Monday, June 16, 2008

Can a disk crash be a positive experience?

Can a disk crash be a positive experience? One day in early June the hard disk on my Black MacBook crashed. It returns from repair tomorrow after less than a week and only two days out of my possession. My lost time in the 5 days so far is not more than one hour. I didn't even realize it crashed for 10 minutes of computer use. Before I upgraded to OSX 10.5 Leopard people recommended to buy an external drive and install a working 10.4 system and move the entire disk content to it using Carbon Copy or its successor. I bought a tiny La Cie 160 GB firewire disk; firewire only because my Mac's firewire plug sits idle while the 2 USBs are overloaded. Doing this gave me a disk that will start my Mac and other and has all my files, system, and the system preference I chose as of April 17, 2008. So when poor Mac froze on my birthday June 9 and I powered down to restart it restarted to 10.4 and 4/17/08 files without asking. I saw one clue so subtle it went past me. Not having noticed, I went about my routine. Then when Google Earth was the active application I hit propeller H to hide it, but nothing happened. Tried again. Looked at the upper-right corner of the screen to change Spaces work space, whatever it's called. But the number on black background was missing. What? Could it be? I am looking at the screen of a Mac running 10.4, not 10.5! How could that be? Uh.... The internal hard disk symbol is missing in the desktop. * * It's running on the La Cie drive! I decided on a few temporary work rules - I created a folder named today's date; only store files there. - Don't synch iPod, because it has current information and that would move it back 2 months. - Create a file to contain names of folders and files changed or to check to see if they have. Total time lost so far - around 20 minutes. The additional time was just "Remember, I can't save this in the regular space" 10 times a day for 5 days. A Routine repair. I made one trip to the Apple store with an appointment, so no time waster. I got to keep Mac until the part arrived. It will be in the shop for two days if I get it back today. And during those two days I attached La Cie to our daughter's white Macbook and didn't lose a step. Couldn't I restore my files backed up by Time Machine? If the interruption were longer, or stopped my work, or Mac was toast I could have restored from my latest Time Machine back up and continued with 6/9/08 data. I didn't investigate how, since I didn't need to. I am sure it would have required doing the restoration on another disk. I call this a positive experience because learning how safe I am has more value than the 59 minutes I lost. Update:
My recovery time was about the same plus an hour because I didn't search hard enough for the required menu selection, which took about an hours.
The only error I found resulting from the recovery - knock on wood - was transitional. Mail on first starting said it was doing an automatic import... 4,000, 9,000, 14,000, CRASH. After this happened 3 times I did a work around. I restarted to 10.4 for mail; to 10.5 for everything else. I set up some temporary files to help me remember what was needed from the other OS. And I had distinctive background colors to help me remember where I was. Then after 3 or 4 days, when I set about to research the problem and chase down the solution, I tried Mail in 10.5 and it worked. End of recovery.

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