A Sad Tale Involving File Storage on External Hard Drives

Dear All

I thought it may be useful to pass on the following experience that could have been catastrophic.

But first a bit of initial background information may be useful.

When I started taking digital images I used to store them on the PC and never really put too much thought to backing them up. However after a bit of research spurred on by the fact that, as one IT person stated, HARD DRIVES DON’T LAST FOREVER, I decided it would be a good idea to back up my images. Therefore, going back 4 years now, I used to backup all my images onto DVD’s. However I found this quite laborious to the point that the aggravation meant I didn’t get round to doing the backup as frequently as I should. So, 2 years ago, I decided to go the External Hard Drive route and bought two drives, one to store my images on and one for backup and some software that scheduled automatic updates.

Today my main workhorse external drive died :-(……

But luckily I had it 99.9 % backed up to the second drive and only lost a few reasonable images.

The symptoms were – The drive powers up and is recognised by the computer but it then makes 4 loud ‘clonk’ noises as it tries and fails to read the disk, the disk fails to show as a drive on the computer.

My local IT Guru suggested trying different PC USB ports, holding the drive at different angles and trying different PC’s to see if the drive would kick into life (and then transferring the files to a safe place) but none of these have been successful. He suggested the death may be due to the fact it’s a big drive and may have gotten too hot over an extended period as (unlike a PC) they don’t generally have built in cooling fans, they can also tend to be made from the cheapest components. If that was not successful he would try and see what could be salvaged using a specialist programme, but he wasn’t too hopeful. Because I had only lost a few images I decided not to pursue this, but just get a replacement drive and put the backed up images onto it. I did scan the internet and if I wished to retrieve the images it would probably cost £300 minimum ($600, USD), but there are no guarantees.

My lessons for today are therefore:

1. Hard drives don’t last forever, therefore plan for the worst. Have a backup.

2. Don’t get behind in backing up.

3. Make sure the external drives don’t get covered in a nice insulating fury jacket of dust :-).

4. Consider turning external drives of when using the PC but not actually accessing the external drives, therefore reducing unnecessary heating up time.

I hope this tale will help others avert a catastrophy.



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