Teetering Uncomfortably

My backup harddrive has rather unceremoniously decided to crap out on me.

For the last two years my entire computing solution has been a single hand-me-down laptop. This is not the most secure way to store one's data. Moreover, my laptop has a pathetically small 30 gigabyte harddrive. So last Summer I bought a 50 gigabyte external harddrive, the largest I could afford at the time. I use the external harddrive for two essential purposes: First, it backs up important files that are too large to save via e-mails to my gmail account. Second, it serves as primary storage for large amounts of data of secondary importance (things like my music collection and various videos that had previously stuffed my laptop's hard drive until MP3s were leaking out at the seams).

My laptop has never had its harddrive formatted and Windows re-installed from the ground up. After three years, winrot has left the thing so slow that it takes fully a minute to launch my web browser and three minutes to load Outlook Express. It takes five minutes for it to get from the user log-in screen when I come out of stand-by mode to a point where I can actually issue commands that it will obey. It is, in short, in dreadful need of a bootstrapping.

"No problem," I thought to myself, "I shall simply scour my harddrive for all remaining essential files, move them temporarily to my external harddrive, then spend the weekend re-formating the laptop, re-installing windows, and restoring my files to their former state on my laptop." Mais non! The external harddrive has decided it does not care to accept my files any longer!

It's a bit curious; I can read data off the external, I can copy files from it, and I've encountered nothing on it that seems damaged or corrupted (though I haven't checked every single file on it). Yet when I try to copy files to it I receive a Cyclic Redundancy Check error, which, according to the internet, is a sign that either a harddrive/cd/other data medium has catastrophically failed or is on the precipice of catastrophic failure. Poop.

Needless to say, the Precipice of Catastrophic Failure is not a place I like to frequent. I generally prefer, when at the height of my daring, to venture no further than the Bluff of Irksome Setbacks. I am left, again, with only my laptop to rely upon for data storage, which naturally worries me. I have, once again, backed up those essential files that can be backed up through gmail. I've ordered a new desktop computer (not out of paranoia from this incident; I ordered it somewhat before these latest annoyances played out) and once it arrives I should have a little more breathing room. If the external should crap out entirely it won't be the end of the world; the videos are non-essential, the music is all on my iPod and I have some programs that will allow me to treat the iPod as a harddrive and remove the files I need from it, and most of the essential files are also stored on the laptop, so hopefully they won't both die at once before the new computer arrives. It will be annoying, though, not to be able to use my external harddrive as a conduit through which to channel the files I want to transfer to the new computer.

Searching the internet has yielded no easy solution to the external harddrive's breakdown. I've used Windows's check disk utility to search it for bad sectors and it came up empty; when I try to repair the file system, though, it fails within 30 seconds. The only solution the internet has offered up is a piece of professional harddrive repair software that costs $90 for first time users. I'd prefer not to lose my data, but I don't $90 prefer it. Does anyone know of any cheap/free disk repair utilities I might throw at the problem?

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on April 1, 2007 1:14 PM.

They Should Put Warning Labels on That Stuff was the previous entry in this blog.

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