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Author Topic: A cautionary tale about backups  (Read 2176 times)
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Magnox
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« on: November 06, 2013, 01:02:30 13:02 »

I though I was safe, really I did. I've often spoken of the fact.

Not any more.

Yesterday I plugged a USB keyboard into my PC, and shortly thereafter things went completely tits up. Why it all happened I don't know, but I suspect that Bill Gates is a sadistic freak!

The point is that I had a big 4TB data disk, and another in the PC that backed up the first one weekly. I thought that if anything went wrong on the data drive, the backup drive would be safe, unlike doing an actual mirrored array where a software glitch writing rubbish would happen to both drives at once.

I did not realise the depths of Windows' deviousness.

At some stage during me recovering my system from the total mess it got into, Windows somehow managed to trash not just the data disk, but the backup too. There was no reason for Windows to even touch the two drives, the OS, programs and working areas are on a third drive. But, touch them it did in the manner of a serial rapist.

Both disks have damage to the NTFS filesystem and have lost and corrupt files seeminlgy at random all over. I know that I have completely lost two large folder trees with over 500,000 files on them. That's just the start. Even worse is not knowing which files are good and which aren't; many look OK until I try to open them, and I don't have time to check 4TB of files!

I can only think that at some point in system recovery, Windows decided that it couldn't cope with large (>2.2TB) HDs even though it is 64 bit and should be able to. What Windows doesn't understand, Windows destroys.

So much for my theory of backup protection for my main data HD.

Fortunately, I do have an offsite backup but I haven't updated it since 1st August. At least I can recover most of the loss then. I'm treating that backup disk like a fragile, priceless antique now, until I get another copy of my data.

Backup your data folks, on something not plugged into the PC!

« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 05:50:04 17:50 by Magnox » Logged
Old_but_Alive
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 02:56:53 14:56 »

also comrades,

I just bought a new delll XPS12

its all this EUFI shit.

used BCD stuff  to get my system into the state I wanted to.

now ?,
new XPS12  wont boot.

BE CAREFUL
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LithiumOverdosE
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 05:06:43 17:06 »

I use physically disconnected disk for backups and I only connect it (directly to SATA, no USB BS) during backup process.

However, if one is not careful with backup settings mishaps might happen and important files might be overwritten with damaged ones.
Been there, done that, wanted to pull out my hair when I realised what happened.  Undecided
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optikon
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 10:46:26 22:46 »

Setup a Raid 1 config my friend.

The minute things go south, yank the working drive outta there.
Don't give windows a chance to keep mucking things up.
We all know Micro$oft cant be trusted.

Bad head replacement or platter restacking in a clean room costs *only* about $1000 USD FWIW.
I built a 6Tb raid 1 setup for ~ $400.


« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 10:50:54 22:50 by optikon » Logged

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CocaCola
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 11:50:05 23:50 »

Bad head replacement or platter restacking in a clean room costs *only* about $1000 USD FWIW.

I built a mini positive pressure clean room out of a rubber maid container, rubber dish gloves, a small shop vacuum on exhaust and a Hepa filter, for under $100...  A perfect clean room nope, but it was good enough for me to swap the head on a few dead hard drives and recover the data myself...
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solutions
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2013, 01:13:14 01:13 »

I've learned my lesson with a 2TB.

My IT policy now is to not use anything larger than a 1TB.

Less stuff to lose, faster to back up.

CocaCola - you get the Hard Core Award of the Week
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 01:15:56 01:15 by solutions » Logged
optikon
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 03:34:25 03:34 »

I built a mini positive pressure clean room out of a rubber maid container, rubber dish gloves, a small shop vacuum on exhaust and a Hepa filter, for under $100...  A perfect clean room nope, but it was good enough for me to swap the head on a few dead hard drives and recover the data myself...

Tutorial please.

Ha, just kidding... but seriously, that's cool. I've wondered how clean it really must be to work ok.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2013, 07:27:37 07:27 »

Honestly it's not as involved as the data recover experts would like you to believe...  I'm not saying it's a cake walk, and i'm not saying or even suggesting you take apart a drive and actually depend upon it after it's been cracked open but for a low cost way to attempt to recover data yourself it's something you can try...

