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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:39 AM
Original message
If your hard disk failed the next time you boot your computer..
How much will you lose? As you press the button, the display where
those nonsensical words pop up before "windows" stays there and says

I/O FAILURE 3403 BOOT DEVICE NOT FOUND

Everything on your hard disk is lost. Was there anything you wanted?

This happened to myself not long back, and i had to pay 600 bucks to
recover some data from the drive by a special recovery service that
reads dead hard disks.

I learned subsequently, that many newer computer hard disks come with
a specific life span, like 5 years, and once they reach their date,
they crash. Do you know if you have such a disk?

How much would you lose?
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:41 AM
Response to Original message
1. I have an external HD (120GB) and my computer HD (60GB)
I backup my data files to the external. So if one fails, I still have the other.
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qnr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:45 AM
Response to Original message
2. Best bet is to get another drive and put your
current boot drive in a secondary slot (or on another IDE bus) - lots of times, the info is just fine, but the boot info is bad. If you can boot with another drive, you have a good chance of recovering the data without a $600.00 expense.

Most drives are SMART or SMART2 capable these days, and will warn you if they are close to failing or experiencing lesser problems. It's simply a matter of finding out how to get that information to you. Unfortunately, I don't use Windows, so I can't give you any specific recommendations on that.

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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:53 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. I wish i could simply run mirrored
My post-trauma solution is to have two EIDE disks in the box, one
called "time hole"... and i regularly copy important files to this
second drive. However, there is the laziness of forgetting to
shift some data.

What i really want, is to have the second drive run as a mirror for
part of the file system "my documents". It seems that this is not
possible under XP, or at least i don't know how it is done.

Making backups is simply too large, 22 CD's to back up my photos
and whatnot... and this is only getting bigger.

BTW, the machine that crashed was a 2 years old Dell, just in case
you think your safe with a trademark brand machine.
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qnr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:57 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. I build my own from scratch.
Yeah, mirroring your drives is a great way of doing it. Either manually (or automatically) or via a RAID system. I've been using computers for way too long, I use a SCSI tape drive to back up my data periodically. But that's an expensive option --- I only do it since I got the drive cheaply when the University I worked for was upgrading things. I back up to rewritable DVDs on my other computers.
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okieinpain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 01:30 AM
Response to Reply #2
32. best bet is to keep a good backup. if you into serious stuff
r/w dvd's every day. if you're just wanting to keep current once a week or maybe even once a month is cool.
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Occulus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:45 AM
Response to Original message
3. Oh Christ.
I'd lose a huge amount of stuff. You've just given me good reason to go out and buy three or four more blank DVDs.

Geez. I'm actually shocked at how much I would lose if my drive bailed out on me on my next reboot.

That said, I also have several older reliable drives that I'm using. Time to transfer some data, I guess...
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Mojambo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:46 AM
Response to Original message
4. It would be devastating
And I'm such an idiot for not backing up. I have the backup software, I could probably afford some storage media, but I simply have not done it.

Shame on me.
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nutsnberries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:51 AM
Response to Original message
5. i'd lose quite a bit as i learned a couple of months ago.
i had my data retrieved too.
approx the same price as you. ouch!
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. man that hurts
I realized when it happened that i had no choice, but to recover,
and it really pissed me off... that i was so trusting, when dang
i know better. Professionally, i'm a backup nazi and insist that
work is backed up onsite and offsite every night... full backups
every week, incrementals every day... yet at home, i let it slide
until it bit me hard.

The part of me that din't feel like spending 600 bucks for a speeding
ticket, just growled... dang, i shoulda listened to my own bullshit
and gotten another backup drive... i guess it takes getting burned
to learn better.... just i'm a slow learner, as this is the second
time this has happened to me in 15 years, the first time, i lost
everything and was not able to recover.... but back then, it was
hard to backup on floppy disks... now i've no excuse with DVD's
at the very least.

