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  • Catastrophic Drive Failure

    Anyone ever had a really REALLY important drive fail on them?

    We just did here where I work. It's classic. No current backups. In the process of getting pricing of off site backups, just a little too late. I'm technically the go to guy for IT stuff around here but really, I just like to tinker with PC's and it's not my primary job function. Nonetheless, I'm pretty distraught about it?!? Which is rather perplexing to me. Our office (Engineering firm) kept ALL our CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) drawings on an external 500Gb WD Mybook drive. Pretty much EVERYTHING our company does. This morning, 3 of us simultaneously said that we'd crashed out of our drawings. One of my other co-workers from across the room said "really? I crashed too". <-----those emoticons are perfect for what went through my brain.

    SO...first thing that comes to mind is server connectivity. I log on to my remote administrator program and the server comes up with several failed to write errors on the drive... (deservedly an additional eek). I meander back to our server (which used to sit directly behind me till we got rearranged. To hear the drive clicking every other second. Mind you, i heard that baby clicking a good 10 feet away so it kind of annoyed me that our office manager who now sits where I used to did not hear it nor bothered to tell me that something didn't sound right.

    After messing with it I decided to open her up and see if I could put it into my PC (as suggested through a web-site for possible causes of failure for that particular piece of reliable equipment) and that didn't work. More and more clicking.

    Finally. I gave up and called our local computer gurus. They came straight away and took the drive so they can play with it and hopefully recover our data. If not, they're going to send it out to a 3rd party to recover data. Back to square one.

    Any other Horror stories?







    As I was about to hit submit, our computer people called. The drive is DEAD. They're sending it out to the third party people to diagnose it. Cost estimate $500-$2500. The information on the drive is Priceless. Had to make the call to my boss to let him know.
    -kp!

  • #2
    Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

    These two sentences should never be uttered in the same discussion, especially in today's world, where computers are ubiquitous:
    Originally posted by Kungpao View Post
    The information on the drive is Priceless.
    Originally posted by Kungpao View Post
    No current backups.
    Your boss should never have allowed that, and may have just learned a very hard lesson. "Priceless" just earned a price of $500-$2500.

    Ouch.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

      Check out Carbonite for off site backup....
      website - http://www.brianhancock.com
      blog - http://blog.brianhancock.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

        [HT just ate my post and I forgot to copy-paste before I hit the Submit button. I guess that's my version of a HD failure with no backup ]


        *whistle*

        Ouch

        G'luck with that, Kungpao. Definitely not your fault. Stuff like that is typical at small companies. If the data isn't recovered, do you think everyone will be forced to take a "vacation"?

        I've had a HD or two fail on me, but nothing critical. This guy lost 40 GB worth of photos from his Thailand trip. Cost him $300 to recover it.

        I assume you folks with go with an off-site solution, after this. If you need an on-site solution, your company might want to consider a RAID setup (non RAID 0) and a number of UPS'es (one for the server and for any external drives).
        "By concealing your desires, you may trick people into being cruel about the wrong thing." --Steven Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer
        "You gotta get me to the tall corn." --David Mamet, Spartan
        "
        Amateurs talk technology, professionals talk conditions." --(unknown)

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

          While the topic of backups is being bounced around, what is the easiest and reasonably priced backup to use for a home computer (PC) that holds tax records, a ton of word documents (work related), and endless emails?
          Now run along and play, but don’t get into trouble.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

            Originally posted by Amati View Post
            While the topic of backups is being bounced around, what is the easiest and reasonably priced backup to use for a home computer (PC) that holds tax records, a ton of word documents (work related), and endless emails?
            Just pick up an external hard drive that is large enough (slightly larger storage size than your PC's drive should suffice), hook it up (generally by USB), and copycopycopy. Many of them come with software that you can configure for regularly-scheduled backups.

            I've used a few MyBook drives from Western Digital, for both work and home, that have given good results - but that's just one of many brands out there.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

              I admit I'm a bit neurotic when it comes to backing up...altho' not neurotic enough to back up as often as I should...

              I work off of a 40gb external, portable hard drive (soon to be a 160gb) and back that up on my computer...instead of the other way around. For some reason this bass ackwards approach works best for me. In town I have a 500gb ext. HD that gets the same 40gb back up. When in Makaha I back up the 40 giger to the computer that resides out there and to a 250gb ext. HD. Only the 40gb portable HD gets transported back and forth.

