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2059 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2132472 23-Nov-2018 10:01
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My 2008 Mac Pro is still going strong thanks to a 500GB SSD that I installed about five years ago. It needed a special little enclosure to make it fit the 3.5-inch bay, and then some shenanigans to clone to old HDD, but it works like a charm. My decade-old Mac boots up so fast that my browser is open before it has even connected to the WiFi network. On the downside, 500GB is not enough space anymore, and I've been progressively transferring things to the other internal hard drives to avoid running out of room, which kind of defeats the purpose. Just this week I had to work out how to create a symlink so that my iTunes backups would go to another drive, since they were taking up 150GB of the SSD. With a NVMe, I could get a 3.5-inch adapter and pop it in, with the option of adding another, and finally have enough room for all my stuff!

Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at


Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, AppleTV4.

333 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 2132476 23-Nov-2018 10:29
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OK. My HDD failure story. I was a foreign PhD student at a US University. Thinking I was ahead of the crowd, I stored all my research data, thousands of dollars worth of satellite imagery, on a mirrored RAID array. That's it, I thought, they can't both fail at once! The statistically probability of that happening is minute. So I have to leave the USA, due to family issues. I get a leave of absence and go back to my home country, bringing my RAID array with me. After a year, my leave of absence is up but I am unable to leave my family.


One day I turn on my PC, and both HDDs fail at once. Can it happen? I don't think so. So my mind goes into overdrive ... maybe Uncle Sam didn't like me having all that satellite data now that I'm no longer a graduate student at a US Uni. This was a couple of years after 9/11 and I think the long hand of the NSA might have decided that former foreign students with satellite imagery didn't need to have it anymore. Come to think of it, my imagery covered a number of military installations in high resolution. No, its pretty unlikely that two HDDs fail at exactly the same time, but nothing is impossible for the NSA.





8 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132530 23-Nov-2018 11:01
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For my 3rd year project, I was writing client/server code.  A simple typo on an rm command ( `* ~` rather than `*~` told it to delete all files in the current directory and my home directory, rather than just backup files in the current directory) was not too bad, I thought, because I had a backup from less than 24 hours earlier.




I got home that night, powered up my home machine, and got the dreadful clicking noise.  I'd had a HDD failure at the same time.




So, 1 week before my 3rd year project was due to be handed in, I had to go back to a backup from about 6 weeks earlier.

10 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132531 23-Nov-2018 11:01
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When I first started doing printed circuit board design on a PC a 10Mb HDD was fairly standard. I used AutoCAD with macros, but it was too big to load onto the standard HDD so every time I needed to use AutoCAD I had to shut down the PC and physically swap out the drive, then swap again when I had finished.

6 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132567 23-Nov-2018 11:32
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Not that scary of a story, but it happened last week and that's as far as I can remember my life. :)




I got this new and shiny 3TB WD RED HDD for my home NAS. I was very excited because my 2x2TB SHR was already at 98% usage.


The 2 twin drives are where I keep the local copy of my backups, photos and other stuff I care about. But alongside them I've got some VHS backups, which I do not care that much about as I've got the originals somewhere in the attic.


I'd like to keep the important stuff on its own, safe and redundant. So I got a new drive for the VHS stuff. 


Got it at work from MightyApe, went home, installed it, went on the DSM web management interface and ....




It was still processing the drive. 


But after a few minutes, a whole lot of bad sector warnings started popping up. :( 


It took hours for check parity, consistency and whatever else it was doing.


Early the next morning, I had a system log with 1k bad sector entries. 






Got in touch with MA, and after a week I've got a replacement HDD.


Now the VHS stuff is on the new HDD with plenty of space to grow (I've still got a motherload of VHS to backup).


