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Need help from the computer gurus!

 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4260
Registered: May-05
Not sure where to put this, I guess it somehow falls under transports...

I think my external hard drive is shot. All my music and pictures are stored on it. Luckily I kept all my CDs and have a way of getting back the pictures. Maybe someone can help me figure out if it's the hard drive, or something stupid on my part. I know there's a few guys who do computer stuff for a living here. It's a Seagate 1TB drive that plugs into the wall (non-portable). I have Windows XP on my laptop that I use the hard drive with.

Last time it worked normally was a few days ago. I brought it to my mother in law's house so she can use it to copy a bunch of pics onto her computer, as she had a virus and lost all her pictures. She has a newer Mac desktop. I tried to use the hard drive last night to transfer some new CDs to my iPod, and the problem began.

I hooked it up the way I normally do. I heard it start, like it always does. There's a light pattern/design on the front that came on, then faded and didn't come back on. The fading is normal, as it fades on and off whenever I'm transferring anything.

I can hear the hard drive spinning if I put it close to my ear. Not sure if that's normal or not, as I've never had to listen for it. The only time I've heard it do anything in the past is a click on sound when initially turning on, starting to transfer, and shutting off.

The computer didn't "see" the drive. Normally there's a small icon on the bottom left of the screen that turns green, a window pops up that scans the files, a window pops up and asks how I'd like to open the files, and I can open it from My Computer. None of these happened. It's not the USB port, as my iPod worked on both of them. Can't imagine it would be the power cord or USB cable, because without either, the hard drive wouldn't power up. I unplugged it and reconnected it 3 times last night. Same thing every time.

Do you guys think the hard drive is bad? Or could it be that my mother in law's Mac installed something that made it incompatable with my computer? Maybe the start up software got deleted or changed somehow? I can't hook it up to her computer again any time soon, as she's 3 hours away. Can't think of anyone off the top of my head who's got a Mac to try it on to see if it'll work on a Mac or not.

Not sure how durable these things are from a transferring a lot of stuff often stand point. I didn't transfer too much stuff at once until this past month. With my daughter being born and taking a million pictures of her, I've been transferring a lot of pictures everyday. From the camera to the hard drive, to a memory stick to bring to get printed, etc. I also bought a bunch of CDs this month and have been transferring them too. Maybe I over did it? Can't imagine that would be it though.

Really aggravated. I don't want to rip all those CDs again. Funny thing is, I was planning on buying a new hard drive after New Year to back this one up. I'm going to buy a new drive, regardless of if this one's bad or not.

So in looking for a new one, anyone have any suggestions? Are the flash based ones like the portable units more reliable? Would it make sense to buy 2 smaller ones than one large one, ie two 500 gb units vs one 1TB unit? Maybe put all my music on one, and pictures and documents on another? I'm thinking maybe 3 - one for music, and two for pics and documents - one back up and one regular use.

Did I mention that I'm really aggravated about this?

Please help! The hard drive is only a year and a half old and was rated pretty high in reliability in the PC mags. Pi$$es me off that much more.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4262
Registered: May-05
Good thing my Apple TV has its own internal hard drive, as my tunes would be unavailable if I had a streamer like a Squeezebox or Sonos.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1156
Registered: Jul-07
I'm going to assume your mother-in-law didn't reformat it to a Mac based file system. It should have been formatted FAT32, as NTFS won't work with Mac without an additional piece of software (NTFS-3G) which I've never tried.

Have you tried manually finding new hardware from the Control Panel option ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1157
Registered: Jul-07
If you right click on My Computer, click Manage, and then Disk Management, do you see the external drive listed ? Be careful when you're in there, as you can easily reformat a drive.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1158
Registered: Jul-07
If the master boot record on the disk got updated by the Mac, I could see the pc not knowing what to do with it now, as it doesn't recognize it. This is fixable if this is what it is. Let me know what the answers are to the above questions and then we can go from there.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4263
Registered: May-05
As far as I know, it's FAT32. All we did was plug it into her computer and drag and drop the files into her picture program. Disconnected it after that. We weren't prompted to do anything else.

