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June 20, 2021, 09:51:01 PM

Sick Computer

Started by Thorin, February 18, 2011, 07:22:48 PM

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Thorin

A couple of years ago, I bought two identical Dells with the hope that my family would be able to switch between them seamlessly.  This has mostly worked, but we still found that the adults favoured one or the other computer.  Then we started running low on space on the computer that all the cameras, iPods, and iPhones were always connected to.  So I bought a couple of 1TB drives, thinking that I'd either set them up to mirror or set up an automatic backup of important files from one to the other.

Fast-forward nine or ten months, and the first TB drive is about 70% full while the other TB drive is sitting in the case unused.  That's right, the techie guy didn't bother setting up any kind of data protection scheme, whether mirroring or backup.  Even though there was an identical drive specifically bought for this sitting in the machine.  Go ahead and laugh now.

Over the last couple of months, the kids and the wife kept saying the computer with the TB drive in it was slow.  I attributed this to everything that was installed - after all, it had hogs like iTunes installed, it was streaming to the Xbox (using TVersity for that), it had all the document folders located on it...  Then one day last week the computer wouldn't start.  WTF?!  So I finally started looking at it, and got a "disk read error".  Yeah, lots of results on Google about that.  One of the links I found pointed me to a tool called TestDisk which appears to have an active forum where people can get help recovering data from apparently wrecked disks.

But I have the weirdest symptom - whatever computer the drive is hooked up to gets extremely slow doing anything.  I've tried it in two different computers, both of which are regular speed when this drive is not connected.  The problem, of course, is that starting the computer takes 40 minutes (even though I've got a different drive to start from, and the bad drive is hooked up on the secondary SATA channel).  So the next step in trying to recover data from this drive will be buying a SATA enclosure so that I can keep the drive disconnected until the computer has finished booting, and then connect it and try to fix it.

If I can't recover it, I've lost about ten months worth of pictures, a crap load of good shows that I torrented, and whatever personal files might have been created in the last ten months (resumes, budgets, D&D characters, that kind of stuff).  Here's hoping TestDisk does what it advertises and fixes Boot Sectors, Master Boot Records, and Master File Tables.
Prayin' for a 20!

gcc thorin.c -pedantic -o Thorin
compile successful

Melbosa

Good luck bud.  If you want some other suggestions and trade tricks let us know.  Every one of us has dealt with this thing over the years I'm sure.  Practically deal with a different type of hd failure at work once per month.
Sometimes I Think Before I Type... Sometimes!

Lazybones

Data recovery is always a very slow process between faulting equipment an the process of actually reading the disk.

Getting an external enclosure with both a sata and a USB interface might be a good idea sometimes you luck out with one working better than the other although sata is the faster one.

Try making an ultimate boot cd for win it has several free recovery tools, other than that I will lookup the tool I used a work last, it wasn't free but worked on a very tricky recovery for me, I just don't remember the name at the moment.

Mr. Analog

If the HDD is slow when plugged directly into the SATA controller try connecting it through a SATA->USB 2.0 HDD dock and see what happens, I doubt much (I'm pretty sure this drive is bagged and tagged already) but it can't hurt...

Another thing you might want to try is mounting it with Ubuntu, I once had a drive that Windows would no longer mount but Ubuntu could (still not sure why exactly, but I was able to transfer the files I needed)... you can download the ISO and run Ubuntu off the disc without installing it.

Like I say though it's fairly likely that this disk is at end of life, lots of read/write activity and the extreme slowness... that drive is not long for this world I reckon (maybe you're sitting too close to Trevor and now you have the HDD curse).

I recommend trying to figure out if there was some software causing a lot of disk access (like constant scans, heavy IO, etc) anything that might cause your disk to thrash (check your other drives for fragmentation, that might be the clue right there).

Moving forward I highly recommend a device like a drobo if you want to set up an easy to maintain external drive array, I have one with 4 1TB drives that function as two 2TB logical drives. If any one drive fails I can literally pop it out and plug in a new one of any size and the drobo will balance itself accordingly. Drobo isn't cheap though, at least $400 if I remember (not including drives) but it's very convenient and easy to use (check MemEx for prices, I know they carry 'em).

Anyway, don't feel too bad, it never hurts to have a spare HDD kicking around, I know the one I had in storage came in handy when my SSD started flaking out, and I won it at Fraga back in August '10. Also you don't ever expect a new HDD to fail after such a short time either.
By Grabthar's Hammer

Thorin

Thanks for the words of concern :)  I'm kicking myself for not having set up some kind of data redundancy.

"ultimate" boot cd - where would I find that?

Drobo - you're right, they're expensive.  How do you know a drive's gone bad, though?  Does it tell you, or do you have to discover it?

Prayin' for a 20!

gcc thorin.c -pedantic -o Thorin
compile successful

Mr. Analog

donk! http://www.ubcd4win.com/

How do you know that a drive is kaput in the Drobo? Two indicators!

1. The software tells you
2. The indicator light next to the offending drive changes

Just pop the sucker out and slide in a new one. Done and done.
By Grabthar's Hammer

Tom

So is it just that one drive thats causing any computer to get slow? Do you have the windows file search indexing going on? If so, try turning that off and see what happens.

