Scott Robinson (quadhome) wrote,
Scott Robinson


There were two packages sitting on my counter. The one on the left contained a brand new 120 gigabyte hard drive. The one on the right held a broken 80 gigabyte hard drive that had formerly contained the last four months of my life.

London Calling

My laptop's hard drive died.

I have never had a drive die on me. Since my first pair of RLLs, I have always purchased and used Western Digital HDDs. There's something that over a decade of reliability can instill in a consumer.

But, the 2.5" Scorpio in my laptop died. It didn't just start spitting out bad sectors—I've recovered other people from that. No. It totally, and completely, died. If I plugged it in, the only response would be a musical beeping sound. The one time it did spin up, it was as a "0MB WD SATA."

I mean, who knew HDDs had speakers?!

Murphy's Law is, of course, in full effect. I normally use my laptop as lightweight mirror for Tara, my main computer. But, since I moved from Pullman, I haven't made the time to get Tara back up and running. If you're keeping count at home, that's almost four months of work.

Emergency Room

I have a habit of making my mistakes more painful than they otherwise should be. My rationale is a controlled compounding of failure encourages you to be far less likely to screw up in the future. What this post-hoc thought process reflects about my psyche is an exercise left to the reader.

I asked the hive-mind about hard drive recovery and in short order gave ReStoring Data an e-mail. Their initial quote was $500-$1000.

I paid $975 for a repair and file dump.

They were nice enough to ship me a NTFS formatted HDD with all my files on it. Nevermind that my original drive was formatted ext3. That's Windows vs. Linux for the non-technical.


So, I grabbed the boxes and went upstairs to where my laptop had been sitting for the better part of two weeks. I plugged the new HDD in and confirmed it was working. In short order, I found myself smiling at a progress meter for an Ubuntu installation. I then turned, frowned and stared at the old HDD that had let me down.

My new HDD is Western Digital. But, my old HDD is Western Digital too. I don't know how I feel about this situation. It's like a best friend "accidentally" slept with your ex-girlfriend. I mean... it was just this once, and over any length of time statistically something like that was bound to occur...

Bring it back, bring it back

Once Ubuntu was up and running, I completely ignored the drive with the clean file dump. As far as I'm concerned, that's a suspenders to my ghetto fabulous saggy jeans. ReStoring Data made the mistake of sending me this e-mail:

From: Sales <>
To: 'Scott Robinson' <>
Subject: Case # 042205 - Recovery Completed

Hi Scott,

Yes, we will ship you back your original drive as well. The drive is fixed now so it should be working for you. However, we never recommend using a faulty drive again as it is a matter of time until it fails again. That is why we would recommend copying the data onto a new drive so that you have a safe backup.

Oh! They're clearly saying that I can plug in my old drive and copy over the files exactly from the original. How nice! Let's do that.

6 Hours Later

It mounted once and then, never again. Bad sectors everywhere; and, in particular, over the top of the root directory structure. I manually dumped a broken image with dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=resa_old.img bs=4k conv=sync,noerror. That matches the file system's block size and fills in nulls where it couldn't get the data. It only took all night.

The file dump drive draws too much power for my enclosure. Basically, I can't plug it into my laptop and get the data off of it. I'll get a bigger enclosure from Fry's when I go with buildmuscle.

I ran e2fsck on the image and it shat a brick. Almost every directory has corruption. I tracked down my home directory, though, and incredibly it seems mostly unscathed. Ironically, all the real hits were on my Trash folder since I never emptied it. I used to discount those things, but I think I'll continue my practice of ignoring them.

I have my projects back. I have my passwords back. I have my notes back. I have my pictures back. I have my mind back.

I'm working on my music.

Tags: spewing
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