Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Have A New Hard Drive, Sort Of


WARNING: Boring computer geek post ahead...

With all the photos that I have on my computer, I was really nervous about a hard drive failure robbing me of all my digital images.

So a couple of years ago I bought an external hard drive, a 500GB one. That was massively huge two or three years ago, but now you can get 2TB (TeraBytes) hard drives for a reasonable price.

Then, about six months ago, I became worried as my external hard drive was filling up with 35mm slide scans, digital photos, and print scans from the flatbed scanner.

I bought a second external hard drive, this time a 1TB one. Pretty huge.

Then about two months after getting the 1TB hard drive, the original 500GB external drive I had bought stopped working.

I was so glad that I had bought that second external drive. I lost no photos.

When we got some tax money earlier this year, I got a subscription to Carbonite, an online backup company that claims to have unlimited backup for a certain price per year.

They truly have unlimited backup, but if you are like me and want to back up a pretty massive amount of data somewhere other than your own home for the ultimate backup, then the backup takes a LONG time.

See, Carbonite works in the background on your computer and only can upload about 4 GibaBytes per 24 hours. But I let it do it's thing and haven't heard any complaints from Carbonite about me having too much stuff to back up.

Lately, as I have felt better after my surgery, I've been spending time at the computer here and there as pain levels permit, and have organized and thrown away a bunch of computer files so that my Carbonite backup will be as small and convenient as possible for both them and me.

But that 500GB hard drive dying on me bothered me a lot, so I began looking for web sites where folks mentioned the problem I had with this particular hard drive and it turns out that one major problem was a recent firmware upgrade release that I, and others apparently, put on our external hard drives.

This latest firmware (similar to software but used to program a particular chip on the circuit board that controls things, in my case how the hard drive operates) killed mine, and anyone else's who upgraded to the latest revision.

But I had noticed that even though I couldn't use that external hard drive any more, I COULD hear it spinning when power was applied to it.

I began to think that the hard drive itself wasn't dead, but just the control interface within the cover of the external hard drive case.

Now you know engineers LOVE taking things apart, so I broke out my tools and went to town and freed the hard drive from the enclosure. I have to say that Western Digital makes a first-class, rugged hard drive enclosure for their external drives.

I turned off and unplugged my desktop computer, opened the case, stole the SATA cable from my CD/DVD reader-writer (which I don't use much) and installed the "broken" 500GB hard drive into my desktop computer.

I turned the computer on and what do you know, I had a 500GB internal drive show up with all my old files still sitting there pretty as you please.

Now I have the original 250GB internal drive, another internal drive which used to be an external 500GB drive, and also a 1TB external drive.

I have all my files backed up at home, and many of them backed up on Carbonite too, in case something drastic disaster happens to my home computer.

I'm still sending stuff to Carbonite as it finishes each batch I sent it previously.

But I won't be through worrying until I have all of my digital images uploaded to them as well.

Since I have a copy of every file I have on that one external 1TB drive, if something happens while I'm at home, I can just grab that one external hard drive that's the same size as a hardback book, and skee-daddle.

P.S. I bought another SATA cable that allowed me to reattach my CD/DVD drive and now have my complete computer again. I know you were worried about that temporarily unconnected CD/DVD drive.

6 comments:

imac said...

If you are with Virgin Media, they back up all the stuff you want.

Norma said...

Boring, but useful information.

JAM said...

Yeah. Boring, but such is my life right now. I'm just glad that I was able to get back use of this hard drive.

Ruby said...

Whew, it's surely a relief that you did not lose a single photo. That 1TB hard drive serves you well. True, having an online backup of your files can guarantee you a safe location for your valuable data. I'm glad you found that online backup company. :)

-Ruby Badcoe

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