It’s a hard(drive) life…

I’ve been moving along nicely with converting my, err, digital life[1] to the Mac over the last month.

I’ve re-ripped all those CDs that I had previously ripped to the dead external hard drive. Well, those that I still wanted to listen to, and some I hadn’t got round to previously. You know how it is with music – there’s stuff you listen to a lot, then forget about for a while, then come back to again, then repeat the cycle. That’s been going quite well, and I’ve managed to do about 300 or so discs so far.

Then there was the slight matter of my photo archive. While I’d copied the most recent images to the Mac and got them into Lightroom, there were another 6,000 or so still on the Windows PC – around 40GB or so of the things. Now that would be a bit of a problem, as what with documents, music, applications and a virtual machine, there was only 40GB or so left on the Mac Mini’s 120GB hard drive. Well, that was easily fixed. All I needed to do was get an additional Firewire external hard drive, move the data to there (and be sure to use Time Machine to back it up to the existing external drive[2]).

So I did some searching and researching and reading and thinking, and bought a multi-interface 500GB Western Digital thingy from those nice Amazon people. It was one preformatted for Macs, which seemed quite friendly. So when I got it home, I hooked it up and, err, not a lot happened. After disconnecting it and letting it rest for a while, I reconnected it and it worked. I put this down to temporary oddness and proceeded to copy my data. And it all seemed quite happy.

A day or two later, the Mac locked up. Like totally locked up. Couldn’t run Activity Monitor to see what was holding it up, couldn’t force quit any applications, in fact couldn’t do anything except hit the power switch. It came back up happily enough and I moved on.

Then it did it again. At this point, I was beginning to wonder of the new drive was upsetting it. Finally, it did it one more time and this time, I could see what was happening. I was trying to play a song from iTunes, and the Mac seemed unable to open it. Spinning beachball thingy, other applications not responding, etc. Powered off and on, and this time the new external drive didn’t mount. Or even appear as a device of any kind. Aha!

So, I disconnected it, removed its power, waited, tried again. Nothing. The pretty blue light on the front stayed dark. It appeared to be dead. So I checked the warranty, and found that WD would replace it. They’d even send an advance replacement if I let them have a credit card number as security to make sure I returned the dead one. That, I would have accepted. But they seemed to think that I was going to pay to deliver the dead drive to them. Uh uh. Oh no. Not doing that. Fortunately, Amazon, quite apart from being a very useful supplier of all manner of things, have a sensible return policy.

I filled in the form, reported it as faulty and got another form to fill in to get DHL to collect the thing. No cost to me, and I’ll get my money back. I decided that I’d rather not risk my live data to another one of these, so I’ve ordered something different, direct from Apple this time. Apparently it’s already been sent out, and I should have it on Tuesday.

As a temporary measure, I’ve moved the USB WD drive I was using for backups on the Windows PC to the Mac. Once it was mounted, I was able to restore all my data from Time Machine. This took a few hours, but that was OK.

It occurred to me that the dodgy drive might jsut be tempramental, so I connected it up one more time to see if I could wipe it before sending it back. Naturally, it worked this time, but it’s had it’s last chance already. I removed my data, and now I’m letting the Mac write zeroes all over it to make sure it’s all gone.

What I think was happening was that the drive was helpfully going into sleep mode to save power, and then completely failing to come back again. Lights on, nobody home….
[1] Such as it is, etc :laugh:
[2] Salvaged from the wreckage and inserted in a moderately cheap enclosure