And the important stuff is on its own, sound and safe. And redundant. ;)

8 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132784 23-Nov-2018 16:01
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Look what arrived yesterday from the PH sale ...
Will be for sale if I win!
Click to see full size

50 posts


  # 2132786 23-Nov-2018 16:03
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Back a 'few' years ago I had a shiny new Pentium, 100Mhz, and I had splashed out on two drives, a Quantum Fireball and for backups a Quantum Bigfoot.  All went well for a few weeks while I filled the drives but then the BigFoot drive started to make some strange noises and would disappear or become inaccessible.  No worries, just reboot and copy everything off it till it failed and reboot again.  Unplugged the Fireball so the BigFoot was isolated (same IDE ribbon cable), formatted the BigFoot to confirm bad sectors etc but the drive it seemed ok... Powered off, plugged in the Fireball was greeted with rattles and nothing else from the Fireball, completely dead.  That was the drive that was failing and causing IO errors making the BigFoot play up.  So I had wiped by backup drive and lost everything to the failing one.


Been more careful with separating out drives and backups since then, restoring everything from 1.44Mb FDDs was not fun.








7 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132805 23-Nov-2018 16:46
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My first computer (1980ish) was a kit, the UK101 a clone of the Ohio Scientific Superboard with a 6502 running at 1 Mhz and oiginally with 4k ram, plus some ROM to handle the BASIC and (originally) there was a machine code monitor on a 2K ROM. We drove to London to buy the thing, about $400 at the time, along with a case and another 4k ram and my dad and I spent the next few nights (seemed like weeks!) soldering the whole thing and assembling the various bits and pieces. After evenings of inhaling rosin and staring at the instructions we had the thing built. The machine had a "new improved" machine code monitor that was on EPROM, as a result there were a couple of tracks to cut and remake on the PCB in order to accommodate the EPROM. Well, the thing would not boot, run or anything and so we scratched our heads and started testing all of the soldering on the board.......which was fun (not). All the soldering was fine and there were no obvious faults with the discrete components. Imagine the frustration of a 14 year old trying to get his hands on a new toy which had been bought from hard work and saving!


We called the suppliers and asked them what could be at fault and they said it might be a problem with one of the ICs, we asked about the EPROM and they said "no way it's not that, they are all OK".


Well, luckily (or not) my cousin had also built one of these and it was working fine. His did not have the EPROM "upgrade" so we took our machine over and swapped every IC on the board into his and they worked - all 70 or so of them..... We couldn't swap the EPROM without cutting the tracks on his board, so we un-made the mod on my board and lo and behold, the EPROM memory that was supposed to be fine was the problem. A new EPROM was supplied and the machine was ready to problem no. 1.


The actual storage of data and programs was on an ordinary compact cassette and the issue I had with this was that my choice of recording and playback tape player was a Sharp radio cassette - which was fine, with the programs being loaded at 300 baud, or 600 baud with a snazzy hardware mod (at toggle switch and 2 wires soldered to the board!). Anyway the problem that took me months to figure out (and a lot of lost data on cassette tapes) was that whenever you pressed <play> on the radio cassette it switched on the erase head which left a very short blip on the tape - this happened even if the tape had the record defeat tabs knocked out. Now this was not too bad for BASIC code but it utterly screwed any machine code programmes. So I spent many a long night editing the programs and cursing that my space invaders (in machine code) loaded about 3 times before I had to throw the game in the bin. Pocket money did not stretch to a new copy and I could only get to play it when we visited my cousin...... those 8k programs took about 10 minutes to load as well.


Click to see full size


Click to see full size

19 posts


  # 2132875 23-Nov-2018 18:17
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My worst data loss was back in the mid-late 90's.  I had a Quantum Bigfoot 1.2gb hard drive which I had full of documents.  While it was big for the time, it was still easy to fill up.  So, as one did back then, I used DriveSpace to compress the drive, which worked great for about a month.  However, I am not entirely sure what went wrong, but one morning Windows told me I had to do a ScanDisk, and that was the end of that.  All data GONE!!  Something crapped itself, and took all my data with it.  And lets face it.. at the price of backup tapes, backups were overrated... well.. they were until I didn't have my data anymore lol.  Ahh.. the good old days....

