Hard drives, that is. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the sad demise of my old external hard drive. Well, at the weekend, I finally got round to taking it apart to see how it worked, and if it could be salvaged. Interesting thing. inside the heavy metal case was a small circuit board and two 250GB Western Digital Caviar hard drives – the kind I tend to buy for general use, as it happens. The circuit board is a RAID controller, which (to get distinctly non-technical) joins the drives together so the computer sees them as one big one. This is great for maximising storage, but not so great for security of your data – if one drive dies, you lose everything, as the files are spread across both disks.
A bit of research revealed that the particular model of external drive I had has a tendency to die. Sometimes it’s the controller, and guess what? It seems they don’t make them any more, so you can’t get a replacement. But more often it’s the drives. Hard disks can (and do) die at random intervals, but it may be that the case design lets them get too hot, and so they can fail earlier than might be expected.
So I’ve bought a neat little thingy – a USB to hard drive adaptor. Basically it’s a plug with connectors for standard ATA hard drives, little laptop drives and SATA drives, plus a power adaptor with more connectors than seems reasonable. The first drive I tried didn’t want to talk at all, but the second one did mount. It was a bit confused, as it thought it was a 500GB drive, and after a lot of mumbling, Windows told me that it was borked. So, I’m reformatting it (to the correct size), and I’ll make some use of it. I’ll give the other one another look, but it looks like it was the source of those nasty clicking noises.
Oh what fun. The funnest bit was trying to add a card with extra USB ports to the computer. It didn’t like that at all, and refused to start with it installed…
 Some data recovery may be possible, but it costs a lot. Definitely not worth it in this case