God fucking damn it. Why am I cursed to kill every single hard drive I put something important onto? It doesn’t matter how regularly I use it, how often or rarely it moves, how full or empty I keep it—if I’ve put something on it that I do not have a copy of somewhere else, it will fail at exactly the moment when it shouldn’t. Let’s examine our latest catastrophic drive failure, shall we?
A few months ago I purchased a Drobo and a couple of server-class SATA drives to fill it. All well and good. It seemed to have been working fine under both Windows and the Mac (I have a dual boot on my MacBookPro) until yesterday when it refused to mount and I was blessed with this lovely error message.
Oh no, I thought. This is not going to be good. When a drive goes down, I generally try and repair it with the least invasive method possible—ejecting it and power cycling. You have no idea how often that will do the trick. The next step is to switch the port which the cable is connected to. When those don’t fix the problem, I pull out the big guns, either DiskWarrior or Techtool, depending on what I think the issue is. If I think it’s a hard disk controller issue, then I use TechTool. If I think it’s a directory issue, I use DiskWarrior. This combo has fixed a number of disks I feared lost. So, when the Drobo (which I named Cthulhu) refused to mount, I ran, of course, DiskWarrior on it. After a seemingly interminable repair routine, the drive mounted and everything seemed to be running ok. Usually these things continue to be ok. It is absurd to have a disk array with redundant storage that you need to keep a backup of, but I guess that’s what’s happened here. I might mention here that I e-mailed Drobo for help and have not yet heard back from them 24-hours later. Their knowledgebase was similarly unhelpful.
Today when I got home, I plugged in my laptop as I usually do, but the Drobo did not mount. Fuck. The Drobo’s utility, Drobo Dashboard, reports that not only is my data intact on the drives, but that the drives themselves are just honky dory doin’ fine. Fucking cool, except the directory structure is so fucked that the Mac OS will no longer even see the partition on the drive. At least yesterday it saw the partition even if it failed to mount. The only times I’ve ever seen the hardware for the drive recognized in Disk Utility but not the partition has been when there is actually physical damage to the delicate platters that make up the drive. That is clearly not the case here. The drives themselves are fine; the software is fucked.
So, when the drive didn’t mount, I ran DiskWarrior again. It failed to scan the drive once, so I tried again and when it behaved the same way as before, I canceled it. Then I was greeted with this horrifying message.
Holy motherfucking fuck. Are you serious? Ok. This is new. Soooo maybe running DiskWarrior on a disk array with some crazy custom fucking file system bullshit going on in the background wasn’t a GREAT idea. Sue me. What would have done? That’s right—the exact same thing.
Now here I am, angry, confused, a little lonely, and at a total loss. I’ve got all my photos (important), the rough cut of my film (important, but less so), and all of my music (importantish) locked inside a drive array that just doesn’t want to play nice. I am going to go to TekServe tomorrow to buy the cheapest 1.5tb drive I can find and then I am going to run a data recovery program, Data Rescue, on the drive. I first encountered Data Rescue when I experienced my first hard drive catastrophe a few years ago when my 500gb LaCie drive got knocked over while it was performing some write operations. POOF! All of my data gone. Data Rescue was the only program even capable of SEEING the drive after that, but it did one better and actually showed me what was on the drive. Impressive. So I have high hopes that it will be able to rescue the data on Cthulhu that needs rescuing so that I can reformat the fucker and get to using it again, especially after downloading the demo, running the Quick Scan, and it revealing every single file on there. Good! It seems like the data are not corrupt, even if the directory structure has just taken a fierce one right in the ass.
I suspect that the problem is coming from the combination of MacDrive and WinXP. I had a problem almost EXACLTY like this with an old drive, but I was able to recover it because it wasn’t some fancy shmancy array. I think all this started the other night (duh) after Windows crashed and I had to force the shut down. Everything was beautiful until then. Since, things have only progressively descended into the flaming pit of hard drive hell. Fuck.
I will keep you updated on what becomes of this debacle.