Faust had it easy

| If Goethe had really wanted to put Faust in a bind, he would have given him a computer. There are few things so seductive as the power of modern technology, and nothing more certain to make your life miserable.

Rule #1: Computers fail
Rule #2: You only think you're prepared

On October 20, my router failed. Or, to be more precise, my router partially failed. Unfortunately, the part that failed was the part that lets my computers access the internet. They could still talk to each other, but that's cold comfort if you can't connect to your email, your favorite news site, your daily fix of YouTube or whatever.

So, on October 20, I took the cable that normally goes from the modem to the router and plugged it into my laptop instead. And then I went online to order a new router. Some things would be inconvenient — like updating my websites and printing, to name two — but I could get by for a few days until the new router arrived.

True enough, my automatic backups would be disrupted, since the laptop could no longer talk to the back-up file server, but it will only be for a few days....

Sunday, October 25, I dropped by Bob's after brunch to help him finish setting up his new laptop, new printer, and new router, as well as try to figure out why his Outlook Express would no longer run.

No good deed goes unpunished. When I returned home that evening, my own laptop had frozen up, completely unresponsive. I forced it to power off and tried to reboot. Nothing.

Monday, I tried everything I could think of to get it going again, including booting from the original Windows Vista DVD. Nope. Would not start.

After several hours of running pre-boot diagnostics, I determined that one block on the hard drive — #302585009 to be specific — had failed and that Vista, in its infinite wisdom, is designed not to start if it finds a fault on any disk on the computer. Argh!

Plan B: Buy a new hard drive and re-install the operating system and drivers from the recovery disks. But, when I checked the prices of a new hard drive of the size I wanted, it was still going to be a substantial fraction of the price of a brand new laptop, inasmuch as new computers are on sale with Windows 7. After checking the prices, I found I could get a really sweet deal from Best Buy, so I whipped out the credit card. Hey, Obama wants us to help get the economy moving again, right?

By Tuesday, I was back up with a new router and a new laptop. Wonderful, yes? No. In the interval between the router failure and the laptop failure I had worked on some crucial HOA business and then there were the days of missing financial data as well. More argh!

I took the drive from the dead laptop to a computer shop nearby thinking they could probably just suck the data off it and burn it to a DVD for me. This was not a massive disk failure, after all, it was just block #302585009. It would be $30 to "diagnose" the problem (which I had already done) and then another $100+ to recover the data. Just who do you think you're talking to, some techno-ignoramus?

USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Combo Adapter — as my mama used to say, "There's more than one way to skin a cat"

I came home and considered what to do. If I could just mount that disk.... At Cyberguys I found just the gadget I needed, a USB to IDE/SATA adapter. It came earlier this afternoon. I took it out of the box, plugged in the drive from the dead Dell — and for good measure plugged in the drive from the dead HP Pavilion at the same time — and plugged the adapter into a USB port. "Windows has found new hardware..." Within a couple of minutes, I was looking at the complete contents of both hard drives. All I had to do was drag and drop directories. All data recovered. $130 indeed!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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