Hard Drive Heart Attacks

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[ 2004-September-11 13:21 ]

I had an, uh ..., "interesting" experience last week. I opened my aging PowerBook, typed in my password and pressed enter. Instead of presenting me with my desktop, it just sat there, doing nothing. "Uh oh," I thought to myself, "this has never happened before." So I closed my laptop, hoping to put it back to sleep, but it stayed on. I opened it again to find that it had hung, the mouse pointer frozen in place. I rebooted it, and I was presented with the dreaded flashing question mark. After cursing loudly, I booted with a Debian Linux boot CD and discovered that my Mac no longer could find the hard drive.

I assumed the worst: that my hard drive was history. After mourning it for a while, I realized that I didn't lose anything too important: I had done a full backup just a week and a half before. Let this be a lesson to all of you: go buy that DVD burner, external hard drive, or something, and back your data up. A failure like this is just a matter of time.

Once I calmed down, I began to think about repairing my computer. The first thing I did was take my Mac to an Apple store. They concluded the hard drive was probably dead, but they didn't have any replacements in stock. Because I was on vacation and leaving soon, I took my laptop home. When I got back a week later, I took my drive out of my laptop with the help of Apple's Do-It-Yourself Repairs and Upgrade directions, and placed it in another computer. To my astonishment, it worked! My heart pounded as I realized that maybe I didn't lose my data. Next, I took the hard drive from another laptop and placed it in my Mac. That worked as well! So it appeared that nothing was wrong with my laptop. Finally, I replaced my original drive in my PowerBook, crossed my fingers and pressed the power button. It booted up immediately, as if nothing had ever happened.

I can still hardly believe that my computer is working. However, I am now completely paranoid and I do not trust it one bit. I'm in the middle of beefing up my backup strategy, which I will write about whien I get a chance. It is great to be back.