Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

HD Failure, day 2

So far, I’ve been coping okay with just having Knoppix on here and only being able to save files to an FTP server – it’s not ideal but better than nothing. I’m impressed at just how fast Knoppix actually is, considering it’s running off a CD, but then most of it is loaded into RAM and I guess with having 512MB it would be quite fast.

As for the hard disk contents, I’ve pretty much resigned to the fact that I’m not going to be able to recover anything. OnTrack gave me a quote today (and took their time too, they said two hours and it was more like 5 working hours) and the minimum cost was more than the cost of buying an entire replacement computer. The really important stuff, like my university work, is back up to my user space on the university systems, as is any mail to my university account (i.e. the really important stuff), so I suppose I can let it go. I have lost any old messages sent to my accounts which is a shame but there shouldn’t be anything too vital in there. There’s also some stuff backed up on my parents’ machine.
There’s also a lot of music that’ll be gone but I have most of it on CD anyway, and I’ll need to re-encode a lot of it for when my iPod Mini arrives since it doesn’t support Ogg Vorbis. It does at least properly support VBR MP3s which means I can use Lame’s --alt-preset standard mode which provides pretty good output – it’s supposedly better than WMA and Sony’s ATRAC-3 at equivalent bitrates (around 192Kbps). I only have one DRM’d music file that will need downloading again but since I bought it from an OD2 supplier as long as I remember my login details I’ll be able to download it again.
I’ll be able to borrow my father’s laptop, which used to be mine until I got this one, as of this weekend which will bind me over until this is fixed. Although I think I removed all my old data off there, I might be able to do run an undelete utility over it, although I have defragged it a couple of times since so I’ve probably lost most of the retrievable data.
You’re probably wondering why I have no main backup, and that’s because it’s so awkward to do. This machine doesn’t have a CD writer and being a laptop I don’t have another hard disk to backup to. I back up the really important stuff onto my parents’ machine (which is well over 5 years old and has never had an HD failure) when I go home and do another backup onto the university systems too. But while I don’t have a huge HD, the volume of data on it just makes doing a complete backup very difficult. I think I’ve also become somewhat overly reliant on System Restore, which is great for rolling back problems affecting software but when the hard disk fails, or you delete a personal document, you’re screwed. The latter isn’t usually a problem for me – my My Documents folder quite closely resembles my room in terms of messyness; while some stuff is organised into folders there’s a lot of RMC (random miscellaneous crap) scattered around too. Like my room, I keep meaning to tidy it but never get around to it. In which case, having the whole lot deleted will probably make a nice fresh start for me.
On the less-computer-related front, I started work in the university’s MCC department today. During the training session in the morning, it became clear that I knew rather more about the system I was being trained for than the person training me did, although I did learn some useful new tricks. Most of the afternoon was spent making up information packs for Foundation Degree and Business PhD courses (a wide range indeed). Tomorrow is the second of my two retakes and then I’m at work again in the afternoon. And I’ll be spending Friday in a suit at Leeds University doing a presentation about my placement, before going back to York.
Normal blogging service will be resumed once I have my own working laptop again, which I reckon may be a couple of weeks away. In the meantime, don’t expect so much from me and don’t be surprised if Smaller World looks a bit blank. Comments will also need to be approved, since the idiot troll is still wasting my time, so if you want to volunteer as an approver please email me. I’m looking for either 1 or 2 people who can login perhaps once a day and approve comments – ideally, you’d need to be familiar with how MT3.01 works. Let me know if you’re interested.


  1. I’d be willing if you need help. You have my email address.

  2. I could also help – though my MT3.01 one knowledge isn’t what it used to be.