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Do NOT let this happen to you

My hard disk didn't even crash. Sure, the laptop had nearly four years of heavy use, but it was a tough, built-to-last Dell Inspiron desktop-replacement behemoth. The keyboard was going (no e's in the morning), and I knew that replacement time was near, but the hard disk was behaving just fine.

Thursday night, right in the middle of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," the screen went dark with a ftzblp sort of sound, and Dell was Dedd. Or at least, it had a rattle.

Friday evening I was able to make it go on again. Yay! I did some email, chatted a bit, wrote in my offline journal...then ftzblp. I got on my thank-God-I-have-it other computer and did some reading about those regular backups I should have been doing.

And on the principle that no matter how many horses have escaped, closing the barn door is a worthwhile action to take, on Saturday morning I went to CompUSA and bought an external hard drive.


Dell coughed about half of My Documents up onto the new drive before breathing its last.

Firm in my conviction (or fervent in my hope) that the hard disk was still viable, yesterday I removed it from the Dell, returned to CompUSA, and bought an enclosure for it. An enclosure, I had just learned, makes an external hard disk out of a formerly internal one. Universal! Fits all 2.5" laptop HDDs!


The enclosure didn't fit, those liars.

I returned to CompUSA yet again, where a real nice guy (who was looking a little bored on this Super Bowl Sunday (and you should have seen Home Depot and Lowe's! Empty, I tell you)), showed me how to make the enclosure work.

free--actual customer service! Go, CompUSA!

I took it home and plugged it in to my working computer.

The old hard drive whirred and clicked (yes, it really whirs and clicks--it's doing it right now) and came to life. Yay! I started copying stuff. It kept going. A couple of hours later, the copy was done. The Little Hard Drive That Could was fine. My entire life over the past three-plus years was safe. Yay!

Then late last night I went to establish my Opera browser and email on the new computer. No email. Years of email, gone. The file was missing, and the directory it was supposed to be in was, like a grease-stained copy of The Da Vinci Code, both "corrupted and unreadable."

So I downloaded some software on a trial basis and set it running. It ran all night. I woke up at 5:00 this morning and checked on it. An hour and a half of searching in the cryptic world of recovered filenames finally turned it up: my vast store of email was in F33487FBHTYGHB. Just like you'd think.

To restore the recovered files (of which there were a bazillion), you have to actually buy the software. So of course, I did.


The moral of the story is: if you don't do regular backups, and there's a problem with your computer, and you're really, really lucky that your HDD is actually still spinning and not utterly corrupted or physically broken, AND you have another computer at hand, then for the low-Low-LOW price of only


plust two trips to a computer store and three days of anxiety, you can say, "Backups? I don't need no stinkin' backups."


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 5th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
I did do a certain amount of headless-chickening in my head. And you should've heard the hallelujah chorus that went up when I actually found my email and contacts archive this morning.

Fortunately, the novels and fic and personal journals and stuff all came over in the first pass, before Dell croaked, so there was never that loss to worry about. And besides, I've become very calm lately!

(Deleted comment)
Feb. 6th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
In the short term, I trust LJ to keep my entries safe for me on their servers. But in the long term, I think I'd like to preserve my introspective brilliance somewhere private. It's funny, isn't it, how important one's words are?
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 6th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
Just ask yourself, madam: What Would Adam Do?
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 18th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
I tried for AGES to come up with a limerick riposte involving Miss Jones and hipbones, but nothing worked. I love limericks!
Feb. 5th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
holy shit!

*makes note to back everything up to my external hard drive, which up until now, i have been using exclusively to hold all those downloaded video files. the damn thing is nearly full and it's a 150GB*
Feb. 5th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)
Ack! That's a whole lotta videos! I think I might burn 'em to CDs or DVDs and free up the 150 gig for some backup. I've learned...
Feb. 5th, 2007 11:44 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about the computerized hiccup. We just stared using our backup system only two nights ago. We've had the external for a couple years now. So many things could have gone wrong. Glad your situation is workable again.
Feb. 6th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh good! Are you doing a remote backup somewhere? I'm thinking of setting something up on an FTP server in some unlikely-to-flood city for critical docs.

Your icon has something to do with espresso, right? Or a sewing machine?
Feb. 6th, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)
Not doing remote, but that would be a great idea for critical items.

Yeah, not a very good closeup of the portafilter spout.

Straight up!
Feb. 6th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
Jeez louise. That sucks. But I'm glad there were solutions.
Feb. 6th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC)
The suckage was greatly alleviated by the fact that my one-step-at-a-time approach actually solved the problem! If it hadn't, I'd be mourning the loss of many a fine email and god knows what other irreplaceable documents.
Feb. 6th, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
Oh no! Not in the middle of Studio 60!!! How did you survive! :o)

I'm glad everything worked out. Backups certainly are a wise practice!
Feb. 6th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Happily, it was my second viewing of the episode. I am unaccountably nuts about that show.

Necessity is the mother of invention and hard-disk fiascos are the mother of wisdom, however belated. Best practices are now firmly in hand.
Feb. 6th, 2007 08:57 am (UTC)
Oh dear, I've been meaning to get an eternal hard drive...

And my computer is a Dell Inspiron, about four years old too...

Feb. 6th, 2007 08:57 am (UTC)
Hee - eXternal hard drive. Freudian slip.
Feb. 6th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
LOL! Good one. Last I heard, the closest you're going to get is a sort of serially-eternal hard drive: buy a new one before the old one fails.

They come much cheaper than the one I bought. It's amazing what emergencies do to your budget.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )



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