The world's biggest FireWire-bridge maker Oxford Semiconductor has released a second statement with regard to the FireWire 800 bug.

The bug can destroy data held on external FireWire 800 drives, and is related to software driver versions 1.03 and earlier, which shipped with products equipped with Oxford Semi's 922 bridge.

The UK-based manufacturer said: "After extensive testing we have identified that the issue related to data loss on FireWire drives under some Mac OS platforms occurs with 922-based products running software version 1.03."

Oxford released new software that solved this problem in early September, but it appears the new version code was not included in Panther or with software provided by drive manufacturers.

The problem does not affect FireWire 400 products equipped with the 911 and 912 bridges. The company recommends end users upgrade their systems with software patches currently being distributed by drive manufacturers.

"We can also confirm the problem is most likely to occur on shutdown, sleep or restart of the Mac with the FireWire 800 drive connected," the company said.

It added: "To avoid this issue on existing drives that have not received the software upgrade, users should make sure they power up their Macs before plugging-in their FireWire drive; then, before closing down, putting the system to sleep, or restarting the Mac, they should dismount and disconnect the FireWire drive.

“We recommend that all users of FireWire products look out for the latest versions of software and update regularly."

Firmware updates offered A flurry of firmware updates have been announced by FireWire drive manufacturers following Apple's admission of a Mac OS X 10.3 compatibility issue with FireWire 800 drives.

WiebeTech's Critical Firmware Update 1.05 for its Fire800 and MicroGB+800 products can be downloaded here. The company claims the update "resolves certain incompatibilities between Apple's Panther (10.3) operating system and FireWire 800 storage devices".

LaCie's Update Tool for OS X will enable OS X 10.3 Panther compatibility for the LaCie d2 FireWire 800 and Big Disk FireWire 800 drives. It will be available from November 5.

Mac and More will be releasing an update through its Web site within 24-48 hours, the company told Macworld this morning.

Other World Computing (OWC) is offering a Panther update for the Mercury Elite FireWire 800 Hard Drives. The company said: "Update your OWC Mercury Elite FireWire 800 drive today to avoid any problems with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. The safety of your data is of the utmost concern to us here at Other World Computing."

Firewire Direct has also released an update. The company said: "Anyone using any Oxford based FireWire 800 products – and that includes all products from FirewireDirect – must perform the update described on this page or risk catastrophic loss of data. Please read everything on this page. This is a serious matter."

EZQuest is also offering firmware updates on its Web site. EZQuest has announced all its FireWire 800 drives are now shipping with the updated firmware.

EZQuest president Ebrahim Zmehrir said: "FireWire 800 drives are used by people who store large files that they can't afford to lose. Our firmware update will allow them to continue to use their FireWire 800 drives without risking damage to their data or their drive."

All the firmware updates should be installed while running an older version of Mac OS X.