May 24, 2005


My trusty notebook goes with me everywhere I go. It contains my life. It's where I do 90% of my work; I even have a special backpack with built in power supply, CD holders, computer accessories etc. which is my traveling office.

Then, last week, the hard drive in my notebook crashed.

My last backup was in Baghdad. I just got word from the data recovery place that the actual platters are damaged so there will be no recovery. Then, I realized two more things:

1) My late February backup in Baghdad did include most of my pictures (good news) but the .pst file on that disc is corrupt (bad news). The .pst file has all my calendar and contacts and e-mail (at least as recently as Feb). The last backup before that was before I left ... in December.
2) The batt's on my i-paq went dead while moving out of the Tahoe house two weeks ago. The volatile memory was lost, so I don't even have my recent sync. of my calendar and contacts.

At least I keep most of my work stuff on the fileserver at work (with a RAID array) but I still lost some great stuff including 6 months of e-mail and some great pictures. The interruption has been massive as well; being tied to a desktop with limited data on it is not an efficient way to get things done. Now I have the joy of rebuilding my digital life.

So, if I met you in the last 6 months ... I no longer have your contact information. If you sent me an e-mail in the last week or two then there's a good chance I didn't get to it yet and I never will. Life sucks.

I was delaying a new backup until we got a new fileserver online at the office. That project got pushed out due to other priorities so my backup got pushed out with it. Lesson learned.

Regular backups are your best defense, other things you can try if your HD dies:
1) put your HD in the freezer, I'm not kidding. There's lots of stories on the forums online of this working and for some drive failures I could certainly believe it to be true.
2) Data recovery places can at least tell you what the damage was and whether or not it is recoverable at any price. was recommended to me by a friend, they did well by me. Though the data was unrecoverable due to physical damage to the platter, at least the investigation was free (details below).

Learn from me, backup your stuff now.

> Unfortunetly our team was unable to recover the data you requested.
> Reason: Dedicated Track Damage .
> Cause: Platter Damage. must have fallen, actuator scratched the platter.
> Source: Magnetic material on platter unreadable on track.

Posted by rick at May 24, 2005 12:40 PM