A New Year, A new Hard Drive Crash

I’m not totally naive. But I’m also up against this barrier: The time it takes to re-install tons of software and figure out tons of passwords and other crap saved in preferences files.

Once again, I am letting a repair utility, in this case, Disk Warrior, go through it’s time-consuming and completely NOT-promising process.

Here’s what I do know:

  • What one utility can’t fix, another sometimes can
  • When a repair utility fails the first time, sometimes the second time it will yield different results (sometimes a disk-restore utility will work, but only after several rounds taking hours and hours or even days)
  • Sometimes a particular app doesn’t work one way, but when you try it another way (like via target mode), it does.
  • There is no sane preference between the different utilities: Drive Genius, Disk Warrior, Etc… It seems to me like at any given moment, one might be better than the other, or that maybe certain programs are better with certain issues.
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • It’s a good idea to plan, while your repair utility is or isn’t working for hours and hours or days, what you’re going to do next.  Reformat?
  • Any sign of progress is a glimpse of hope, even if the program only updates you every two hours.
  • There is no hope for a bad drive, or bad ram or a bad logic board or power-supply, which can lead to a false diagnosis of a bad drive.
  • It is true that sometimes weird things like putting your drive in the freezer, will allow you to recover your data.
  • The language used by utilities is not understandable by humans.
  • We need to get used to these kinds of problems.
  • We need to be prepared for them (back-up, stupid!)
  • Again, I am a fool for not backing up the contents of this little laptop I have, which I thought I didn’t care much about, data-wise…

If I get this little bastard running again, I vow to look into network-backup solutions.  My main computer has a clone, which updates every day.

But a physical drive doesn’t make sense for a little baby dummy computer.  Turns out, that little dummy was one of my best friends and now I’m standing here feeling like a total jerk.

Happy New Year everyone!

Digital Permormer Can’t Save After Hard-Drive Clone/Migration

NOTE: the following refers to DP 5.1 on a Mac with OS 10.4.11… If you have a different version of OS X or if you’re running an older version of DP, things might be a little different

After cloning my drive with Carbon Copy Cloner and migrating to the clone, I found that Digital Performer wasn’t able to save files! Error Says:

An Error occurred while writing to the disk. The file [name] was not saved. This file was created in a later version of Digital Performer and cannot be opened in this version. Try to save your file on another disk or folder, or with a different name.

Oh no!

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A little digging found me these Instructions from MOTU but they are slightly incorrect, at least they were for me.

The fix is to delete an invisible file called Auth-DigitalPerformer 5.0 from your Hard Drive’s root directory.

If you’re not comfortable doing things in the Terminal, File Buddy is a great app for this sort of thing. It’s like a souped-up Finder allows you to work with invisible files and do all kinds of other advanced things with the stuff on your Mac. It’s a very useful program but it does cost like $40 bucks.

A free Applications that will get the job done just as well is called Visibility and it’s made by a company called Zevrix Solutions. Download it, install it, launch it, click on Show Invisible Files, the Finder will relaunch, then you will see the file called Auth-DigitalPerformer 5.0 in your Root directory. Trash it and DP should be happy again. Afterward you can use Visibility to put the Finder back to normal.

Do be really careful not to move or delete any of the other invisible files. They’re hidden from you for a reason.

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Drobo is looking pretty tasty

I haven’t looked too far into it, but…

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Looks like it’s only USB 2, and I suspect it would be better for me if it was FireWire 800 but… What do I know… Still looks pretty sweet.

Why Dead Hard Drives Click? What’s Going on in There?

EDIT: I found a YouTube Video of a clicking Hard Drive in action. Look!

[end of EDIT]

I found the following HERE I have no reason to doubt that this absolute stranger, calling himself erico, who wrote what is below, is telling the truth in this forum I found.

The Click Of Death is actually the Whack Of Death.

There are two motors in a hard drive. The first is obvious — it’s the spindle motor that spins the platters. In the very old days, these were awesome 1800 or 2400 rpm self-sync DC motors. These were cool toys. Later ones were 3600 rpm DC motors, with external sync via hall effect sensors — 3600rpm, you wonder? SImple. 60 rotations per second, made the clocking easy. Modern ones, spinning up to 15K, are very simple DC servo motors with very, very complicated controllers that sense the speed via back EMF on the motor coils. Very trick, and useless in other projects, but once you’ve got the software, really cheap and fast.

The “Freeze the drive” trick is for problems with the spindle motor. A shorted coil in a motor keeps it from spinning. Freezing it can move the coil such that it isn’t shorting, and the drive spins. Whack the drive fixes stiction — a bearing, or a head, sticks to the platter, and it doesn’t have enough torque to spin the drive. A whack breaks things lose, and the motor can spin the disk.