It still hurts, 600 bucks is an economy flight to a warm sandy
beach and a few maitais.... and geez, i'd much rather have that. :-)
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UL_Approved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:06 AM
Response to Original message
8. Get a Seagate drive
I'm using a Seagate 120GB SATA drive right now. Its has worked flawlessly. I have an old Quantum drive from 1999 that I use once in a while, and it is fine too. As for the startup problem, that sounds like a virus/worm/spyware. Try this:

1. Shut down your machine.
2. Physically turn off and unplug ALL parts
3. Wait 5 minutes
4. Plug back in, turn on switches as necessary
5. Restart

This stands to give you some hope of restarting the OS. It worked for me a few months ago with a virus. Give it a shot. If that doesn't work, try looking for SpinRite at this URL:

http://www.grc.com /

This is one of the best data recovery tools out there. The guy who programs actually makes good software. Hope that helps.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:18 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. It was a Western Digital 100GB drive
I went through all the lesser steps praying that it was not
what it looked like.... but it was a mechanical failure,
as it turns... and they needed to open the drive up to recover the
files on a special machine.

As a software engineer, i'm used to leaving machines running all the
time, as that is the industry tradition... but as this PC was at
home (and noisy!) it gets shut down once or twice a day. I suspect
that a hard disk has a limit to the number of spin ups and downs it
will do in a lifetime, as indeed, it is electro mechanical, and all
mechanical things ultimately fail.

Thanks for the recovery URL. I plan for there not to be a next time.
;-)

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UL_Approved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:18 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. Western Digital is POS
Western Digital is the WORST line of HDD I have ever encountered. The data recovery issue has been encountered by most owners of WD that I have met. NEVER BUY WESTERN DIGITAL. Followed by Maxtor.
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huellewig Donating Member (700 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:12 AM
Response to Original message
10. Not much
I burn alot of CD's. And I made a applescript to back-up my Mozilla profile to a zip disk twice a day. And I use gMail so my e-mail is safe. And all of the work stuff goes to a remote server with a RAID for safe keeping. I actually had my hard drive hosed a few days ago by the Comcast install cd and it took about fifteen minutes to format, install the OS, and install my Applications. This is with Mac OS 9.
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FM Arouet666 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:21 AM
Response to Original message
12. No, I don't agree
I have hard disks on old systems which I connect to my network to store crap. Some systems have as many as 6 or 7 disks with added power supply. Some are 10 years old or older. Drives tend to last for very long periods of time depending on use. Most of mine are on all the time, in the sense that the box is powered up, but not active with access.

I have had the same error you had, but with a driver error, or connection error. If, after switching the disk out of the main box, you still have the error even with trying to access the disk with Dos or Linux, you are stuck.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:46 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. I like that
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 03:00 AM by sweetheart
I'm a software/hardware industry professional, who has in past lives
held titles like "Hard drive evaluation engineer, <large computer
manufacturer>". It was a mechanical failure. I believe that it has to
do with power cycling the machine soooo many times.

It was unspoken doctrine, even in your post, that the machines stay
up all the time running.... but the new home user shuts the lights
off when they go to bed, and turns on the computer and off, like
they do the bathroom lights. Though the industry now runs in the
home, it has not adjusted to the reality of home abuse of computers.
Reality, people turn the things off regularly.

When i spoke with the disk recovery people, they said there is a
boom in business from home users who lose hard disks, just like my
situation, and that some drives don't handle regular power cycling
well. As well, they did point out that some drives have limited
life spans.

You can't "disagree" with entropy. All physical systems fail,
eventually. If you powercycled your rack a lot, you'd probably
come to that sooner.

Good that it has not happened to you. I wrote this thread, so
that my friends on DU do not have to endure the painful recovery
costs. And it seems i'm not the only DU'er who's had to have
a drive recovered recently. Agree, disagree, no matter.

I know the old electronic engineers maxim... "check the connectors,
check them again... no CHECK them aaagggaiiin... its always the
connectors." I spent 2 days plugging and unplugging, i even found
another drive of the same make and swapped controllers, hoping it
was a solid state failure... all to no avail... down hard.
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FM Arouet666 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 11:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
29. You trump me
in the experience department, I am just a silly doctor with a life long hobby toying with computers. Your right about entropy, disks eventually fail, and when they do, ouch. I guess I have been lucky but never really thought about it till I read your post. I started leaving my systems powered up after I migrated my servers over to Linux, which has a tendency to misbehave with repeated reboots. Since leaving my little network of 5 computers up I have had a lot less problems.