              I've saved many master data base entries with these back ups. Ditto for my iTunes library. Many tunes have become corrupted for reasons unknown. I've been able to find uncorrupted copies in my back ups.

              I've had many hard drive failures but only one (that I can remember) that cost me one day's worth of work time which necessitated postponing a casting session.

              I last backed up yesterday!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                I know two people who have recovered their own hard drives by taking the bad drive apart and swapping the platters with an identical drive that works. No clean room, and both times, it worked perfectly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                  I store all my source material and archives on Level-1 RAIDs (mirrored). Anything I'm working on gets backed up on a separate drive.

                  ALWAYS assume the hard drive will crash soon, because hard drives crash at the worst possible time.

                  A company I worked at failed to heed my advice several times, and lost huge amounts of unique, irretrievable material more than once. To this day I'm amazed the IT guys didn't get fired after they made the same mistake a second time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                    Originally posted by MyopicJoe View Post
                    If the data isn't recovered, do you think everyone will be forced to take a "vacation"?

                    If you need an on-site solution, your company might want to consider a RAID setup (non RAID 0) and a number of UPS'es (one for the server and for any external drives).
                    Yeah, I'm not sure what those are (raid) but our computer guys mentioned it to me when he picked up the drive. Our server is indeed on a UPS. My pc USED to be. Now every time it rains, I make sure to save my work more frequently.

                    Haha, no, no vacation(unfortunately...i'd rather be working on my house) I've already started compiling old data from autosaves on local machines and E-mails we've sent/received. Boy the two guys that were on vacation all week are going to be in for a surprise when they come in Monday morning. See, the architect sends us a plan and we create a new drawing which references that plan and pretty much draw on top of it. When my software autosaves, all the stuff I've drawn on top of the referenced plan gets saved to my local drive. Unfortunately, the referenced plan does not as it's just referenced. This saves space on each individual file and allows someone to update the plan while I'm working on the other stuff. Stuff being, ductwork, electrical, plumbing, structural members etc... SO, I've got 2 years worth of autosaves on my local drive and we've got most of the newer e-mails with the architect's drawings. Technically, we can work but it's just a matter of time to rebuild things.

                    Originally posted by Leo Lakio View Post
                    I've used a few MyBook drives from Western Digital, ....
                    FYI, not to make you uneasy or anything BUT, according to our computer people talked to the tech at the drive recovery place and when he mentioned it was an external drive, the recovery place specifically said "Was it a Mybook?" Apparently they get their share of them. The mybook we had was a WD Caviar 500GB SATA drive.

                    Originally posted by zff View Post
                    I know two people who have recovered their own hard drives by taking the bad drive apart and swapping the platters with an identical drive that works. No clean room, and both times, it worked perfectly.
                    I think I'll leave the recovery to people who get paid to do that sort of thing Besides, I've already had my review/raise for the year and it's not my money going towards the recovery lol.

                    Originally posted by Composite 2992 View Post
                    I store all my source material and archives on Level-1 RAIDs (mirrored). Anything I'm working on gets backed up on a separate drive.

                    ALWAYS assume the hard drive will crash soon, because hard drives crash at the worst possible time.

                    A company I worked at failed to heed my advice several times, and lost huge amounts of unique, irretrievable material more than once. To this day I'm amazed the IT guys didn't get fired after they made the same mistake a second time.

                    TWICE?!? Man, I wouldn't be able to live with myself after making that mistake. I've got a pretty clear concience because I've told my boss on numerous occasions that we should be looking into this If it weren't for me actually, we wouldn't have any sort of backup. I at least have old information from several years ago on disks at my home.

                    My wife works at a bank and one of their "regulars" brings in a hard drive to put into his safe deposit box once a week. Apparently, he has 2 drives and he clones his working drive once a week and keeps it in the box.
                    Last edited by Kungpao; June 27, 2008, 06:09 PM.
                    -kp!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                      Originally posted by Amati View Post
                      While the topic of backups is being bounced around, what is the easiest and reasonably priced backup to use for a home computer (PC) that holds tax records, a ton of word documents (work related), and endless emails?
                      I would go with Leo's suggestion. For your situation you just need an external hard drive.

