Friday, August 21, 2009

Six Years of Pictures and Over 100 GBs of Music, Gone

From as long as I can remember I’ve been told to back up my data. I thought I was covered with an external hard dive…

Several weeks ago as I was waking up my computer I heard the sound of my external hard drive spinning up like normal. But, before the desktop finished loading, I heard one of the worst sounds you can hear coming from the external hard drive enclosure. The two hard drives were spinning non-stop, for no reason. I shut down the computer and then shut off the external hard drive.

I waited 10 seconds and turned on the computer. This time the hard drives didn’t spin up at all. I was staring at two solid red LEDs on the front. When the external drives are working, you should see two green LEDs blinking as the data is being synced.

My heart fell into my stomach. I have over six years and 24 Gigabytes of pictures and hours and hours and well over 100 Gigabytes of music stored on the drive. After I bought the device, I made sure I formatted the drives to mirror the data. This halved the usable data on the device, but ensured I’d have two copies of my files.

I began to freak out. I’ve never restored a raid before. Worst case scenarios started going through my mind. I could only imagine how much money it would cost for a data recovery software, or god forbid a data recovery service. It would cost two or three times more than the drives, not to mention if the data was even recoverable.

Since the hard drives in the enclosure used the SATA interface, I drove to my local Microcenter. Thank god for Microcenter… I was able to find an external SATA hard drive cradle that could connect to computer with USB. I also picked up two new hard drives, just in case.

As soon as I got home, I labeled the two drives as I removed them. I then put the first drive into the cradle. I crossed my fingers and connected the USB cable to my computer. Nothing. I couldn’t even mount the drive or see any data at all. Crap.

I swapped the second drive into the cradle and connected it to my computer. No dice. I then open the Disk Utility application and hit refresh. The application found the drive and mounted it. I crossed my fingers again double clicked on the folder icon.

All my data was there. My pictures, music and movies.

Now that I had my data intact, I installed the two new drives into the external enclosure. I didn’t want to take any chances. I then used the same Disk Utility application to create a new mirrored raid drive and then began to copy my data. It felt like it took forever to move the data to the new drives, but I was thankful the data was still there…

I learned a lesson. While an external drive is good, I’m going to make it a practice to back up my pictures onto DVDs every 3 months. I’d rather lose a few months of pictures than worry about all my pictures. I’m even considering dropping off the DVDs in our safe deposit box.

You really don’t worry about backing up your data until it’s gone. At that point it may be too late or an expensive ordeal. Don’t wait, back up your photos and personal information today!


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