Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kamikaze Computing

I am  s l o w l y  climbing out of the hole I threw myself into after my hard drive crashed earlier this month. Thanks to repeated warnings about backing up data I lost nothing but almost two weeks of my time.  I have an old iMac desktop and just installed the automated backup program Time Machine in December (a huge thanks to Shelley whose post prodded me into action). All my data and media files are backed up online through Mozy. So I knew it was all there - just not here where I needed it.

I am a self taught, give it a go kind of gal when it comes to computers. It has served me well, but there are times I would have benefited from a better teacher. This was one of them. My Mac & I did many things well.  I repaired the disk after a few failed attempts and got the Time Machine backup reinstalled. It is an amazing program - a couple hours and everything was just as it was before the crash. Then I installed the updates (cue the shark music) waiting. This is where things fell apart the first time. And the second time. I still don't know if it's the ITunes, AirPort, Remote desktop Client, or OS X update that is killing me, but my days of installing all "recommended" updates  in bulk are over. Another day and I had things back up. Then I got cocky (the kindest adjective that comes to mind).

My photographs (49.5 GB worth) are on the 1 TB external drive that I use for the Time Machine backups. I had no local backups for most of them, only the online backup. I decided to partition the drive so the backups would only take up half the space. Great idea in theory. I read, reread and reread the directions. It seemed clear that you could partition a drive with data on it. It still seems to read that way. Whatever I did, however, erased all the data on the drive. I had two lovely, empty external drives. My dogs heard an entirely new vocabulary that day. My husband hunkered down and stayed out of the way other than keeping me supplied with chocolate, Cheez-its and the beverages of my choice.

At some point I need to figure out what I did wrong (beyond getting out of bed). But my first priority has been restoring the photographs. I quickly backed up the main computer through Time Machine and the logged onto Mozy to download the photos.That was more than a week ago. Between our buggy and medium speed internet connection and their eponymous restore service it  has taken FOREVER to restore the photos. I'm almost there - fewer than 4 GB to go. Then I'll have to do another full backup which will slow the system down for days.

So was this a teachable moment for me?  Oh yeah. Next time I will stop being so cheap and stubborn and buy the damn dvds. It may be possible to restore large amounts of data via download, but it's not worth it. Next time I'll have a local back up of any files residing on a disk I'm working on (new external drive is on the shopping list this week).

I'm still operating off a netbook with no access yet to my database beyond what I have online. I need to figure out a way to make this more useful. I bought it with Linux installed and ended up installing Windows so I could more easily use familiar software.  I have to rethink this. In theory it has the ability to run programs off jump drives but I haven't had much success.

On the positive side of the ledger I have made progress clearing space for a central sorting and storage spot for all the family papers I am determined to cull through this year. Another day moving some furniture around and I'll have a spot with a door that I can leave set up while I work for the next few months. And the RV show is in town. My favorite solution to is to simply leave all this, hop in some rolling home and head off to see the world. Look out Carol, we may be joining you!


  1. Come on down, today we are in Tombstone, and I believe the little boys will be enjoying a gun fight! LOL

    This sounds painful, so sorry.

    I have my photos on my external hard drive. Not enough room in Tana for that many DVD's! LOL

    Enjoy the RV show!

  2. second reminder today that i need to back up my information. i think i better pay attention before i'm sorry. thank you!

  3. I'm so sorry you had such trouble. Not sure exactly what hardware you have, maybe it's possible, but I have never partitioned an existing drive - - just never had the nerve. Sorry you didn't have an IT professional handy, I'm back now and available for consults! Call the work number if it's during working hours -- my cell doesn't work below ground.

  4. Oh dear - but just as well you had heeded the prods about backing up. I'm off to do a backup right now. Thanks for the reminder! Hope you're all fixed now. Jo


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