I think I missed the gist of your post with my reply, It was late when I read it. I guess what I spotted in your post was the idea of a finite life span of a disk, I took it to mean a specific programmed shut down period. Again, It was late. ;-)

Your absolutely right, if you cant afford to lose the data or afford the expense, back up now. I tend to place important info in multiple places or on DVD. I can't tell you how many times I have lost data with disk failures or Windows glitches.

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Neoma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:22 AM
Response to Original message
14. This is why everyone should try backing up their computer
like photos,music,links,games,files

remind yourself to do that sometime
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huellewig Donating Member (700 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 04:28 AM
Response to Original message
15. BS
"I learned subsequently, that many newer computer hard disks come with
a specific life span, like 5 years, and once they reach their date,
they crash. Do you know if you have such a disk?"

They don't have a self destruct mechanism. This isn't Inspector Gadget. Sure, they might have a estimated life span. Some only make it one year and some make it nine. Maybe you are thinking of warranty? And, the hard drive in my Beige G3 is 7 years. It runs OS 9 so it gets restarted multiple times during the day. :-)
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:55 AM
Response to Reply #15
19. inspector gadget
Its been 2 decades since i "did hardware", so i first asked a local
chappie who is the local PC repair guru, and he said that some of
the "appliance" manufactuers were having disk controllers going dead
on their exact 5 year dates. He didn't say which ones, and not
the ones i was dealing with. He showed me a pile of hard disks that
he said were all dead on with their dates. He said, that most were
from cheap PC's built straight from far eastern components in the UK,
but not the dells.

I can't help but wonder, as PC's become more and more of an appliance
around the house, and less of an IT specialsts's thingie, whether
like a dishwasher, they'll have limited operational life built in
in advance.

Interesting your take on Western Digital. Funnily, the computer is
under warranty still, and Dell replaced the drive with another WD,
and its wholly dissatisfying to hear your views on them.

Perhaps in the future, i'll use apple stuff and avoid this virus,
crash and OS buggie universe that has become of the windows PC.
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huellewig Donating Member (700 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:15 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. I agree with parts of what you said.
"I can't help but wonder, as PC's become more and more of an appliance
around the house, and less of an IT specialsts's thingie, whether
like a dishwasher, they'll have limited operational life built in
in advance."

I think they do. My sisters two year old washing has more problems than my ten year old one. I think this is the result of making cheap crap, and not a self destruct date. And my main contention is a hard drive is very important. Imagine the lawsuit if it came out Seagate destroyed my data to get me to upgrade.


"Interesting your take on Western Digital. Funnily, the computer is
under warranty still, and Dell replaced the drive with another WD,
and its wholly dissatisfying to hear your views on them."

WTF? I never said anything about Western Digital. Is that what's in my computer? If it is I gave them praise.

"Perhaps in the future, i'll use apple stuff and avoid this virus,
crash and OS buggie universe that has become of the windows PC."

I was just informing people of my computer. I wasn't pushing Apple. Nothing I said was untrue, and it wasn't intended to be evangelism.

Oh, and Windows sucks, use FreeBSD. :-)
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:45 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. oops...
UL_approved said Western Digital was crap near the top of the thread
, and i mistook usernames sorry.

I hate windows, but i need Excel, VB, Word/viso, or i'm out of
compatability with the finance business community.

My dad has an apple that has never had a virus problem or any of
the headaches of my plethora of windows desktops and laptops.
I thought i was being smart by keeping my main work PC off all
networks, and only moving files using a USB key to it, and THAT
was the machine that hosed the disk.

I'm thinkin' of shifting over to apple for recreational computing
and leaving MS-crap on the work machines. I really wish they'd all
get with the simplification mantra. When i started driving in the
70's i used to have to gap my plugs, adjust timing and "tune the
car up" every month... now i just drive for years at a time and
no bother. I hope PC's can get down a similar path.

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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:23 AM
Response to Reply #15
23. Actually, I made a study of disk failure characteristics

and it's certainly not random.

