A Tale, Told

In the tradition of all made up holidays, June has been declared Backup Awareness Month by Seagate and Maxtor. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, but I really wish I had known.

I will now recant to you a tale of woe and terror. One involving a hard drive, ten years of photos, documents, and home movies.

I get up one day and think to myself, “I should really back up the home directory on my laptop.” So I made a shared folder on my network at home, and booted up my laptop.

Or at least, I pressed the power button on my laptop and listened to the hard drive make a “hrrrgh” noise over and over. I cycle the power. No dice. Slightly nervous now, I try booting from CD, which works, but then the system can’t find the hard drive. I grabbed a firewire cable and Morgan’s iBook. Target disk mode fails. Zapped the PRAM. In all of my attempts, the hard drive refused to boot, or even be recognized.

Several desparate power cycling attempts later, I figured that either the hard drive or the controller are out.

I was now the proud owner of an aluminum paperweight.

I checked my last backup, and I realized that I don’t even know where it is. So, there goes the important stuff, lost to me forever due to my poor nonexistent backup practices.

One of my options was professional help. I considered sending it to Ontrack data recovery. They’ll look at any hard drive for one hundred dollars and let you know what can be recovered. After that, it’s a minimum of $700 all the way up to $2300 for a recovery, depending on whether or not they have to use the clean room. My office has used them before, with great success, but it’s an altogether different thing when it’s your money and your data. It feels like they are holding it hostage. Tycho wrote about their experience with a data recovery company in the same manner. I’d link to his post but their site is hosed at the moment.

What I’m saying here is, “Please back up your data.” It’s not a matter of whether your hard drive will fail, but when. This is why “Mean Time Between Failure” is a technical specification on hard drives. Regardless to say, I had lost a good portion of my personal photos and writings.

But, it wasn’t the only thing that started going screwy. The next day, my D70 experienced the blinking green light of death.

The day after that, my iPod had to be hard reset.

After that, I get my credit card statement and find that I’ve been charged twice for a watch repair. I call the watch repair shop, and they can’t fix it right now because they are too busy giving a statement to the DC Police because they have just been robbed.

Well, the robbery certainly wasn’t my doing, but it certainly felt as though my IT Support Field had reversed its polarity.

Then, my birthday dinner happened, and I’d like to thank everyone that came out. I had a great time, I hope you all did, too. I spent my actual birthday on holiday from work, and this morning returned to my office, where my aluminum paperweight had been sitting on my desk all weekend.

I had resigned myself to sending it to ontrack. Of course, I had to try one more time. I invoked whoever would listen and hit the power button.

In the span of one minute, the paperweight turned back into a laptop. Needless to say, I got my photos, documents, and movies off of there post haste. Photos and documents are safe. Movies made it over except for fourteen files, and then the hard drive made clickety click noises. I’m fairly certain I have those movies on MiniDV anyway.

I got extremely lucky.

I have my photos, documents, and movies (my music was on an external drive, fortunately), my laptop is in limbo, my D70 has been repaired and cleaned, and my iPod contains my address book data, so I’m covered on that front.

I don’t have some applications I’ll probably have to repurchase, an iTunes authorization for puchased music, and unfortunately, my Delicious Library info. Which means I’ll probably have to rescan and grab box art for a lot of games.

Sitting on my desk at this moment is a DVD labeled “June 27, 2006 BACKUP.”

At some point in the day, I hope your desk has a similarly labeled DVD.