BTW you will need to find a donor drive, the closer to the exact revision and serial of your existing drive the better...  And trust me most of the people selling these used donor drives on Ebay know what they are being used for and charge a premium...

First off I started to explore how to do it awhile back and I found out that gamers and pc modders have been doing this for years, so that they could cut clear windows into their the drives for 'bling'

Next I built the box, after it was built I took some white vinegar and distilled water 50/50 mix and took a lint free microfiber cloth and wiped down the inside of the box... The vinegar should in theory kill the static charge in the plastic so that it doesn't attract new dust...  After it was washed down I took distilled water in a spray bottle and sprayed it out...  Gave it a few minutes to drip dry then popped the lid on even though it was still damp inside...

Taped the lid down, but not tight, you want it to pop up a little and exhaust the inside air pressure and allow for air exchanges...  Next I took a shop vac and hooked the hose up to the exhaust port and plugged it into my box (see back picture)...  What happens now is when the shop vacuum is blowing air into the tank, it's blowing it through the Hepa filter in the tank, thus all the air in the tank is for the most part 'clean'...  I ran it until the tank was dry, took something like 2 hours, then I placed all my tools and the hard drives inside the tank and closed it back up...  I then ran the tank for 1 hour so it had hundreds of air exchanges and in theory purged out any dust...  Also about 5 minutes into this first 1 hour purge with the tools I put my hands in the gloves and took the compressed air bottle and hit up my tools and the hard drives exteriors just to make sure there was no loose dust on them, knocking the dust off should allow it to flow out as the air exchanges...

After an hour with the tank still running, I stuck my hands into the gloves again and proceeded to do the job at hand...

BTW, I have also used this box to replace digitizers and LCDs in phones and tablets for a dust free swap out...

Anyway forgive the shoddy pictures and dust on the clean box, it's been sitting around for about a year now...  Also please excuse the hack job assembly, this was only supposed to be a temporary one use device that was going in the trash when don, but it worked so well I kept it around...





And last but no least look at this guys video on a cheap alternative to a head comb, a necessary tool when doing a head swap...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIPZtJyrVPw
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calabazas
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2013, 08:19:46 08:19 »

So much pain to repair HDD in order to savage data. Hope I don't have to go to that route. Been thinking about Promise Pegasus Thunderbolt, like those for MacBook Pro. Or, build a NAS server with MS Storage Server. RAID 5 should prevent from needing to fix HDD head. Just swap out the bad one(s).
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2013, 09:06:58 09:06 »

Backup your data folks, on something not plugged into the PC!
My external USB-Drive is most of the time switched off :-)

I have lost several GB of data some years ago with a bad USB-IDE-chip.

The USB-ID is 14cd:6600 "Super Top USB 2.0 IDE DEVICE".

This little bugger goes into Hara-Kiri-Mode if he meets a bad sector on the disk
and shredders also the rest.

Dont use this chip for anything beyond time-shifting of a videostream.


Best Regards
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Magnox
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2013, 09:28:39 09:28 »

I've learned my lesson with a 2TB.

My IT policy now is to not use anything larger than a 1TB.

Less stuff to lose, faster to back up.

CocaCola - you get the Hard Core Award of the Week

I'm with you on all counts!

CocaCola, that's great. I once did something similar for handling some dodgy chemistry (I was an amateur 'energetic materials' experimenter) but it didn't look as nice as yours.

...

I've figured out why Windows trashed my data. Nothing to do with the original sever crash, but everything to do with Windows' restore/reinstall process.

It seems that while Windows 64-bit nativelty supports >2.2TB hard disks, at least according to Microsoft, it only does so after the proper Intel drivers have been installed. This is not done by default in Windows!!!

I must have installed the drivers myself when I first got a 3TB drive, and forgotten about it since.

Windows obviously saw the large HDs and, as I said earlier, did not understand them, so it trashed them both.

The really bad thing is that Windows should not have touched the drives at all.