Disk drives suffer a great deal of "infant mortality", followed
by a fairly robust "mid life", and then start dropping off
at "end of life". So, basically, without mistreatment, a disk
drive that survives the first month or so will likely last 3 to
4 years. After that, it has a lot to do with the number of start
stop cycles and the environment. If a drive is left on all the
time and is kept clean and cool, it could last 7 or more years,
possibly as many as 15 years. We don't allow this to happen because
almost all technology becomes obsolete long before the end of life
for these drives. Five years is about right for a medium duty
IDE drive (which used to NOT be as rugged or long lived as SCSI
drives... what would typically happen is that in the manufacturing
process, any parts that were marginal would be assigned to the
IDE drives, whereas parts that were superior would be used for the
more costly SCSI drives... You can tell this by looking at the
manufacturers MTBF ratings for specific drives... this is not true
anymore, current SATA drives are every bit as good as SCSI drives).

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huellewig Donating Member (700 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:31 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. This isn't about random death.
The original poster made it sound like the makers of hard-drives had them die on a certain day. On average they might only last five years. I agree. My current one has lasted much longer, my last one only made it a few months. And most electronics are DOA or last forever. I know.
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 07:14 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. The study I was doing was about people buying RAID

disk systems. See, most RAID systems use one type of drive from
one manufacturer, sometimes even using sequential drives off the
same production lines. This can really throw off the MTBF(raid)
as it assumes that the MTBF of the individual drives fall into
a uniform distribution pattern centered on the the stated MTBF
of the individual drives. BUT, these drives come off the same
line, use the same parts, experience the same power cycles and
environment, and, not surprisingly, behave very close to the same
way... meaning that having two or more disks failing in the same
RAID group before enough time has elapsed to the MTTR of the RAID
group (usually measured in some number of hours) is actually
a much more likely event than the mathematical calculation of the
MTBF(raid) would indicate.

So, while it's true that disk makers don't do a preset "time to
fail" into their drives... you could buy a set of identical drives
and, after seeing them work for 5 years, see them start failing
within days or even hours of each other. Which might make you
think that someone was doing planned obsolescence.

I think all I was saying to the poster is that 5 years is a
very typical time to fail for a disk drive which is not kept
spinning continuously and not kept in a clean room environment.
At least, that's what my study found.
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Kellanved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:31 AM
Response to Original message
17. A lot
That reminds me: I have to create a backup.

But HDs can last longer, the problem is that off-the-shelf PCs often come without HD heatsink. While the specs say that HD temperatures up to 68C are OK, the rule of thumb is that anything over 40C reduces the life-span. Also: shut the PC down if yo don't use it: at least set it to turn-off the HD after a certain time. The thermal stress is far worse for the drive than the spin-up / spin-down it endures during boot /shut-down. Also, a drive with an defective motor is cheaper to recover than a full-fledged Head crash (although a defective motor can cause a head-crash).
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:42 AM
Response to Original message
18. You are making the business case for my company

I founded a company about 5 years ago to solve this very problem
(for the average consumer). Did it with a special disk driver layer
that automatically created a archive log of every change to a disk
drive (really a logical volume). Could either record the changes to
another local volume or send them to a remote site (or both).

Could restore your system to any point in time in the past.

Sold the company (and the patents and software) to a major backup
storage company... who is using it only for large server applications,
not consumers (too sophisticated for ordinary people they said).

Oh well. I still use it for my home machines.

It's way better than mirror volumes because mirrors will dutifully
corrupt BOTH volumes with user error, software upgrades, viruses,
etc.

Wish I had raised the money to offer the backup service to everyone
for something like $5/month for a home computer (or maybe even just
$30/year depending on amount stored... I had all sorts of spread
sheets and projections and stuff for the Business Plan).
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:10 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. funny how poorly the industry serves
The information appliance user. The end user's demands are rather
simple. Store my data, don't loose it... and i consider my data
to be entirely "my documents" and any source code and databases,
not microsoft configurations and all the application crap they
load in as part of "my".

Another thing that users need to do, is turn the computer off quckly..
another thing the rocket scientists have buggered up majorly. This
PC i'm typing on right now takes most of a minute to shut down, and
i have to wait by the whole time to press the off button at the end,
as the autoshut don't work. I've gotten so peaved at it, i've
started turning it off at the power strip without even bothering
to shut down. No data is stored, whatever "configuration's" it
claims to be saving during that minute of waste, is nothing i use.

This PC kept hounding me from the start-bar to load service pack2,
so i finally said OK, and it buggered up my internet speed for 4 days
loading in various bits of what not, so that it runs slower.