                      Copying the files over manually is as simple and cheap as it gets, if not labor intensive. If all your word docs are in one folder, then it should be easy to drag and drop. If you're using TurboTax I think it stores things in "Documents", "My Documents", or someplace like that. If you're using Outlook, it stores everything in .PST files, I believe.

                      As Leo also suggested, external hard drives tend to come with free software for doing scheduled backups. You could give that a try. You still need to know which files/folders you want to backup (or you could do your entire main drive which is slow and takes up a lot of space).



                      Originally posted by tutusue View Post
                      For some reason this bass ackwards approach works best for me.
                      Heh, cute play on letters, Tutusue Your setup makes a lot of sense, because you work in two places. The data in your hard drive is the center of your universe, not the computers at home or in the office.



                      Originally posted by zff View Post
                      I know two people who have recovered their own hard drives by taking the bad drive apart and swapping the platters with an identical drive that works. No clean room, and both times, it worked perfectly.
                      Heh. Gotta love tinkerers.

                      I'd be too nervous to do that. No eating Cheetos while touching those disks; they're finger print magnets!

                      I have to admit, those highly polished aluminum platters are very pretty. They make excellent mirrors. Probably better than makeup mirrors, if it wasn't for the huge hole in the middle.



                      Originally posted by Composite 2992 View Post
                      To this day I'm amazed the IT guys didn't get fired after they made the same mistake a second time.
                      What's that line from Kids In The Hall? "It's pretty amazing how far you can coast on charm."



                      Originally posted by Kungpao View Post
                      Boy the two guys that were on vacation all week are going to be in for a surprise when they come in Monday morning.
                      I'm sure people are used to missing staplers or chairs when they come back from vacation, but not years of work!



                      SO, I've got 2 years worth of autosaves on my local drive and we've got most of the newer e-mails with the architect's drawings. Technically, we can work but it's just a matter of time to rebuild things.
                      Awesome. Glad to hear you can put at least your work back together, with a lot of grunt work. The company owes you one.



                      FYI, not to make you uneasy or anything BUT, according to our computer people talked to the tech at the drive recovery place and when he mentioned it was an external drive, the recovery place specifically said "Was it a Mybook?" Apparently they get their share of them. The mybook we had was a WD Caviar 500GB SATA drive.
                      I've heard that too, about the MyBooks (one of which I happen to own).

                      I think one big problem is how people use them. Customers want quiet external hard drives, which means no fans to cool them off. After a few minutes of non-use, these drives spin themselves down, to avoid excess heat. The problem comes when people use these external drives as their main hard drive, always reading and writing data to them, never giving them a chance to rest. Without fans, they're meant for only occasional use (to back data up at the end of the day).

                      I think Western Digital uses the same quality drives (I could be wrong) in their MyBooks as you would get in your personal computer. The difference is your computer has a noisy fan which keeps things cool. Heat kills hard drives.



                      My wife works at a bank and one of their "regulars" brings in a hard drive to put into his safe deposit box once a week. Apparently, he has 2 drives and he clones his working drive once a week and keeps it in the box.
                      Heh heh, interesting. I would LOVE to see what's on his hard drive Does he happen to be a photographer by chance?

                      If your data is your livelihood, storing one copy off site is critical. If you read the prospectus for some publicly traded tech companies in Silicon Valley, it'll say something like, "We have mission critical data backed up and stored at a MidWest site, in case the Big One hits San Fran or the entire western seaboard gets taken out by a tsunami." For backups you keep at home, you might want to consider putting them in your fireproof safe with your other important documents.

                      Also realize recordable CDs and DVDs don't have as long of a shelf life as you'd think. Some people reburn them every few years. Quality varies widely. Acid from pen marks or adhesive stickers can etch away the thin silver lining where the data is stored. Heat and time can fade the dyes used to store the data. Recordable DVDs aren't made in the same way as the movie DVDs you buy at the store.

                      I read a story about a photographer who kept all his film negatives in his basement. Flood basically destroyed all his life's work. The only thing he had left was a framed picture in his living room (he had to make copies from that print since the negative was lost). He was so heart broken, he couldn't touch a camera for 10 years. He's now a digital photographer and goes through great lengths to backup his photos.
                      "By concealing your desires, you may trick people into being cruel about the wrong thing." --Steven Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer
                      "You gotta get me to the tall corn." --David Mamet, Spartan
                      "
                      Amateurs talk technology, professionals talk conditions." --(unknown)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                        Another great solution for serious users is:

                        Drobo

                        These things are awesome. my only mark against it is it doesn't have a firewire connection only usb.

