Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh oh ... Windows has detected a hard disk failure ....

This dreaded error message has popped for me before ... what is it with me and hard disks? Anyway, last night I dumped my 1075 images onto my F drive and this morning, my C drive started popping this message.

Turns out that this message comes from the S.M.A.R.T. subsystem built into the hard drive, and it is warning me that failure is imminent. This first time this happened, I got a free replacement on warranty. That drive is small and is sitting in a box acting as a USB backup drive.

Note: If you have not enabled S.M.A.R.T. in your BIOS settings, I suggest that you do so. This may have saved me a total meltdown and loss of all data.

This time, it's my 500GB main drive, and I can't stand the thought of reinstalling all of my software yet one more time. I am well organized -- I have a secondary backup 500GB drive on USB and I run AllWay Sync, a nice little automated backup shareware program that cost me something like 20 bucks. Recommended. By the way ... don't bother with the free version, it's volume limit is pretty low and the Pro version is dirt cheap anyway.

I also use a secondary backup on the Internet, called Carbonite. It is an automated client that will push any changed file up to backup automatically. For about $50 per year, you have peace of mind. My images and email are too valuable to risk a permanent loss.

All that said ... my images are on a secondary disk, so I have three healthy copies of every image right now. The issue is all of my software, documents and email ... my entire archives minus images that is. Also my 45GB iTunes library. Gotta protect those.

Now, once the message starts popping, you need proof that there is a problem. Seagate (Maxtor, Quantum all part of the same company now) make a free tool called SEATOOLS that I downloaded and ran, I ran two basic tests -- SMART and short disk test. Both came back failed.

So ... I took the machine in to Over The Top Computing, a local shop run by a friend of mine from back in the dojo. He will be replacing the drive with a new 1TB drive and will attempt a sector copy so that the new machine thinks it is the old machine. That saves me all sorts of hassle regarding reauthorization of iTunes, Carbonite getting confused, and so on. Here's hoping.

I should be able to pick it up in the morning ... I want to get back to processing those lovely models in the evenings ... time is ticking away to the time when we all get back together to review the work with Crombie.

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