The click of death

Last Tuesday I went to bed and I left my laptop on, as I often do. They say that they live longer if you don’t keep switching them on and off all the time, because circuit boards and other components suffer badly from thermal stress. I am not sure if this has a noticeable effect on the life of a computer, but anyway, my poor old laptop takes soooo long to boot up and open a session that I usually leave it on all night.

Next morning I found it with a blank (i.e. black) screen and the dreaded message “No boot device can be found”. First thought: “it has rebooted”. Second thought: “and it cannot start”. I press the power switch to turn it off, wait 5 seconds (they say you need to wait for the capacitors to discharge ;-)) and switch it on again. Dell logo, first boot messages, and click, click, click, click, click

The hard disk was clicking. The click of death, as they say. Clicking noises inside a hard disk only mean one thing: there is something mechanical going wrong. I could visualise the disk heads landing on the platters and leaving a trailing trench and lots of nasty particles scattered all over the place. My precious data!

Backups? Yes, of course I do backups. But not every day. I would back up my data every day in a production environment, but for my home stuff I considered that weekly backups were enough. I have been thinking about buying some kind of low-cost NAS device for a few months, because doing backups to DVDs is a pain. I even considered buying a DAT tape unit, but they are expensive. So my backup policy at that glorious morning when my hard disk crashed was, more or less, weekly backups to DVD.

That was the policy. The crude reality was other. My last backup, which I hastily recovered from the cupboard, was dated on the 15th of May. Almost one month of lost work. Yes, I know this is my home laptop, but I do a lot of .NET development (mostly experiments and nerdy stuff), writing and emailing. Damn.

So I sat down, grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen and outlined my disaster recovery plan. Two steps: first, send the broken hard disk to a data recovery service place; second, get a new hard disk. Wait a moment. My laptop is already 4 years old, and even with a new hard disk it would not be much faster. So, why not make of this disaster a perfect excuse to buy a dazzling new machine?

After some minutes googling around, I decide on dtidata, a data recovery company that looks good. They say they don’t charge you a cent if they don’t get your data back, which looks reasonable to me. On getting a new machine, I spend five seconds pondering the possibility of buying a MacBook Pro and then jump straight into the Dell configurator. I’ve always been curious about the Precision mobile workstations, or whatever they are called. They are sexy little beasts. Well, not that little, since the Precision M90, the one I fancy, starts from 3.8 kg. But the 17-inch screen and the 2-GB RAM well deserve it.

I have shipped my broken hard disk, conveniently wrapped in bubble plastic (they call it “packed air”), and I have ordered a Precision M90. I only hope they can recover my data.


2 Responses to “The click of death”

  1. 1 Nick 19 June 2006 at 12:46

    Please accept my condolences for your laptop.
    I suggest giving it a burial worthy of a Visigoth Chieftan. 🙂

  1. 1 Digital glitz « Nothing Ever Happens 2 Trackback on 9 August 2008 at 19:04

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