The Dead Disk Blues are back

My computer had been acting a bit funky for the last week or so: it was freezing up occasionally, then carrying on after about twenty seconds, and a couple of mornings I got up to find it just frozen and died completely overnight. (I keep it on 24/7.) I thought it might have been because I’d been installing shedloads of new software recently (there was a freeze immediately after installing iTunes 4.9, and the matching iPod updater), and that it was time for a periodic Windows reinstall. In fact, it is almost exactly a year since I last did a nuke & pave. (I found the date with the “systeminfo.exe” command line utility–a nice little utility I hadn’t known about before.)

But no, it was the hard disk that was dead, instead. This morning the puter was dead again, and wouldn’t respond to a reboot. “A disk read error occurred,” it whined. “Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to reboot. Please? Oh please, huh?”


On the bright side, the disk that failed was my system disk, which contains my Windows install, Program Files directory, and my Documents and Settings folder. Unlike the last time this happened, all of our photos are safe on a separate, secondary hard disk, so I’m not worried about those. All my code is sitting in SourceSafe on a different disk, too. The last full backup of my Documents and Settings is a couple of months old, but most of the stuff I do and write these days is distributed over the rest of the internet anyway, so I’m not too worried. The only thing likely to cause some pain is the potential loss of a few months of email, but seeing as I never reply to my email anyway, at least no-one else is going to notice.

(And my iTunes library xml file…hmmm…)

Still, I’m hopeful that I can recover at least some of the data from the drive. The BIOS recognizes it, so I’m hoping that it’s just unbootable, rather than completely shagged. I’ve bought a shiny new 160GB SATA drive to replace it, but I haven’t worked up the energy to go through the whole install process yet. That’ll be my fun task for Tuesday evening!


2 Replies to “The Dead Disk Blues are back”

  1. Lucky you Martin. Mine wasn’t even glanced at by the BIOS. Totally dead.

    DVD Backups are the way to go for me now. Like you though I had a flash of inspiration when I copied all my photos, etc to a second hard drive.

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