Who Do You Call?

Matt Steinhoff FiremanWho do you call when your computer crashes and burns a couple of days before you are supposed to take off on a road trip? Kids Matt and Adam, of course.

After I had tried everything I knew how to do, I initiated Plan C, which was to haul the machine up to Kid Matt because, as Kid Adam, dodging the bullet, pointed out, Matt’s the guy who built it and is most familiar with all the pieces/parts.

Two flaky drives

Matt called this afternoon to say that my operating system RAID must have had TWO bad drives because he was seeing corruption on what I thought was the good drive. He replaced both of them and restored them from backup. (Hint: when the system reports that you have 17 seconds left to completion, go out to dinner. It lies.)

Hit some Kryptonite

Matt Steinhoff Halloween 1979About an hour later, he called to say that he had run into a big snag: Acronis, the backup program I use, won’t write a file to a partition bigger than two terabytes. My data RAID was made up of four two-terabyte drives. Acronis wouldn’t even see them.

I had never run into this problem because I had never tried to restore everything at once. The few times I needed to go to a backup, it was just one or two files.

Plan D was for him to copy just a couple of the critical directories, then I would restore about 90 percent of the remaining data from a portable external drive I keep around “just in case.”

Backblaze is Plan E

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffJust this week I got an email from Backblaze, my cloud backup provider, saying that they would now be able to write your backups to up to a 4 terabyte external drive and send it to you overnight. (What they DIDN’T say was that for large quantities of data, it might take up to five days for them to copy it all TO the drive. Still, downloading it, even with a fast internet connection, would have taken about three months.)

So, I sent them my credit card number for a 4-terabyte drive containing 599,771 files and 3.296,468 terabytes of data. It cost $189.

That’s the reason you need to click on that Amazon link at the top of the page (or here) to keep me from holding up a cardboard “Will Work For Hard Drives” sign at the intersection. Amazon purchases you make through that link give me about a 6% kickback without costing you anything extra.

Here are two earlier stories I did about Backblaze.

 Plan F

Adam GeekIf Plans A, B, C, D and E didn’t work, I was ready to call in Kid Adam. He LOOKS like he could solve a computer problem if the firefighter and Superman struck out.


My RAID Failed

Graham-Elliot Steinhoff 07-17-2014_6554Things were starting to come together for my trip back home. I wrapped up the final revision of the Smelterville book, got a haircut, the van got an oil change and new rear shocks, we went out to say goodbye to Grandsons Graham and Elliot, and I made a lot of progress pulling together a video this morning. I even worked in a well-deserved nap after all that activity.

Then, I looked down at the corner of my computer screen and saw an unusual scary-looking alert message. I think this email to Computer Geek Sons Matt and Adam will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about my travails. Bottom Line: I’m out of business until the Geeks parachute in.


Computert guts 07-18-2014_6567Got an alert this afternoon that my RAID 1 array had gone critical. That’s my boot drive.

I confirmed that my overnight backup had run and copied a few files I knew had changed over to the Drobo. Then I created an Acronis boot disk.

I loaded up the AMD RAID utility and confirmed that it WAS RAID 1 that was sick. My RAID 5 data drives were fine.

I went to Best Buy and picked up a new drive, just in case.

I told the utility to rebuild the mirror. It would crank awhile, then the computer would reboot.

I pulled what I thought was the drive attached to Port 2, which I thought was the bad drive, then I booted up the computer. It booted fine (much faster than usual, in fact).

There’s no joy in Steinhoffville

I went into the utility and confirmed that the drive in Port 2 was gone.

I put the new drive in, and got an error message telling me to tell it where it should boot from.

I tried Ctrl-F, Esc and F8 to get to a window that would let me do that, but no joy.

I pulled the new drive. Same result. I put the old drive back in. Same result.

I put the Acronis boot disk in the drive. It booted up with a bunch of data dumps and got me to a screen asking if I wanted to recover my computer. Rather than take a chance on screwing something up, I turned off the machine and typed this message.

Matt is getting up a 4 a.m. to ride 130 miles, so I don’t think he’s going to be of much help on Saturday. I’m getting ready to leave town, so I need to get fixed as quickly as possible. Am I overlooking something simple?

Remember the big Amazon button

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffClick on the big red Amazon button when you order stuff online. That helps me keep feeding hard drives into my computer and it doesn’t add anything to your cost.