Try this...push a pin into the reset hole in the bottom of the player while at the same time holding down the play and power buttons. This should bring up the recovery screen. Then run the "clean-up" function. That will probably fix the problem and will not delete your music. If you reformat or dump the firmware, you will lose your music files.
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I had the same problem. Mine would go to the Sleek Photo Screen and then the Creative screen. After that it would freeze and do nothing. I tried to reset, reboot, all that. I downloaded the newest firmware, but my pc wouldn't recognize the player. I went in to the control panel and hit add/remove programs. I removed my WMP 11 and the WMP runtime (I heard these can mask the player). Sure enough, I rebooted the pc and it recognized my player. I was then able to launch the firmware update and now my player is working like a charm.
What you have to do is flash the firmware. And this is another huge problem. If you have WMP 11 you have to downgrade/uninstall it from you computer or use a computer that doesn't have it on. Next connect your MP3 player after you have: 1. cleaned it 2. formated it (you get to the recovery menu by holding play/pause sign and inserting a paper clip into the reset orifice. Once it is recognized a menu will pop up asking you if you want to do various things, one of them is to sync or add files to your player using WMP 9 or 10, depending on the machine you have. CLICK that option. Next you have to run the firmware application provided on the Creative website and that will flash your player with the firmware. It should work fine afterwards.
Make a backup of of the files if you care about them before you start this adventure.
I decided to open it up to check out the hard drive to see what kind I would need so I could try replacing it. The data plug that attaches to the hard drive itself was partially unplugged. So, I pushed it back in all the way, put it all back together again, and turned it on just to see if something different might happen. (I had it set in my mind that the hard drive failed and I would need a new one, so I didn't expect anything different to happen) And to my surprise, it worked just like new again.
Before you go off and invest in a new hard drive, I suggest opening it up and make sure that plug is in all the way. Since you'll be opening it up in any case, it wouldn't hurt.
It only sees the player if you are using Windows Media Player 10! Try a fresh computer. Get it to see the Zen Sleek by updating the driver. Load Media Player 10 (Not 11) and try the update firmware program again.
Best of luck
Why does technology make you work for what you already paid good money for? Have you tried going into Recovery Mode? You do this by holding down the Play/Pause button while triggering the Reset button. Once there, you have four options. Try selecting Disk Cleanup and then Reboot. You might need to re-Sync a few things but it's worth a shot. Good luck.
This is important; because, if you cannot get into Recovery Mode, then
this is a sure sign of a bricked player. You could try a forced hard
reset by going in and disconnecting the battery, but chances are, the
player is bricked. try updating the firmware.