Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Conversation

We join our heroine at the tech support center for the college. Her laptop is still acting up, but now things have gone from bad to worse, as the computer, when it deigns to turn on, no longer seems to "see" the external hard drive that she's been frantically doing backups on...

TECH PERSON: Okay, plug the external drive into the computer for me, and I'll see about reformatting it.

NOTORIOUS [plugging things in]: Thanks. It doesn't see it, and it's been making a weird noise. But the port itself seems to be working fine.

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Click. Click-click. Click.


NOTORIOUS: What is it?

TECH PERSON: Oh. That's bad.

NOTORIOUS: What is it?





Susan said...


Prayers to all known deities who guard computer data offered.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

If you have irreplaceable data on that external hard drive, do not let any tech support person do *anything* irrevocable to it until you get a second opinion. There are a range of possible approaches to getting your data off it intact, from the simple and free to the complex and expensive, but you should consult with a data recovery expert.

One really simple possibility is to plug the thing into a Linux box and see if the volume can be mounted from Linux.

SweetCliffie said...

You really should be using a cloud storage service. There are many of them, and all of them offer free accounts up to several gigabytes . . . certainly enough for every document you will ever write.

I use Dropbox, and it works more-or-less perfectly. When I work on a file and save those changes, the changes are synced instantly to the cloud. If I screw up and need to recover an older version, it's available to me.

The only startup issue is that you have to move all of your files into a new folder, called Dropbox. So for instance, if you now have your folders in a directory called ~notorious/notorious-work-files, you'll have to move it to the newly created, ~notorious/dropbox/notorious-work-files

I know this won't solve your present disaster, but at least it will prevent this from ever happening again.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I think that the Cloud is the answer, but I haven't had time to play around with it. If my rescue operation today finishes up on time, I'll ask our Tech Guy to help me get set up.

(Yes, I bet it's not too hard, but the first time I do anything I like to have someone walk me through it.)

Janice said...

Put the hard drive in the freezer for several hours and try to plug it into a computer. That's helped me to grab some data from a dying drive.

Gah! You have my sympathies because I'd be more than crying. Even with relying on the cloud for back-up, there are things you don't want to lose in local copies!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Janice, I'm afraid the freezer won't work. The clicking is mechanical; as in, there's a physical piece of the hard drive that's not where it's supposed to be.

The laptop itself is working fine at the moment. The only issue is that I don't know how long it will continue to do so.

Getting a new hard drive installed this afternoon. Candles lit, fingers crossed.

Dr. S said... is the easiest thing to set up. You won't need a tech person to do it for you (until you want to install a dropbox folder onto your computer; depending on what kind of administrator privileges you have on your computer, you might need someone's help for that). Even if you're going to go with another cloud system sometime soon, get over to dropbox and get your essentials backed up. (Say I.)

Janice said...

Oh, dang for the mechanical failure on the hard drive. Yeah, at that point your options narrow dramatically.

Here's hoping that you get a good ten years going forward without a single tech failure as compensation for all the grief you've experienced of late on that front!

Dr. Dad, PhD said...

Mental note. Backup my backup. ASAP

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Tech got it going long enough for me to make a new backup of the content. Then he swapped out the hard drive. Seems to be working okay. Only needs to hold out three more months. More would be nice, but three months will get me through.

HFM said...

If you need to get a new external drive anyway, you might consider getting a dual. That way, data on one is automatically backed up on the other, so if one fails, you just replace it and go on your way.

They sell cheap enclosures that will handle this for you (look for RAID 1), where you just need to buy two hard drives and snap them in. I have one from Cavalry, which I got on Amazon.

They're twice the (physical) size of a single drive, but so worth it for data you'd rather not lose. Ideally, the drives should be the same size and manufacturer, but it's not required (you'll just be limited to the capacity of the smaller one).

<- bioinformatician who wrangles microscopy data...if you'll excuse me, I've got to go download another 50GB experiment ;-)

Melete said...

"click click click"? ogod. It's bad, all right.

Find someone nearby who knows how to recover data from crashed drives. Sometimes it can be done. The job may not come cheap, but if a rescue can be done, it'll be worth the cost.

If you can't find anyone in your parts, e-mail me or get in touch thru' my website's comments and I'll send you the name of my guru, who has done some miraculous things. He calls himself the PC Magician (his mantra: "I can make your computer problems disappear"), and he's not kidding.

In addition to DropBox, there's a cloud storage service called Carbonite. It will automatically back up data as you create it. However, you must be very careful never to lose your password, because the way it's encrypted, no one at the company can retrieve a customer's PW. It's supposed to be about as secure as a Cloud application can be (how secure that really is, o'course, remains to be seen).

This is so dismaying. I sincerely hope you have some luck at retrieving your data.