Hard To Take, Hard To Swallow & Even Harder To Accept – The Death Of A Hard-drive

/November 15, 2014
When a hard-drive dies, the world is one bleak, truly malevolent place. That moment when you realise all your data is lost is truly sickening, and positively gut wrenching – all those mixes, all those overdubs! It’s a bit like being bitten by a king brown snake or a great white shark. Actually it’s worse. At least in those other circumstances you’re typically put out of your misery during the incident.

At least that’s how it felt recently when this happened to me. A 1-Terabyte Samsung hard-drive decided to give up the ghost for no good reason one morning as I started work in the studio, and salvaging the data off it cost me over 1700 bucks. Worse, there was no guarantee going into the procedure that, after spending this large wad of cash, I would have anything to show for it! And all because my backup methodology was found wanting in the most improbable of circumstances… two additional backups both turned into pumpkins and somehow I was left with nothing.

With a dose of good luck this untimely event only ended up being a financially costly misadventure, rather than the more unconscionable musical disaster. The mind addling part of all of this was that the incident was so entirely avoidable. All I had to do was backup my data in a more methodical way. But here’s the thing; all this time I thought it had been.
The circumstances that led to this cruel juncture are pretty weird, freakish even…
Two weeks ago the lost information was on three drives, as per normal procedure. (My old friend Simon Leadley used to say: “If it’s not in three places, it’s nowhere!”).
One of these drives, a portable USB, travelled with me to Singapore, where I recently recorded what were effectively two albums worth of data.
Unfortunately the drive was too small to accommodate all these new songs, so to make room, I deleted two very large project folders.
When I returned to Australia I was somewhat disturbingly informed that the same information on a second drive was damaged apparently beyond repair when it hit the deck whilst spinning. ‘Right, well I’d better back this stuff up again hadn’t I’, I mumbled to myself.
So what happened next? The internal drive containing the information on my MacPro failed to boot-up and appear on the desktop!
‘Um, this can’t be happening…’ I thought to myself, as the blood from my head exited stage south.
Anyway, a week later and I now have a whole new procedure in place, with a further redundancy on the way – a five-bay RAID array. The horse has certainly bolted, but as it turns out I have only lost a relatively small amount of stuff – frankly it could have been far worse. Nearly all the data, barring a few days of overdubbing and mixing, was mercifully backed up on a fourth drive, so it’s a slightly less disastrous situation than first thought.
But the lesson is learnt. My desktop is now squeaky clean, everything has been extracted from every conceivable drive in the studio and backed up on two 2TB drives; one of which is stored in the house, the other in the studio.
What this incident so painfully illustrated to me was how easily precious work housed on hard-drives can unpredictably disappear up a drainpipe. One minute it’s all there scribed somewhat miraculously inside a shiny metal house brick, the next minute it is a house brick! From miracle to missile in no time flat.
So I implore all readers of this article: let my pain be your wakeup call. If you’ve neglected to back stuff up in the last day, or week (or worse), do so now please. Stop reading this article, walk calmly and quietly over to your rig and set a backup procedure running while nonchalantly whistling a ragged tune. Hopefully the backup will go smoothly and you’ll be sweet. I really can’t stress enough how bad you’ll feel if you end up where I was… up shit creek in a barbed wire kazoo.