I'll have to try your ways of finding the hard drive. It's at home and I'm at work, so I'll have to do that when I'm done here.

Thanks Chris!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3378
Registered: Jun-07
The Seagate externals are usually pretty good Stu.

Plug it into your Windows XP machine and give it a few minutes. Then right click on My Computer and go to Manage. Then in the manage menu on the right hand side click on Disk Management. You will see your laptop drive in the list below called Disk0. Check to see if Disk1 comes up. If it doesn't click on the Action menu at the top of the page and select Scan for Hard Drive to see if it comes up. If nothing, then it isn't working.

This does not mean the physical drive is dead though. External drives are usually regular 3.5 inch Sata drives inside a powered enclosure. Pop the enclosure open with a flat head screw driver revealing the hard drive. Take the drive out (usually just mounted with four screws) by unplugging the Sata data and power harness. If you have a PC somewhere in the house, pop the lid off of it and physically plug the Hard drive into the motherboard using a Sata cable and use a supplied power adapter from the Power Supply. See if the drive spins up and is detected then. I would bet it will work. If thats the case all you need is a 20 dollar enclosure. Cheers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3379
Registered: Jun-07
Sorry Chris Crossed posts with you. Had a visitor at the door.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4264
Registered: May-05
Thanks Nick. I'll try the stuff you and Chris mentioned. If that doesn't work, I think I'll need a lot of talking thorugh the second part of your post. You mentioned SATA cable and power adaptor - are these things I'd need to buy, or are they part of my hard drive and desktop PC?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3380
Registered: Jun-07
Depends on the External drive Stu. The Western Digitals use a small harness that is Sata Power and Data in one which would be useless to you. However some External drives have a small Sata cable attaching the drive to the enclosure which you could easily remove and use for testing. The Sata power should be available on the Power Supply depending on age of the PC of course. Worse case senario you would have to buy both a Sata cable and perhaps a Molex to Sata adapter from crap shack for a few bucks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 1976
Registered: Oct-07
Does the drive continue to work at the Mother-in-Law's house?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4265
Registered: May-05
Not sure Leo. She lives 3 hours away, so I can't bring it over to try it for a while.

Hopefully the autorun feature on it was deleted/changed/whatever and that's all.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4266
Registered: May-05
I swear you can't make this stuff up. I figured it out right before I tried to open the case...

The back of the hard drive has a series of ventilation holes. The same size as the mini USB input. I had the cable in one of those instead of the actual input! Worst part is, I unplugged and reconnected it 3 times last night.

Blame it on being sleep deprived, or trying to balance work, taking care of our 1 month old, or whatever. Computers really are only as smart as the person using them.

I don't call myself Stu Pitt for nothing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 1984
Registered: Oct-07
I am (I'm) going to refrain from making a smart axx remark, Stu.
We have (we've) all done nutty stuff like that.

Glad you straightened it out!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4269
Registered: May-05
I guess I'll ask this here -

I want to buy another hard drive as a back up. Are the portable hard drives flash memory, or are they what I have now - the spinning type, whatever its called. I was thinking a 500 gb portable one if its flash memory.

But then again, is flash memory really more reliable than spinning hard drives? I'd imagine no moving parts has much higher reliability.

If the portable ones are not flash, then I guess that's irrelevelant. But other than not having a power cord, what's the difference?

Just trying to be a more informed consumer. Trying to minimize spending more money on something that makes no difference at all. Kind of like buying Bryston instead of a Bose Acoustamass.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3382
Registered: Jun-07
lol In my line of work Stu we actually like it when its a simple fix like that. Right on.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1166
Registered: Jul-07
Another option to consider Stu is one of the online backup services like Carbonite. You pay them so much a year and then backup whatever directories/files you want automatically. If you ever lose anything, you can retreive it from them. It costs a few bucks each year, but you have to install nothing, remember to do nothing, and when you have your next hardware failure, you know you're covered.