4 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132915 23-Nov-2018 19:19
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Biggest lesson I ever had on the fagility of platter hard drives and the need for more than one form of backup, comes from my time as a laptop repair technician.


We received a machine in with the complaint that it powered up to unable to find boot disk.


The owner was at pains to explain that his only copy of a manuscript he had been working on for 5 years was on this drive. And he would pay well to have it recovered.


Swapped out the drive with a known good one and the machine booted up OK, then went to mount the drive into a caddy to start running data recovery utilities when I noticed that when the drive was moved around it sounded like a macarena. Shh shhh shhhh.


After the owner of the laptop repair company had consoled a distraught client we disassembed the drive. Instead of the mirror finish platter all we saw was basically sand. It seems that the platter had simply disintegrated. It was the only case I ever saw of this in the whole time I was working there.


So I encourage people to have offsite, online storage for their essential, can't live without data as well as external portable HDDs for all the info they wouls ever like to have if their infrastructure disappeared one day.



1 post

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132926 23-Nov-2018 19:53
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The 14th of December is my 75th birthday.(I know!)The magic of this correlation of dates did not escape me.


You will easily understand that I have had so many neurons dropping of the brain circuits that without an adequate secure and competent backup system for the data on my failing laptop - my family may never get to learn of my deep dark past, our family history, photos of our ancestors, or listen to the music from my my amazing rock band days.


You know what you need to do, possums


T.I.A xxxooo

628 posts

Ultimate Geek
Inactive user

  # 2132953 23-Nov-2018 20:48
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My horror story. Bought a Dell 32GB SSD laptop from PBTech's Black Friday sale last week. Wasn't even enough space on the device to install the Windows updates. Thankfully I can install Xubuntu, which only used 4 GB of space.

13 posts


# 2132958 23-Nov-2018 20:52
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2 x stories about storage that I can remember:




1. When I was at uni I composed my assignment on my computer at home, and had to transport it via floppy disk to uni to print and submit it.   This particular day I had let my time get pretty tight and was intending on doing a last minute submission.  I copied the assignment to the floppy, drove furiously to uni, put the floppy disk into the disk drive on the uni computer and huh?   "This disk needs to be formatted" ... the disk had died! OMG.   I don't know how I did it but I managed to drive all the way home, email the document to my hotmail email address, and get back to uni to print and submit exactly 30 seconds before the final deadline!!!!   These where the days when hotmail provided 2mb of storage for emails ... I then realised that I needed to store EVERYTHING import in the "cloud" as a backup!   




2. I've always had a passion for computers and I pulled apart the family computer as a student, and ended up building my own from spare parts I obtained from various sources ... one day I saved up and bought a 6.4gb hard disk (which was absolutely massive!!!) ... I spent hours copying all of my personal photos, music, documents to it ... but being a tinkerer I decided to pull the PC apart while it was still running, and unplug the IDE hard drive and plug it into another IDE slot (while it was still running) ... I heard a crackle pop sound and the hard drive died a horrible death, and all my data went with it ... this was the one time in my life that I actually made myself cry because of my stupidity!!!!  Oops!!!








SSD was the best upgrade I ever did for my PC!  I ended up getting an extra 4 years out of it ... it would be awesome to win this one!


6 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2132979 23-Nov-2018 21:59
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On my very first proper job about 20 years ago I once was copying database information around the storage array...


At 3am I typed at the command line:


cpio -ivcdum source < destination 






...14 hours of tape restores later things were back up and running.  :-/

5 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 2133011 23-Nov-2018 23:26
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Around the year 2000 I was a bit nervous going on holiday for a couple of weeks, leaving a new guy in charge of the server I'd setup to maintain a half dozen computer labs.


I asked the guy who ran all the backups, "You have added this server into the nightly backup system, right?"


"Yep, sure have!"


A week later the new guy calls - "I decided to resize the partitions on your server disk.  It's destroyed now."


Backup guy "Oh, you meant THAT server! No, I didn't include that one."


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