That’s not the problem here.

The other motor is the head positioner. In the old days, these were stepper motors, and the stepper on the ST 3040A was legendary — guys would pray this drive would die so they could steal it. Steppers, however, are only so precise and fast, so modern drives use voice coils to quickly place the heads just so. Originally, there would be either a “wedge” on one of the platters that had tracks that the heads could use to quickly find tracks, or an entire side of a platter was used for dedicated information about where the tracks were. Modern drives use what’s called “embedded servo” information — the information about where the tracks lie is underneath the data, so you don’t lose the capacity of a wedge or dedicated servo.

This leads to the Whack Of Death. To move the heads, a current is sent in the voice coil, and the heads count the tracks as they cross the servo lanes. So, to move 50 tracks in, the coil charges, creating a magnetic field, and since it’s stuck between two really powerful magnets, it moves, and fast. The heads count tracks until they reach 50, then the current stops charging, and the heads stop.

What’s the whack? The whack is the heads hitting the stop that keeps them from moving off the platters completely. What is happening — the heads can’t tell where the tracks are, so they keep swinging, until they hit the stop. This gets noticed, the controller retracts the heads all the way to the center, and it tries again.

WHACK. WHACK. WHACK.

This means: 1) The heads can’t sense position information, and 2) The drive is almost certainly toast. 95% of the time, it’s the head that’s on the servo platter. 5% of the time, it’s a controller or power issue. You can try the drive in another computer, but usually, you ask the $1000 question, which is “Is the data on this drive, that I haven’t backed up recently, despite the lectures every sysadmin has given me repeatedly, worth $1000?”

That being the cost of sending the drive off to the clever guys with lots of toys who can read the data off.

IOW. The drive is almost certainly toast. If the data is really important, you can send it to a disk recovery place, who will charge you lots of money, and send back the data on CD or whatnot. If it’s not, you buy a new drive (or two and a mirroring controller) and resolve to be better about backups next time.

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Blogging about my Hard Drive Problems

It just occurred to me that I will probably have a Hard Drive die every Six Months to a Year for the rest of my life since I work with Audio Media and always push the capabilities of my computer to the limit.  Hard Drives are the weakest link in the reliability chain contemporary PC hardware so until we do away with magnetic drives all together (hopefully soon), I will keep having these problems…

The good news is, as I deal with my failing Hard Drives, I learn in the process and can pass information along to others by writing about it.  Thus a new category of this blog is born: Hard Drive Drama

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All Computers Should Come with an Internal RAID 1 Drive Set-Up Inside

And when a drive goes down, it would be the equivalent of a check-engine light coming on for your computer. It would mean that you better get your computer fixed soon.

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I think that would be better than this all-at-once freak-out system people like me have with a single internal drive and an external to back-up on to manually.

People that do a lot of video editing are used to thinking about hard drives as little unreliable houses of cards, but most of us aren’t.

I like the idea of a more gradual form panic, or incremental panic… “Shit! I’m getting low on Hard Drives! Better get some more!”

Of course, Solid State Drives are just a few years around the corner. Those will surely be more reliable, right?

Hard Drive Crash Again. Can’t Startup. Can’t Mount. Can’t Replace Directory. DiskWarrior, Drive Genius, TechTool Deluxe

I don’t want to believe that my drive is dead yet. Yesterday there was a power-outage while I was right in the middle of recording a Cymbal Track in Digital Performer. I feel like that could be at the root of all this, but maybe I’m just in denial. Today I was tweaking some effect automation in the project and DP started to hang.

I should have shut everything down and done a permissions repair right then but I didn’t. Instead I kept trying to work and eventually ended up force-quitting a few programs that didn’t want to shut down in the background like Mail and iTunes… Finally, I decided I had better do a Permissions Repair and when I finally got started up from my Tiger Install DVD and launched the Disk Utility, my internal Hard Drive’s name had disappeared and the volume didn’t mount (pic)

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My friend Arin turned me on to DiskWarrior a few years ago, the first time I had a Hard Drive Disappear. Some background information:

In the Disk Utility, a Hard Drive shows up as two things that both have a hard drive icon next to them: An actual device (in my case, “149.1 GB ST3160023AS”), and a volume (the greyed-out “disk0s3”). The Device is exactly that, the actual physical Hard Drive machine component. The Volume is the usable area of a Hard Drive that’s been formatted, the ‘software drive,’ if you will. Continue reading “Hard Drive Crash Again. Can’t Startup. Can’t Mount. Can’t Replace Directory. DiskWarrior, Drive Genius, TechTool Deluxe”