Morals of the story:

1. Stick to smaller HDs (thanks Solutions)
B. Remove large drives from the system before doing a restore (hopefully the OS isn't on one!)
iii. Don't trust a backup that uses an internal HD; Windows can kill it in the blink of an eye.

If I ever see Bill Gates, well... has anyone seen the movie Hostel?
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2013, 12:48:37 12:48 »

I backup my data to a NAS attached to my LAN (obviously) on a backup-when-remember basis. It can bu automated too. The NAS also backups itself to an external HDD attached to the router through its USB port with a periodic 'Cron' job and a shell scipt.

No Windows or any other computer or OS involved. Quite safe imo.
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2013, 10:21:31 22:21 »

I built a mini positive pressure clean room out of a rubber maid container, rubber dish gloves, a small shop vacuum on exhaust and a Hepa filter, for under $100...  A perfect clean room nope, but it was good enough for me to swap the head on a few dead hard drives and recover the data myself...

I heard many people boasted this, but most of them are a bag of wind.
If you have really done it, thats awesome.
So how do you tackle the head alignment issues?
IMO mechanics of head replacement is easy but there is no way you could align the head properly even with a CNC pick and place, unless you can realign the head.
Without the correct procedure it is a hollywood dreamed scenario, a bit like pointing a gun in a general direction would get you bulls eye every time.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2013, 10:58:25 22:58 »

So how do you tackle the head alignment issues?

I didn't, as it wasn't a concern that needed addressing with the drive(s) I took apart...

Head alignment is pretty much only an issue on some Western Digital drives, where the head is aligned with a screw through the cover, thus if the cover gets warped, twisted or damaged you can have issues...  But, even this can be overcome most of the time if you take your time and stay focused, or spend the time tweaking the assembly and screws on the lid until it falls back close enough...  On most other drives the head is in a fixed location screwed internally to the solid cast frame of the drive...  Beyond that final head alignment is handled in the hard drives firmware upon boot up as long as it's within acceptable tolerances it self aligns...

Quote
Without the correct procedure it is a hollywood dreamed scenario

I have swapped the heads on three drives thus far and recovered the data 100% on all those drives, so it's not a dream scenario to me...

One thing I learned real quick when doing my own hard drive surgery is that there is a lot of spook and scare out there, sure the concerns are real but they are mostly exaggerated to extremes...  Again I'm not saying the spook and scare is unfounded but it sure is exaggerated in most cases...

For me is was a no brainer, I wasn't ever going to send the drive out to get recovered as anything on it that was that important was already backed up, it was mostly trivial stuff that I wanted back...  I had nothing to lose but the little money purchasing the donor drives, and it paid off...
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 11:18:00 23:18 by CocaCola » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2013, 02:35:54 14:35 »

CocaCola, that setup is impressive, simple but effective.

When it comes to hard drives, any feel on what drives to avoid, what is recommended?  In the past 5 years, the Western Digital has done well for me, as well as the Seagate small laptop USB drives.  I did have multiple problems with the Seagate Barracuda drives and are on my black list.

The same goes with DVD+R discs.. Had a number of Sony's fail after a couple years, and had no problems with the Verbatim AZO discs.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2013, 04:27:15 16:27 »

When it comes to hard drives, any feel on what drives to avoid, what is recommended?

They all fail, and regardless of any brand loyalty they all have lemon models that come out and fail at much higher rates...  I stopped worrying about the brand many years ago, nowadays I just grab what is cheap as long as it's not one one of the new 'low energy' models that seem to have higher failure rates in my experience...

Quote
The same goes with DVD+R discs.. Had a number of Sony's fail after a couple years, and had no problems with the Verbatim AZO discs.

Google up how to identify the manufacture using the serial numbers on the inner ring, on the sites that pop you will also get statistics on what brands burn more reliably...  Most companies purchase what is cheap at that moment and rebrand, meaning today's Sony DVDs might not actually be the same brand as tomorrows even though they both have a Sony silk screen on top...

Also when doing DVD or any hard copy backups, consider doing a large set of parity files...  That way even if a DVD volume is lost or damaged, you can recreate that damaged DVD from the parity files...  Cheap insurance...
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 04:32:47 16:32 by CocaCola » Logged
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