Hi. Teresa here, still mournful. It looks like I’ve lost all my files since early September, including all the notes, drafts, and research for several writing projects. I’ve also lost the text of various books authors had sent me, and one large graphics project.
It’s funny. Losing data doesn’t feel like the loss of a possession. It feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself.
If any of you have copies of material (including e-mail) which you sent me or I sent you, or of anything else that would have been in my lost files, and you can see your way clear to re-sending it, I’ll be most grateful.
I’ve temporarily put up a tip jar at the top of the left-hand column. If you feel like helping underwrite the data recovery process, the new hard drive, and the backup systerm, that would be just wonderful. No guilt or anything if you can’t or don’t, but book publishing is notoriously a shoestring operation, with all that that implies.
And I promise to back up my files oftener in the future. I’ve had weird luck with that. I’ve had two other major data-loss disasters in my computer-using life, and they were both freak accidents that happened while I was backing up.
All best —
Addendum: Some items from the comment threadFrom Danny O’Brien:
I hope you get enough money to try data recovery. Good data recovery places are marvellous - they have many many tricks to abstract data. Probability is on their side, too. A hardware problem generally only damages a small part of the recorded area, while the rest of the data is preserved in aspic. In many ways, data recovery is a job that attracts the very best in geekery. It requires attention to detail, a forensic spirit, and (because the best stay in contact with the frantic owner every minute of the process) a keen understanding and sympathy for human nature at its most vulnerable. Also, the rewards mental and monetary are fantastic. I bet a lot of people fall in love with their data recoverer. I bet data recoverers have groupies. So my advice is to keep heart, keep your drive safe until you can afford to fix it, reassure yourself that you ahve probably not lost anything, but merely gained a little early personal archaeology. And do try not to run off with the tall dark handsome stranger with the neat set of CD-Rs I see in your future.from Tom Whitmore:
One silly idea suggested to me when mine died (and the people who are actually technically competent can tell me if this makes any sense at all, because it sounds like magic to me) is to put the drive in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then try to boot it again. I did not do this, and I have no idea if it would work or exactly how….from Jordin Kare:
Tom, It’s not silly; I’ve heard of it being done. I’m not sure how it works — I can think of three or four possible effects — but it sometimes does. It’s worth a try on Teresa’s disk, but only because it doesn’t cost anything and won’t hurt if it doesn’t work. (Teresa, if you try it, just be sure no water has condensed on the drive before you apply power to it.) But I’d be very surprised if it helped. The driver board swap is also a reasonable thing to try, but has some risk of doing more damage if you break cables or bend pins. I’d try it if I had a duplicate drive (I’ve done it in the past) but it’s not something to try casually. (I was going to say it was really unlikely to work on a modern drive, but thinking about the noise this particular drive made, it’s just possible the problem is a blown transistor in the head actuator drive, which a board swap would fix.) (Teresa, if you want someone to try it, I can probably find a duplicate drive, and do something useful with it afterward if the swap doesn’t help.)from Erik V. Olson:
Drive freezing works if you have weak connections (the cold shrinks everything — including the space in between the connectors.) It can also break loose a head that’s stuck to the platter.
It also gets the greatest looks when the accounting folks see you walk into the break room and take a drive out of the freezer. “Well, the magentic field on the platter weakens with heat — you hit the curie point, and the data’s gone — so if you store your hard drives in the freezer, they’ll last longer. Why do think superconducting magnets have to be kept so cold?” Try to keep a straight face. See how many floppies show up in the freezer.In the waving a dead chicken file, this is what I do with a drive that is not going to be sent for recovery.1) Move it to another computer — if you are dealing with a marginal power supply, this might light it.Finally, well, a quarter pound of black powder sends dead drives a very long way indeed. Not very good at data recovery, but soothing in some ways none the less.
2) Whack it at startup. See the infamous Quantum 40MB and 80MB drives that lived in the Mac SE and SE30 that loved to develop stiction. The fun was pulling apart an SE, whacking the drive, which would then spin, then putting the SE back together with the power on — without hitting the yoke of the built in monitor, with Dire Consequence.
3) Freeze it for 15 minutes, then power it up. As Jordin says, condensation bad. Do this on a dry, low humidity day.
4) 2+3 equals 4, in this particular case. This is the “kick in the pants with a frozen boot” technique.
5) If you can, swap controller boards. This requires another identical drive — one you don’t care about, since it is easy to mung the controller board, thus killing another drive.
6) This is hardcore — but it’s worked for me. Once. You really shouldn’t even try.
Seriously. Don’t go here. Honest. This is commitment, and there is no going back — once you do this, you either get the data, or nobody does.
Okay. You take the lid off and spin the platters with your finger, TOUCHING ONLY THE HUB, then flip on the power. If it spins, you DUPE THE DISK RIGHT THEN AND THERE. The drive’s lifetime is now measured in minutes, and every speck of dust that hits that platter is one more chance for the heads to hit something and come crashing down into the discs themselves. This is known as “a head crash” to the boring, and “Gone Farming” to the rest of us. If you’ve seen the resulting furrows, you’ll understand.
Of course, there is no recovery of data that the heads have scraped off the disc. So don’t even think about pulling out screw one until you have another hard drive tested, formatted and online. If your duplication command is complex, write it out as a batch file. Seconds can count — the one time this worked for me, when the copy ended, I turned to report to the boss that I’d managed to get the data off, whereupon, SCREEECLUNK, and it was dead, and there was a lovely amount of metallic poweder in the air.
Magnetic powder, no less. Not much magnetism, mind you — but powder doesn’t need a whole lot of pull.
Once you’ve cracked the lid, you either get the data off, or you don’t. If you don’t, then, well, go ahead and pull the platters out, they’re kind of neat and shiny, until you get fingerprints all over them, and boy, do they take fingerprints. Some ring like cymbals, but most are fairly atonal. They are, until you mess with them, very, very flat indeed, so if you need a small reference surface, there you go.Needless to say, if there’s any chance you’ll be sending the drives to the pros, don’t do this. If you do, the chances of you getting the data back drop — and the cost of not getting that data back rise.