But definitely try and copy everything off that disk over to the spare. When you get things sorted, you should have the one computer mirror that drive over to the other with some backup utility (Not sure what you'd use in windows for that, but in linux I'd setup a cron job to rsync the two drives).
<Zapata Prime> I smell Stanley... And he smells good!!!

Mr. Analog

You can set up a Scheduled Task for drive backup, not quite the same as cron but... it's Windows so meh
By Grabthar's Hammer

Tom

Quote from: Mr. Analog on February 19, 2011, 01:31:52 PM
You can set up a Scheduled Task for drive backup, not quite the same as cron but... it's Windows so meh
And most backup utilities probably come with some kind of schedule feature. In the end its the same thing really.
<Zapata Prime> I smell Stanley... And he smells good!!!

Melbosa

Off Topic, but related to discussion:

Quote from: Thorin on February 19, 2011, 08:45:35 AM
Thanks for the words of concern :)  I'm kicking myself for not having set up some kind of data redundancy.

"ultimate" boot cd - where would I find that?

Drobo - you're right, they're expensive.  How do you know a drive's gone bad, though?  Does it tell you, or do you have to discover it?




Even my DLink 2 Drive NAS will email you if one of the drives is failing (and lights change), and it isn't that expensive. Drobos are nice, really, but you don't have to spend that money if all you want is a storage device. If you want the extras, there is Drobo, Synology, Buffalo, Seagate, etc...

Really it is all about having the redundancy in the first place and then having it monitored in some way.  If that is all you want, then just look for a NAS that does it.

Backup software for PC, well there are many free ones you can consume, and then there is the other way as well.  Or as Mr. A said, you can use a scheduled task, although Windows 7 has limited how the backups work in windows by default a bit (not as selective as it used to be), so when using a scheduled task, you might have to consider some scripting.  This is only if you are looking for a backup solution for your data (I don't know your needs).

Some people are just fine with a redundant solution, which isn't a backup (I think we have beat this discusssion to death before). Most people I know don't really have a "backup solution" in the home, even though they know that redundancy isn't a backup.

On topic
Ultimate Boot CD is nice.  Hiren Boot CD is also a great tool for Hardware and Software troubleshooting.  We've used it on complex SCSI systems at work as well as workstations.

Another trick is the disk in a bag, wrapped in paper-towel, and in freezer for 20 minutes.  This typically helps with drives in your situation, as it could be a heat related issue for the slow downs.  But this is a last resort solution, as it can sometimes destroy as much as help.
Sometimes I Think Before I Type... Sometimes!

Tom

Quote from: Melbosa on February 19, 2011, 03:00:33 PM
Off Topic, but related to discussion:

Some people are just fine with a redundant solution, which isn't a backup (I think we have beat this discusssion to death before). Most people I know don't really have a "backup solution" in the home, even though they know that redundancy isn't a backup.


I have a double/tripple redundant setup. first rsnapshot (using rsync) backs up all important data (from all machines) to my big data share, which is raid5, and then at some point that backup is then rsync'ed up to my dedicated server.

Quote from: Melbosa on February 19, 2011, 03:00:33 PM
On topic
Ultimate Boot CD is nice.  Hiren Boot CD is also a great tool for Hardware and Software troubleshooting.  We've used it on complex SCSI systems at work as well as workstations.

Another trick is the disk in a bag, wrapped in paper-towel, and in freezer for 20 minutes.  This typically helps with drives in your situation, as it could be a heat related issue for the slow downs.  But this is a last resort solution, as it can sometimes destroy as much as help.
I suppose it could be heat, but hard drives are rather good about high temperatures. They are more likely to fail due to cold temperatures, or rapidly changing temperatures.
<Zapata Prime> I smell Stanley... And he smells good!!!

Thorin

Quote from: Melbosa on February 19, 2011, 03:00:33 PM
Even my DLink 2 Drive NAS will email you if one of the drives is failing (and lights change), and it isn't that expensive.


DNS-323?
Prayin' for a 20!

gcc thorin.c -pedantic -o Thorin
compile successful

Lazybones

If you want to drop names on NAS I would suggest a Qnap or Synology (ncix stocks both), mostly for two reasons: a) they make higher end units as well as SOHO and b) both have huge hacking communities that allow you to extend there functionality greatly.

Melbosa

Quote from: Thorin on February 19, 2011, 06:53:57 PM
Quote from: Melbosa on February 19, 2011, 03:00:33 PM
Even my DLink 2 Drive NAS will email you if one of the drives is failing (and lights change), and it isn't that expensive.


DNS-323?


Yep
Sometimes I Think Before I Type... Sometimes!

Melbosa

Quote from: Tom on February 19, 2011, 03:08:58 PM
I suppose it could be heat, but hard drives are rather good about high temperatures. They are more likely to fail due to cold temperatures, or rapidly changing temperatures.

It usually isn't that the whole drive is overheating but one of the chips pathways is degraded, and cooling it gives you a chance to get said chip to operate better.  Seen this many times with "modern" hard drives, especially with home computers, as most people aren't aware that SATA/IDE Consumer drives aren't rated for 24/7 use (and they leave their computer on all the time).
Sometimes I Think Before I Type... Sometimes!