A Linux Hard Drive Crash In The Age Of The Cloud

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 02/27/2012

The hard drive of my Commodore C64x irrecoverably crashed today. There was an office move on Friday, and I wasn’t there to babysit my hardware, so you take your risk and pay the price. I had all my important data on Dropbox, and replicated across lie 4 other machines, so no lost data. And it was only a 160GB drive, tiny by today’s standards, so I ran to J&R (I work in downtown NYC—woot!) to get a replacement, and lo-and-behold, there’s a shortage of internal SATA laptop drives. Who would have guessed?

Anyway, they told me some people were buying external drives, tearing out the drive and using those. Well it turns out that an external 750TB laptop drive is only $99, so determined to fix this today, I bought one and pried it open with screwdrivers. The case was amazingly just a tension-fit—a very tight one—but a tension-fit none-the-less. I threw caution to the wind and just pried it out after opening the box. I only had a out an hour before the day was out, and I consistently run home to my wife and 15-month old baby.

It took me 5 min to pry out the drive, 1 min to pop open the C64x, another 2 min to figure out how the drive was mounted, and another two minutes to swap the new drive in. While nobody welcomes a hard drive crash, I have to say that the combination of Dropbox document storage, and a machine that’s easy to open and swap out parts made it as close to a pleasure as could be.

The twist of the hard drive shortage almost phased me, but the amazing J&R employees plunged into a discussion of which drive manufacturers modify their drives for external cases and which don’t. Sure, I could have gone to a Staples and found some still in stock, but these über-geek salesmen sized up my dilemma in a moment, joked about the shortage, and confidently guided me towards a solution that had me in business right away with as little extra money for the external casing as possible.

After 6 months with Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 with Unity, I decided that maybe it was time to try Mint, but now I had less than an hour before cutting out, and no Mint ISO, and an untested drive just installed to boot (literally). So, I took the original 11.04 install media provided by Commodore, and just did the install. The new drive was fine. The install went well, and I hit the update OS button in update manager, saw the 35 minute estimate and went home for the night. I’m going to stick with Ubuntu Unity a bit longer. Shuttleworth seems a kindred spirit in my hatred of steering through menus, and I can’t wait for their version of Mac Spotlight—but for program menus!

In the morning, I’m going to install Dropbox, Remmia (my favorite Linux remote desktop client), Google Chrome, Gimp, Inkscape & Blender, and I’ll be in business. Chrome auto-syncs all my bookmarks and gives me office software via Google Docs. By graphics files will all flow back onto my machine via Dropbox. The finishing touches will be some custom Ubuntu .desktop files that provide custom app launcher icons and sub-options. And in the end, those custom app icons and 1-line scripts is all the data I lost.