O.T. and a it long: Bad luck! Definitively, bad luck... (sob)


Hi, all;

this is more a warnning than just a bad luck story.

I keep four of my computers running with two hard disks, one with system files and programs, the other with ordinary data. All of these four computers compose my home network, so if some data is actually priority data, I keep it in a CD/DVD and in more than one data HD (I had some CD ROM disks unable to be read, so...).

There is a fifth computer, the one I use to access internet, and it is the only exception to the rule: it has one single 6GB hard disk. Yeap, an old device, instead working. All I need to be saved after being downloaded is copied somewhere else in the other computers, but the main mail data (income and outgoing messages) plus some not priority data are kept in the same hard disk. In some circumstances, recently downloaded priority data is kept in this computer for no longer than a day, mainly when the other computers are turnned off at the moment the download happens.

Yesterday (feb. 14th), it took me a few hours to download the HP48G AUG (telephone line, 56Kbits tops...), and as it was late in the night, I simply turned the computer off and let the copy of the HP48G AUG file to be made today morning (feb, 15th). What a surprise seeing the scandisk plane cyan and yellow image after turning the computer on today morning... and automatically running surface scan!

When the surface scan was closed to the last 4% of the surface area, two bad-cluster indication arose and all of the last 15 areas made the surface scan to slow down considerably. Then I heard some different noises and felt worried about what was going on. When the first of the last four small squares was being scanned, the hard disk shriek loudly and then sounded as if something was being scratched. I turnned the computer off, waited for a few seconds and turnned it on again. The noise was then louder, and the harddisk was no longer being detected.

I removed it and tried another computer: same results. I tried some soft taps with the palm of the hand and with a small rubber hammer and did not get better results. Yeap, I know, it is neither scientific nor technical, just a desperate tryout... Yes, you can blame me. Preferably with a small rubber hammer...

Well, let's exhume the corpse and see if we find something. Believe me, I have neve seen something like that: one of the heads was simply unstick from its arm, and part of the surface of the corresponding disk had scratches all over. Total loss.

The bigger losses were definitely the e-mail contents, some kept since October 2004. Most of the other data, unfortunately not all, had a copy somewhere. And, of course, the HP48G AUG file, that took me some hours to download, and was not backed up.

I know that the head being unstick is a hard-to-happen misfortune, but if I had an additional data-only hard disk, I´d not loose these files and info. After that, when preparing my new hard disks for this computer, I´ll take some time to periodically make a copy of the e-mail files and folders...

This did not happen to a friend of a friend of mine. This happened with me. And I hope it helps you, guys, to consider backing up data more frequently.


Luiz (Brazil)


I go by the rule that all hard disks will fail, it's just a question of timing. I backup everything on writable DVD disks.


Give it a shot, maybe (*maybe*) this could save your day too...



Hi Luiz,

in Germany we say:
Wer zuletzt lacht, hat ein Backup gemacht

(Who has the last laugh, has made a backup)!
Last Weekend, I connected a casio docking station (Casio FA-7) to the RS-232 of my notebook. I boted windows an was about to start a terminal program when the computer switched off. And it refused to switch on!
I often hope that things regenerate themselves when left alone, so I waited for the next day to try again. I usually make backups of the important things, but at night, I remembered many things I hadn't considered for important, but now seemed to be important for me.
The next day, the computer still didn't switch on, and I opened it. By the smell I could locate one bad chip, and looked for the datasheet on the internet. It was some voltage converter for RS232, so I decided to ampute (remove) it. After that, the computer booted, but the display stayed black. It was the background light of the display not working. I used a lamp to see the contents of the display, and managed to copy the data to a USB-stick.

Apparently the casio docking station had generated a voltage peak and therefore destroyed my PC.

Well, bad luck, but now I have more spare time!

Have a nice day! Klaus


You would be a good man to have on an expedition, Klaus.


Sorry to hear the bad news ...

