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Backup/External HD Failure!
Old 12-12-2013, 08:23 AM   #1
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Backup/External HD Failure!

After (not sure how) many years, my WD Passport which I've used to back up my PC HD's weekly, just turned up DOA. Surprised me!

I tried to back up last night twice, both failed after trying for many hours each time (not typical, so I was afraid I was headed for trouble). None of the WD diagnostics or tools can even "see" the Passport. Rut-row.

I'm not really upset about it, I got my money's worth out of it and I'm probably due for a new one. And nothing is lost since my PC HD's are running fine.

It's just amusing/ironic to me that my external HD which was 'never pressed into service' and is supposed to be my last line of defense -failed before the PC internal HD's. So off to BB today to get another...
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Old 12-12-2013, 08:38 AM   #2
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I had a n0-name brand portable hard drive similar to a Passport a few years ago that slipped out of my hand and hit the floor. The shock rendered the HD unreliable. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't! Retired it and now have a USB connected external HD that's used for back-up, but it's not exactly portable, kind of big with external power supply.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:04 AM   #3
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I prefer not to use magnetic disks to backup anything important. Anything with moving parts is subject to a higher than average failure rate. With flash memory being so cheap now, it's easy to back up all data to a flash drive (or two or three) for a very small cost. Most people do not need to back up their entire hard drive, since the operating system and applications can generally be reinstalled from disks or downloads.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:11 AM   #4
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Related to this, I have a bunch of old external drives, as I acted as IT guy for the extended family, and I was big on keeping backups and backups of the previous system in case bugs showed up and I had to revert them to an older version of the OS.

After the holidays, maybe a rainy day project will be to do some consolidation, and then a round-robin of re-format, test, and re-copy of anything I still want. The magnetic levels on an HDD do fade with time, and occasional re-write is recommended, though I don't recall how many years for this to take effect.

-ERD50
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:24 AM   #5
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I have a WD Passport drive that has problems also. I'd hear a clicking sound and then the HD would only get recognized on certain PCs. Too bad as the HD is cute and portable.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:39 AM   #6
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I had the same thing happen w/ my WD Passport this summer. I was preparing to turn in my company laptop for a PC refresh and tried to backup my files. No go. It just quit working. With a great leap of faith I boxed the laptop up and sent it off. Fortunately the IT dept did a good job of transferring the files to the new tablet/pc.
I've since just downloaded what I need onto a handful of flash drives.
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:50 AM   #7
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If the drive is clicking then it is a mechanical failure. You may be able to still get at the platter contents. But it will take some time.

Another thing that I see happening, more frequently than failure, is that Windows or perhaps the USB implementation seems to forget what to do with drive. A drive letter is not assigned. Another USB device could be interfering.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ready View Post
I prefer not to use magnetic disks to backup anything important. Anything with moving parts is subject to a higher than average failure rate. With flash memory being so cheap now, it's easy to back up all data to a flash drive (or two or three) for a very small cost. Most people do not need to back up their entire hard drive, since the operating system and applications can generally be reinstalled from disks or downloads.
Without OS, apps, etc. - our personal files total 132GB, and that's all I was ever backing up.

I guess I could go flash drive(s) for just a few $ more (than a 500GB WD Passport Ultra), but I wonder how disciplined I would be to backup regularly with a flash drive. It has been nice to have my PC automatically alert me once a week (that part's easy to replicate) and do it all in the background with the press of one virtual button (not sure about that part with a flash drive).

I've certainly had flash drives die on me in my lifetime though.

As I think about it, I've never had an internal hard drive fail on one of my personal computers in all these decades. Not to say I've never seen one fail (at work), but it's never happened to me personally.

Thanks, something for me to seriously consider...
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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What kind of severance package will the old drive receive?
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:18 AM   #10
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Is your external HD connected all the time Midpack?

I put mine away so if the burglar chooses to take my PC or components, maybe he won't find the HD backup. Also has the virtue of lowering the mechanical usage of the little thing ... not always spinning and starting/stopping.

FWIW, my only HD failure was an internal one and that was Western Digital. So rightly or wrongly it's on my do not buy list. I've had good experiences with Seagate but that may just be luck.

