the trouble with hard drives

Monday, September 20, 2004, at 12:00PM

By Eric Richardson

As usual, computer problems strike me when I need them least. Just a few weeks ago I totally rebuilt my machine. Everything was working great. Then yesterday I come home to find console messages saying that the ext3 journal had stopped on /dev/hda3 (mounted as /). The mount had gone read-only. Uh-oh. I try to shut it down cleanly, but I end up having to hit the reset button. On boot-up, the situation starts looking more serious. When the bootloader goes to read its second stage info off the drive, I just get a slow clicking. The boatloader eventually comes up without it's graphics or defaults, and manual boot attempts are fruitless. Booting into a console on a distro install cd I'm unable to mount anything off the drive -- "Input/Output Error".

So it's dead. And that means it's RMA time. The drive's under a year old -- I bought it on January 5th, to replace another bad drive.

HOLD ON... Wow. So my drive from yesterday's still dead, but there's an unexpected twist. The 60gig drive I bought in February, 2002, has unexpectedly come back to life. Just last month I tried to spin this drive up to recover data from it that had been lost since January. No go. It didn't even spin. It just made a faint but ugly clicking sound. Just now I threw it on and got the exact same thing. I powered the machine on only to get that faint clicking sound and no spinning. I got angry at it and smacked it. All of a sudden, it spins up. I boot a recovery cd. I mount the drive. All my data is there. Amazing.

So on the down-side I'm pretty sure my 160gig drive is really dead, and dead with it are a lot of files that I really should have been backing up. On the up side, all the music I thought I lost in January is all of a sudden found.

Stupid computers.

Now I need to craft a custom kernel and initrd to put on a distro install cd so that I can install Linux onto a SCSI drive even though my SCSI card isn't supported by the stock 2.6 kernel. Woo hoo!