Monday, June 21, 2010

Hard Drive FAIL (Memories Part I)

I keep an external hard drive with all my old files on it, and my space-hogging music and photo files. I've had the hard drive since undergrad - four or five years or so - ever since my Dad bought it for me. It's always served me well.

Until, clumsy me, one day I bumped my desk and the drive fell over the edge onto the linoleum. Ack! Metallic crunches are such sickening sounds...

I plugged the drive into my laptop, crossed my fingers, and.... nothing. Drat.

I noticed the cord was bent, so step one was to buy a new cord. Nope, that's not the problem. Perhaps the connector inside the enclosure was bent? A test with a spare enclosure I had assured me it was not.


I took the hard drive to MicroCenter to see if they could retrieve my data, they plugged in the drive, and the drive showed up! Yay! But they were going to charge me $150 to put the data on a new drive. I thought that was too expensive, so I said no. Ah, if only...

Because two days later when I decided that fine, YES, I would pay them that amount - I took it back, and the drive would no longer mount.

Oh dear.

So then I had to decide - do I send it out to a data recovery place? Having data recovered professionally starts at about $700 and can easily get into the thousands.

OH, that's a crunch on a grad student budget.

I found a place that gives a student discount and free evaluation, and sent it off. They called me back with a range of prices that the recovery would be end up being, depending on the severity of the problem once they took it apart.

I thought about it a long time, and I decided to go for it. If it was just my music that I would lose, or old files, I wouldn't care so much. But my PHOTOS. I can't get those memories back.

And I am blessed to have a savings account for purposes like this. I am fortunate that this is even a choice - I know a lot of students don't have enough reserves to cover a problem like this. In the end, I decided that in ten years I won't miss the hit in savings, but I will miss the memories.

So it all ends well - all my files were recovered. It ended up being at the top end of their price range estimate, and I didn't negotiate. I probably should have, because my Dad tells me this is typical - it's like taking your car to get the transmission repaired. Once they get it up on the blocks, the price just keeps going up... If I had said no or pushed back, they might have brought the price down.

But anyway. I have all my photos. I had a great time looking through all the old pictures, so I thought I'd share some. (I'm only sharing the ones with me in it, or people that I know won't mind being featured, so this whole list looks a little self-centered. I apologize.) Thanks to data recovery, I can relive experiences like these:

Fig 1: April 1st, 2005. My dorm-mates dyed my hair red (they told me it would be brunette) as an April Fool's joke.

Fig 2: Jan 2006. Myself, my grandfather, and my two newest cousins checking each other out.

Fig 3: April 2006. At a ceremony in my honor for winning a scholarship. Apparently I made sure to wear my nerdiest glasses, and most boring blue shirt/black pants combo. Chose a shirt that didn't fit well, for fullest dork impact.

Fig 4: May 2006. Touring a steel-making factory in Japan.

Fig 5: May 2006. An unanticipated local culture quirk - toilets in the floor in Japan.

Fig 6: May 2006. In front of the center of the Hiroshima blast.

Fig 7: May 2006. Mock-driving a Toyota concept car on the factory show floor.

Fig 8: December 2006. Team picture with my undergrad friends. Photo taken for Measurements class, where we managed to make a weekend of fishing into a final project submission.

Fig 9: Christmas 2006. Taking one of my best friends to see New York city during the holiday season. It was her first time East of the Mississippi.

Fig 10: Feb 2007. My friends and I being goofy during senior year. I don't get to see these girls any more, sadly.

Fig 11: April 2007. Visiting my sister's lab, where I was forced to don latex gloves.

Fig 12: April 2007. Gingerly opening a refrigerator in my sister's biology lab. I was clearly not in my element.

Fig 13: April 2007. Showing my sister where I AM in my element. The machine shop where I built all my undergrad projects.

Fig 14: April 2007. Lying in the oven I used to make airplane parts in senior design. It's big oven.

Fig 15: April 2007. Demonstrating how I felt to be done making airplane parts in senior design.

Fig 16: May 2007. Graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Fig 17: May 2007. My sister and mother and grandmother all attended my graduation. The even came early for the reception, which impressed me. My family are not early risers.

Fig 18: Summer 2007. Graduation scuba diving trip in the Turks and Caicos islands with my mother.

Fig 19: Summer 2007. My mother even brought her camera underwater to document the trip. I was impressed. I had enough trouble just with the scuba-ing.

Fig 20: Summer 2007. Horseback riding in Turks and Caicos. My mother's horse just wanted to eat the trees.

Fig 21: Summer 2007. What better way to celebrate before going off to grad school, than to relax in the tropics in front of the sunset?

To Be Continued....


  1. I love going through old pictures. I think we're of the generation to be too old to have digital pictures from our childhood, but right at the time to have captured a lot of our first forrays into youny adulthood and beyond. Much easier than flipping through physical photographs (and much easier to transport) I wonder what the repercussions will be to having nearly our whole lives on easy digital access like that. But you remind me of something more important; time to backup my pictures and documents again.

  2. Very nice pictures Miss Outlier.

    Today, I got a good reminder of keeping backup of my computers because my laptop started to make clicking noise from the hard disk and windows crashed; fortunately, I had my spare disk & print server which hasn't been used for a long time (my brother was finding it too noisy) but which I put back into services while I fix up the laptop (gonna happen next month, I have my move to prepare).