                        Here's a great demo video with a hottie tech chick here


                        It makes RAID easy as pie
                        website - http://www.brianhancock.com
                        blog - http://blog.brianhancock.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                          Oh! Way cool, LM. I was trying to google for something like this at consumer prices instead of a $5k solution from IBM, but I wasn't having much luck with the search terms I used.

                          Yeah. Too bad it's only USB 2.0 and not Firewire too. I suppose you can drop $200 for the option to attach it to your Ethernet network.
                          "By concealing your desires, you may trick people into being cruel about the wrong thing." --Steven Aylett, Fain the Sorcerer
                          "You gotta get me to the tall corn." --David Mamet, Spartan
                          "
                          Amateurs talk technology, professionals talk conditions." --(unknown)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                            Originally posted by Leo Lakio View Post
                            Just pick up an external hard drive that is large enough (slightly larger storage size than your PC's drive should suffice), hook it up (generally by USB), and copycopycopy.
                            Yup.

                            Next up for us is a "fireproof" safe or an offsite safe-deposit box. I'm a bit reluctant to put the external HD in the fridge with my backup DVDs... but it'd probably work fine when it warmed up to room temp. Maybe it's just better to send a decade of photos (about five GB) to a Photobucket or Picasa account. Indexing & organization would have to be identical, though.

                            In the early days of PCs it was said that the only people who appreciated backups were the ones who'd seen flames shooting out of the back of their hard drives...
                            Youth may be wasted on the young, but retirement is wasted on the old.
                            Live like you're dying, invest like you're immortal.
                            We grow old if we stop playing, but it's never too late to have a happy childhood.
                            Forget about who you were-- discover who you are.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Catastrophic Drive Failure

                              Originally posted by Kungpao View Post
                              Anyone ever had a really REALLY important drive fail on them?

                              Any other Horror stories?
                              A few times across a 30 year span. Got even more horror/war stories when it comes to doing backups and restores.

                              Originally posted by Amati View Post
                              While the topic of backups is being bounced around, what is the easiest and reasonably priced backup to use for a home computer (PC) that holds tax records, a ton of word documents (work related), and endless emails?
                              By any chance do you know how much space in terms of Mbytes (or Gbytes) you are using (at least for the tax records and the ton of word documents)?

                              Also if the tax records is not related to your work you might want to consider them to placed on a different media (or backup set). Why you may ask? If their ever come a time to hand over all of your backup set to another party that just needs to see one aspect of what you do, do you really want them to see the rest of your stuff?

                              Originally posted by Leo Lakio View Post
                              Just pick up an external hard drive that is large enough (slightly larger storage size than your PC's drive should suffice), hook it up (generally by USB), and copycopycopy. Many of them come with software that you can configure for regularly-scheduled backups.
                              This is assuming you just want to keep one backup copy of your stuff. It also depends on how often you want to do a backup. Once a day, once a week or once a month?

                              Assuming your stuff is really important and you can afford it, get 2 to 4 of these external hard drives and alternate their usage. If you backup once a week and use 2 external hard drives for this, you use drive #1 for this week backup, then use drive #2 for next week's backup, and then use drive #1 again for the backup two weeks from now and then use drive #2 for the backup three weeks from now.

                              This will give you two things, if one of the external hard drives fail you still have yet another backup that can be used. And two if a file (or files) on your primary hard drive that is constantly edited you have a snapshot of it from at least two different time periods that you can possibly recover from.


                              Originally posted by MyopicJoe View Post
                              Copying the files over manually is as simple and cheap as it gets, if not labor intensive. If all your word docs are in one folder, then it should be easy to drag and drop. If you're using TurboTax I think it stores things in "Documents", "My Documents", or someplace like that. If you're using Outlook, it stores everything in .PST files, I believe.
                              Outlook does not store it's files under My Documents, it stores it another folder that is hidden (said folder is not a sub folder of My Documents, it is however at the same level as My Documents in your account). What you need to do first is to export your Outlook PST file to another file that will be located in the My Documents folder, that way it will be copied when the My Documents folder is backed up.

                              If you value your Internet Favorites or your browser's bookmarks, find out how to export them too, that way they get backed up too.

                              Comment

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