Just an option to consider. I haven't gone there yet myself, but I'm thinking about it. I'm not diligent enough with my backups, so I know I'll eventually lose something again. It's just a matter of when, and what.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4270
Registered: May-05
I've considered online backup, but haven't really looked into it. That'll most likely be the best thing, just not sure about security, cost, etc. Not sure how I feel about pictures of my family in a place that can potentially get hacked. Not that I have pictures that I forsee being of any interest to anyone, but you never know.

What I'm going to do, for a while anyway, is burn CDs once I have enough stuff to fill them up. I'm guessing all my papers from my current grad school studies will probably easy fit on one. Burn CDs of my pictures when a folder is big enough, and so on. The two things I have to really pay attention to are organizing them so I know what's on what CD and where each type of CD is, and doing so in a timely fashion. CDs will most likely easily outlast any drive, so long as they don't get lost or physically damaged.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1167
Registered: Jul-07
From the little bit of research I've done on the security aspect, they seem more diligent about security than most banks. Your files are encrypted before leaving your computer, so even in the event they do get hacked (far more likely that your computer would) the files should be useless to them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4578
Registered: Feb-07
I back my files up to multiple drives, and I also have copies of all my digital photos burned to DVDs. I have photos of my both my kids being born which are obviously irreplaceable.

Another really good idea (something I should do) is to copy everything over to a portable drive and store it somewhere other than your house, in case of fire, break-in, etc.

Glad you sorted out your computer conundrum Stu.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 1987
Registered: Oct-07
Chris, security of that type of system (online) depends on the type of encryption used, 'bit depth' and types of attack possible given the type of encryption and the 'online' nature of the service.

You are perhaps still vulnerable to 'keystroke loggers' and 'man in the middle' attacks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4283
Registered: May-05
There's different risks to everything, Leo. It's which tradeoffs are the best for the user IMO. I wouldn't store stuff like account numbers, social security numbers, incriminating pics (not that I have any), or stuff like that on an Internet server.

I think my best bet is to buy a binder type disc storage thing, burn CDs, keep a copy at home and one at a family member's house. My old man has a good safe. Now that I think about it, my wedding negatives and a few other things are in there. It's one of those large vault type safes that was left in an old building he bought.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3387
Registered: Jun-07
Recordable CD's Stu? What are those? lol. You mean burn DVD's right? hehe.

I get 32gb Kingston flash thumb drives for 25 dollars which I backup everything to. If I fill one up with stuff I do not want to part with, I buy another one. I only have 1.5 full at the moment. Mainly pictures.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1173
Registered: Jul-07
Every system has vulnerability Leo. I expect our home computers are far more vulnerable than a company like Carbonite. If you're connected to the internet you are vulnerable. And how much time does the average Joe spend protecting themselves ? And all of that physical backup on thumb drives and disks.....what happens to that in the event of fire ?

I'm just saying that we scrutinize other companies because we wonder how secure they are, when in reality we are far more vulnerable ourselves (by far) than most reputable organizations who specialize in data security.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3390
Registered: Jun-07
Another solution is to create your own off site data storage. I use a little FTP server I built here at work to upload my home stuff to. Just a simple machine, nothing like a data tape based server a company like Carbonite would use but it does the trick. And I know where my data is as I have full control of it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1178
Registered: Jul-07
No question that does the trick Nick. It's just that 95% of folks don't have your technical knowledge to pull that off.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4584
Registered: Feb-07
I'd be careful sending personal stuff of a sensitive nature over the pipe too, unless you're using FTP over SSH.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3393
Registered: Jun-07
SSH all day David that is for sure.

I hear ya Chris. I know some peeps that use online storage and love it.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15669
Registered: Dec-04
Not 500G flash drive yet Stu, still very expensive.

I keep a few tunes in the 8T drive here...
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3394
Registered: Jun-07
8TB full NAS FTP A/V server. 500 gig SS drive are a little over a grand. yikes.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15671
Registered: Dec-04
Stu, that means about 23X the price.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15672
Registered: Dec-04
Murphy's therom says the number of transistors able to fit a certain space will double every 2 years.
Doubling the count (can) square the speed.

Plasma (living storage) will be available before SS drives are done.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 1994
Registered: Oct-07
Moore's law?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law

Murphy's law? Another kettle of fish, altogether!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy's_law
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