I am backuping everything on:

(*) Two different hard disks on my server (every day)

(*) Workstation connected to server (every 2-3 days)

(*) My notebook (every 2-3 days or when I need it)

(*) Two different 750MB ZIP drives (odd/even days)

So, this is 6 copies of everything I have ever done :-)

I am periodically saving everything to CD/DVD, too.

Best regards.


Have a look at dd_rescue (from a linux boot cd). It once saved me a lot of trouble. Great tool!



On all my computers other than my laptop, I use either RAID 1 (mirroring, 2x drives) or RAID 5 (distributed parity, 1 extra drive). This obviously costs more, but then I won't lose data from a single drive failure.

But even with RAID, it is STILL necessary to make backups, because RAI doesn't protect against user stupidity, and I've demonstrated that occasionally I can do very stupid things.



I mirror my hard drive onto my office hard drive--by physically carrying it in and slaving it every so often.

I used to mirror onto a second on-board hard drive that I kept plugged in, but then I had a power supply blow up in the computer, and it fried my secondary hard drive! I will buy another onboard mirror though; I just won't leave it powered up.

My office work files are backed up to tape, and also archived to CD.

I learned, from those early days on Timex Sinclair, Atari, Commodore, 8088 with 5" floppies, that memory is friable...

I really do not trust any "archiving" that is not refreshed (re-written) to new media every year or so.

But I plugged in my 486 the other day--hasn't been run in 3 years, made in 1994-5? and it still works! All the old files are there!

Interestingly, I had let my Sony digital8 video get pretty old before making analog backups--6 years for the oldest. They all read without any failures. I was getting worried, which is why I made my analog backups (you know--vhs may be low grade, but at least it merely goes snowy with age, rather than blank).


Did you try to leave the HD some hours in the freezer inside a plastic protective case? I read it in Info Magazine.

Some says it works and you will have some time to back up the data.

Well hope it is not a mech problem.



Er... why would THAT work??

Is the temperature low enough to prevent change in the spin orientations of the magnetic domains???


Don't ask me how or why.

Some people tried it and said it worked. I have a magazine edition in portuguese(Info) that explains how to do that and some take it seriously and got the hd back having the necessary time to back up the data to another media.

Could be magic? I really don't know.




... maybe in a young girls' heart, but not in calculators nor photon torpedoes.


Marx Pio wrote:
> Did you try to leave the HD some hours in the freezer inside a plastic protective case?

This will work if there is a defective IC that overheats and fails. However the treatment does appear to be a extreme because it will subject the drive mechanism to thermal shock when you power it on after you take it out of the freezer.

Many years ago I had a drive that would work a little bit 10-20 minutes and then go off-line. I found that if I raised the PCB to a 30 degree angle (so that the wires at one end would remain in place) and use a fan to blow cool air in the gap, it would allow the drive to continue working. I operated in that configuration for about 18 months at which point I replaced the drive (it did not fail again).

More recently I had the same problem with a Seagate SCSI drive and I managed to extract all data from it by operating it with an ice pack placed on its PCB (ziplock bag filled with ice cubes placed in another ziplock bag).

I then left the drive on my desk for a month or two and when I came back to do the paperwork to get it replaced under warrantee I found out that now the drive worked just fine [1].


[1] Seagate has a diagnostic CDROM that you boot from and it runs diagnostics on the disk drive. The drive passed the full diagnostic a couple of time. I then installed it inside a PC (so that it would operate on the same temperature conditions as when it failed in the first place) and let it run the diagnostics for a week. It still passed them all without any errors.

@#^%$#%^@$# I do not trust the drive because it failed me once and it does not have the decency to die on me so that I can have it replaced :-(


@#^%$#%^@$# I do not trust the drive because it failed me once and it does not have the decency to die on me so that I can have it replaced :-(

It would be a shame if something bad happened to the drive while it was sitting on the shelf. The world's a very dangerous place. :-)

Intermittent parts are a major headache. Especially when the repair depot can't find a problem and restocks it as a good replacement part.

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