I do use a flash drive also for key file backups. They write slowly though and are only good for low GB storage. Or are there fast ones out there that are not too pricey? It takes several minutes to write about 2GB to mine. One of these days I'm going to try encrypting and cloud storing some stuff.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:26 AM   #11
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To have a safe backup, one needs one of those file servers that incorporates dual drives and makes an automatic duplicate of everything that's stored. If one of the drives fails, it can be replaced and the recloning is handled automatically. If the server electronics fail, one can remove the drives and tries to retrieve the data, which is most often stored using a Linux file system. That requires a PC running Linux and takes a bit of work.

I have mentioned this before, but people running Windows are best served by turning an old PC into a file server by installing Windows Home Server (WHS) which can be bought for $100. You can install dual drives and have automatic file duplication. Data is stored with Windows file system, hence the extracted drives can be read more easily.

WHS also supports auto backup and restore of client Windows PCs, which is painless and fast over a wireless network. And because WHS is meant for Windows, when backing up multiple PCs that have duplicated system binary files, it will share one file copy for many PCs, hence cutting down the storage space and time for backup.

If a client PC crashes, you can boot it with a prepared CD or a flash drive, and the PC is completely restored over the wireless network. I had to do that once. Nice!

WHS is also a media server, and can support other devices, not just Windows PCs. As a PC user, I have cursed at Microsoft for many deficiencies of its products, but WHS has served me reasonably well.

PS. I also have a couple of portable file servers that are on the wireless network for music streaming, casual file storage and backup. The WHS PC is my ultimate archive, but it is not on 24/7.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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Nice NW-Bound. You have a lot of energy to do all this. And I thought I was over the top regarding backups!

I talk to lots of people who do no backups.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:43 AM   #13
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What does an ER guy do all day?

Seriously, I am the IT guy for myself (with multiple home PCs to support my work when I was still at it), my wife, and the children when they lived at home. And I have a couple of TBs of personal photos, home videos and music files to save.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:53 AM   #14
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With all of the cross-pollenation going on in a home server would'nt a breach of security potentially expose the whole system?
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:59 AM   #15
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I guess that potential risk exists. I do make sure to have antivirus software up-to-date on all client PCs and on the home server software itself. Note that WHS is "smarter" than a USB drive which does not care what gets transferred into it.

Still, if it occurs and one knows about it, the drives inside WHS can be removed, scanned for viruses, and user files selectively transferred. I surely hope I will never have to do that.
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:01 PM   #16
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I have TWO external hard drives. An ancient one that is heavy as a brick and new portable one. I alternate my backups onto each one. At worst I will lose 2 weeks worth of stuff. I guess I could be really good and do one on monday and one on tuesday but I'm just not that disciplined.
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I have TWO external hard drives. An ancient one that is heavy as a brick and new portable one. I alternate my backups onto each one. At worst I will lose 2 weeks worth of stuff. I guess I could be really good and do one on monday and one on tuesday but I'm just not that disciplined.
Do you store one of them offsite or in a fire proof safe? Hard disk failure is my #1 concern. Fire or theft probably rates higher for me than a simultaneous failure of both my laptop and my backup drives. I'm hoping the safe really holds up if there is a fire.

Right now I store my backup drive in a fireproof safe. But it's a small pain to get it out for backups so I probably don't do it as often as I should. I may switch to a 2 drive system: a larger one for full backups that I keep handy for weekly backups, and a smaller capacity one just for my documents, music, pictures, and anything else I deem critical, stored in the fireproof box. Update that after critical times like after doing taxes, a new set of pictures I don't want to lose, etc.

A cloud backup is probably even safer, but I'm not 100% comfortable it won't be compromised.
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:52 PM   #18
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With all of the cross-pollenation going on in a home server would'nt a breach of security potentially expose the whole system?
Yes. That has occurred. Cryptolocker is a recent example.
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Old 12-12-2013, 02:06 PM   #19
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Is your external HD connected all the time Midpack?
Nope, only plug it in when prompted to do a backup. I prefer to keep in unplugged for the same reasons as you, plus if I ever get a surge/spike that trashes my PC I'd rather it didn't wipe out my backup/external drive too.

Just bought a 500G WD Passport Ultra on sale for $59.99. Looked at flash drives but more expensive for my needs, and way more expensive per GB. But hopefully there won't be anything but flash storage/drives when the new Passport dies...or we'll all have everything in a "cloud" somewhere.
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Old 12-12-2013, 04:17 PM   #20
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What kind of severance package will the old drive receive?
I apologize if this was too cryptic, it was intended as a lighthearted seque into 'how will you destroy the old hard drive'
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