Then i turn it on, and it comes up with a login prompt on a one user
system... DUMB. And when i do click login, it then spends about 2
minutes loading up god knows what, while i wait there... as if the
user has nothing better to do than wait for microsoft. Why does it
not figure out that i'm gonna probably use "explorer" like i did the
last 5000 times i logged in and pre-load the whole mess during the
boot up, so it don't waste my time when i have to "log in".

The industry serves itself, but it certianly does not serve consumers.

Mirror'd systems and incremental logs of edits have been industry
standards since IMS on mainframes, TMF (Transaction monotioring
facility) on Tandem, CICS as well... ancient antiques have always
protected user data with incremental logs... but this has failed to
make the leap in to crap microsoft junkware. Its infuriating to
see the evolution of personal computing in rote regression by the
adaptation of the stupidest, and as the industry is driven by the
cheapest, rotting out a whole generation of sophistocation for crap.
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:59 AM
Response to Original message
20. Depends on the class of data
Personally generated data I diligently back up. This is mainly the stuff I've written over the past 21 years, all the way back to files from the Commodore 64 and Atari ST I had. It also includes just about every bit of work I've ever done for clients as an independent contractor since 1988.

Stuff on the web I wrote -- like DU postings -- I also back up, but weekly, since they are still recoverable on-line.

Stuff I downloaded -- "warez", news articles, music, literature, what have you -- I seldom back up unless it's a hard-to-find favorite. A lot of the music from indie musicians I get on IUMA and MP3.com I back up. I don't download very much popular music at all -- about a year ago, I downloaded some Michael Buble stuff for a friend of mine, who subsequently bought the CD anyway. As for porn, the only porn I have is the inadvertently funny stuff that I used to get as Spam (like the picture of the bonobos screwing while one was eating a piece of fruit).

The first MP3 I ever downloaded, though, I've kept -- a file of Blondie's Dreaming. And I have at least two other copies I bought as records/CDs.

I also occasionally record radio shows to hard disk for later listening, as well as TV shows that are available on Torrents. None are archived.

So that's my plan. Make of it what you will. But back up every byte of data that is precious to you, because it's not a question of IF, it's a question of WHEN.

--bkl
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fknobbit Donating Member (479 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
27. next time Remove the drive and place same carefully into the freezer
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 08:13 AM by fknobbit
Wait 30 min and Reinstall the drive and cross fingers. Sometimes mechanical problems (locked drive)will be corrected, at least long enough to run a backup. If that dose not work give it a moderate rap on the table.

I have two computer builder/repaitman friends who use nothing but WD and swear by them because of warranty mostly.
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TXlib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 08:24 AM
Response to Original message
28. I just bought a RAID controller and second hard drive
I got the Adaptec RAID 1200 controller card from CDW, and a second hard drive, and installed them in RAID 1 configuration.

What this does is mirror the first drive, to provide data redundancy. If one drive fails, you lose nothing. In fact, if I understand correctly, in the event of a drive failure, I can continue using the computer, but I get a warning message that a drive has failed, and that i must replace it.

I highly recommend it!

I also noted that new computers shipping with serial ATA drives offer the option to get a second drive in RAID 1 config.

Next computer I buy will be done this way.
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Prisoner_Number_Six Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
30. I do software-based recoveries for a lot less than that!
Edited on Mon Nov-15-04 12:03 AM by Prisoner_Number_Six
There's a good trick to use if your drive is crashing and you need to save some files before it goes- take the hard drive out, seal it into a ziplock baggie, and stick it in the freezer for a couple hours. It works- I've used the technique successfully several times. On edit: this assumes you can put the hard drive back into a computer with a working system and a hard drive you can copy the files to.

NOTE: This is a one-shot LAST RESORT gimmick, and there's no guarantee it will work. Once this method has been used, it rarely works a second time, so try all other options first. Other "unstick" techniques include firmly but evenly jarring the drive (perhaps by holding it flat in your hand and rapping it firmly onto a tabletop). Browse the web for dead drive recovery tricks- there are lots of experiments you can try if you can't afford a service like me. Use them at your own risk. Again, NO GUARANTEES.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 01:23 AM
Response to Original message
31. All the really important stuff is in my head...
And my photographs, my music, and my writings dating back to 1979 (and beyond...) are on CD, paper, and/or dispersed across the internet.

I learned a long time ago not to depend on any one computer.
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