Seagate drive problem

This evening I opened up the failed hard drive with the intention of destroying the physical disk before taking it to the dump for recycling. I discovered that despite the Iomega branding on the case, the actual hardware was a Seagate drive.

When I realised the disk was a Barracuda 7200.11 I thought, “Hang on, I have heard about these”. I remembered drsolly writing about these on his blog so I read that again and then did a bit of research of my own. The problem with these drives is that if you start them up when the internal event log is at line 320 (or something like that) the disk dies, even though all the data is still there on. Anyway, there are a couple of fixes which may (or may not) work in my case so I’m going to have a play with trying to fix it. I need to connect to the disk from a serial port so I’ve ordered an adapter.

I’ll report back when it arrives!

This is why we back up our files

I just had an external hard drive fail. This is an old disk, in fact it’s the oldest one on my LAN. It’s an Iomega 500MB (a huge capacity when I bought it!) which was connected to my router as a network drive. This morning it crashed while I was copying a file from it. Later, when I had time to investigate further, it failed in a major way. I tried some “first aid” using Disk Utility but I already knew it was a dead-un. I managed to copy some important photos off it before it ground to a complete halt and that was it!

Luckily there wasn’t anything important on it, mainly duplicate backups and copies of OS updates, patches, etc., to save me downloading them again if needed. Even the photos were just just local copies of ones that I am also storing online and elsewhere. I say “luckily” but it was more by design than luck.

So although it was annoying, I shan’t spend any serious time on recovery operations. I wouldn’t feel I could trust the disk afterwards anyway.

What this event has done though is reminded me that it is not a question of whether a hard disk will fail but when.

So not only do you need to backup and backup often, keep those backups on more than one hard drive and keep a copy somewhere on a cloud-based storage service. Check that you can actually restore from said backup. Keep an eye on the age of your main backup drives and replace them when they get a bit long in the tooth.

Microsoft Certification

I expect you’ve seen the news item about the five year old passing his Microsoft Certified Professional exam. Seems to me that’s similar to those “gifted” children who pass their A-Levels before they can walk.

Back in the day I worked in IT support and have been subjected to years of working with Microsoft products. I think this qualifies me to observe that:

  1. There is no substitute for experience
  2. I wouldn’t let anyone with only a Microsoft qualification anywhere near my server room.





Moar speed

I’ve been keeping an eye on my super new broadband speed since Virgin Media gave me a free speed bump.

Of course, the speed you get when you do a speed test doesn’t really mean much as there are many variables affecting the speed at which a website appears in your browser window (etc.), not to mention the impact of other devices on the same LAN sharing that bandwidth. Then there’s the time of day… I could go on but you get the idea.

Anyway, in case you’re interested, my speeds seem to average around 77 Mbps Down and 6 Mbps Up.

Museum piece

Today I had to get an old Dell laptop out of my “museum of tech”.

Reason? So that my daughter could log on to her works HR system to book her holiday. Unbelievably their application only works with IE. I really thought I’d seen the back of that class of lazy programming.

At my last work place, our HR ran on SAP and required nothing finer than IE6 but that was a couple of years ago. Truly hope things have moved on since. I wonder?


Last week (5th July) I set up the new Super Hub which Virgin Media had sent me. I wasn’t particularly bothered about the projected speed increase but one has to keep up with the Bransons, doesn’t one? Anyway, having had it for a week it’s time for a review.

Installation was a breeze, however the kit is a Netgear wireless router and although I’m sure it would perform well enough I already have my networks configured how I like them, using an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station. Fortunately VM’s Super hub can be configured as a modem. Having set it up in “modem mode” I just had to use an ethernet cable to connect the Super Hub to my AEBS and that was it, job done.

VM’s promised speed was “up to” 60Mb/s downstream – when I set it up with a wired connection I got:

Speed test after install 62Mb/s

In more normal use, on my “n” WiFi I am getting around mid-50Mb/s. My network typically has 2 or 3 Macs, 2 iPads and a few iPhones connected at the same time (and maybe the XBox). Not too shabby in my view. This is a test from just now:

A typical speedtest result - 50Mb/s

Happy with that. 🙂