Oh, what fun

A couple of years ago, I bought a 500MB external hard drive. It was a moderately fancy one with a Firewire interface as well as the more usual USB2. Quite a handy thing to have, really, and I soon extended its use from the original plan of being purely a backup device to actually keeping things on it. Like most good IT professionals, I had a plan to keep copies of important work on CDs or DVDs as well as on the hard drive. And like a very large subset of such people, I tended not to get round to it as often as I should.

And yes, my tendency to not get round to things has bitten me in the bum. On Tuesday evening, I was doing various computery things when I heard a couple of clicks. Hard disk clicks of the kind that are never good news. Then I heard some even less welcome sounds – the ones Windows XP makes when devices are disconnected and reconnected. To cut a long story short, the drive seems to have died. It did briefly reconnect for long enough to register lots of errors in the Event Log, and to upset Windows enough to crash the shell. How rude!

Naturally, it’s just out of warranty, but even if it wasn’t, all the manufacturer would do is replace the actual drive (assuming it’s as sick as it seems to be). I’ve bought a replacement[1], and I’ve set it up for backups.

I’ll have another look at the old drive at the weekend. There are a few tricks which might work for long enough to try to get it working long enough to copy some data off it.

What have I lost? Well, not too much really:

  • Photos: not the originals, which are on my internal drive[3], but lots of processed files. I have the converted JPGs on my website, Flickr, and Photobox, but the layered Photoshop versions are gone. Unfortunate, but I probably wouldn’t have used many of them again.
  • Old backups: lots of these, including previous versions of my website, and hundreds of backups of the database behind Losing it[1]. No real loss there.
  • Music files: a mixture of rips of my own CDs, which will most likely need to be done again, and Napster subscription tracks, which I can download again. I’ve started the download, which will take a while
  • Assorted stuff. Nothing really important or irreplaceable.

So, I got off quite lightly, really. I’m looking at this as a learning experience[4]. As from now, anything I want to keep lives on my internal hard drive[5] and will be backed up to the external drive. And I’ll work out a plan for backing that up to CDs or DVDs.

In the longer term, I’ll upgrade the external drive to a more sophisticated RAID thingy, which will survive having a drive die.

You may now mock appropriately.

[1] Same size, different brand[2], about a third of the price…
[2] Well, duh…
[3] And now backed up on the new external drive
[4] I normally prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes, but there you go…
[5] I may add another one to make this easier