200 gigabytes go bye bye.

Well that was an interesting week, wasn't it.
After attending the Microsoft-McGhee Productivity event mentioned
here, I came hope and tapped my laptop's keys to get back to work. Nothing happened.
With a sigh and appropriately rolled eyes, I powered down and restarted. Still nothing, just the dreaded flashing question mark.
Okay then, next steps, boot from the system DVD to try to narrow down the issue.
Ah, a successful boot, the computer itself appears to be working, but where's the hard drive?

Next up at bat, a bootable hard drive with
TechTool on it. Nothing.
Ohhhkkkayyy then. Take the hard drive out and mount it to an external hard drive case to see what's up.
This is my first inkling that something is desperately wrong here. The 2.5" drive doesn't make the clatter that its full-sized brethren do when the drive head (think of the arm of an old record player) crashes into the disk platters that your data is stored on (think of that hideous scratching, tearing sound you hear when that record player arm drags across your prized album).

This sound is more like a prolonged skittering, as if a hard shelled bug is trying desperately to get out of the shiny metal case. This is absolutely no good.
Plan C then. Take by backup external SATA drive and put that into the Mac and install a new system to get back up and running.
Cut to two hours of copying later. Nothing's happening. The copy job is stalled and grayed out; nothing is responding. NO. NO. NO.
Abandon everything and go to sleep.

Wake up in a nervous haze, stumble downstairs and try everything again. Nothing works. Well, the computer does, but it's pretty useless without a hard drive.
Drop the backup drive off at
F1, a local Apple Authorised dealer to see if they can make sense of a drive that seems to have forgotten what it's capable of storing and buy a new SATA drive to get this stumbling show back on the road.
Five hours later, I have a functioning Mac again with almost everything I had before.

But here's the difference. Every backup strategy is a triage if you don't completely clone your hard disk. For me, that's a bit of a challenge. I have huge data storage needs, and my working disk is 200GB that's usually 70 percent full.
If you're anything like me, you choose the stuff you can't live without in exchange for having more space on the destination drive for incremental updates. I, for instance, don't worry about applications. Most don't work properly when you just try to copy them back into place, so I archive their installers (almost all of my software is downloaded directly from the vendors) rather than their installations.
So even on a reasonably successful restoration like this one, you find out just how much cruft,
Bacn, as its called these days that you've (and my you, I mean me) been keeping that you need to get to, one of these days that you never actually did.

Some of it was material that I used sporadically, like my iTunes library and some music that I'd been meaning to backup and will now have to rip again from my CDs. Most of the music was on my iPod, so I grabbed
Senuti to drop it on the disk to sort through.
It appears that there was more than 50GB of stuff like that caked to the walls of my hard drive, and I can't even remember what most of it was.
Less useful than that inadvertent house cleaning was the data that slipped between the cracks of my last backup, three days before. I hadn't been amazingly productive over that time, but I did have to bring my Rapidweaver file up to date by going to my website to copy and paste stuff back into the file. I also asked a few people to send me e-mails again and copy me on documents I'd sent and since lost.

The biggest terror was resurrecting a Divali shoot that had since been partly overwritten on the original memory card using
Rescue Pro. Got most of that back too, enough to be content if not esctatic.
The great irony of all this is that all this happened on the same day that Chris Laird
wrote to me to extol the praises of Leopard's new Time Machine.
And people say these things don't have a mind of their own.
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