cons of RapidLok; the only thing I have issue with is the first line of the second paragraph, 'quite probably unfounded', a claim for which the author provides no justification.
I remember that floppy drives did sometimes go out of alignment. Code that produced an unpleasant hammering sound from the drive, was really doing what it sounded like: repeatedly hammering the read/write head against the stop. It seems physically likely that this will tend, over time, to knock the head out of alignment. In other words, a reasonable default would be that the belief that RapidLok damaged floppy drives, was well-founded.
Is there any evidence to the contrary?
Did such code really knock floppy drives out of alignment?