external hard disk

All of a sudden the mba stopped recognising the external hard disk. The connection had been loose for a while: I had to fiddle with the cable but I thought I’d be all right for a while.

I took it to the computer repair shop. The lady there was very efficient, she took one look and gave it to one of the technicians to test. If it’s just the power supply / casing, then they will change it for me. If the hard disk itself is corrupted, then it’s a lot more expensive to recover data. Overall more expensive than I thought. Changing the casing is local $500 (USD65), data recovery starts at local $2000 (USD250). And recovery isn’t guaranteed.

The hard disk itself didn’t sound like it’s corrupted so at the back of my mind, it needs a new power supply. Confirmed by the technician, who took it out of the casing and was able to read it on one of their macs.

Now the question was, do I pay for a new casing or abandon the drive? Is the data inside very important? Arguable. With one exception, original files are easily accessed elsewhere:

  • personal documents, letters: backup from mba
  • photos: mba and flickr
  • writing & design: that’s the bulk of the most important stuff, already in mba and backed up in dropbox, google docs and flashdrive
  • ebook purchases: mba, dropbox and obviously ipad
  • website: worst case scenario can restore from ISP, they take backups every 12 or 24hrs
  • travel notes and expenses: backup from mba, recent notes in evernote

The only files that aren’t in the mba and not backed up anywhere else are itunes files. I have over 10,000 songs, plus some videos and podcasts. I’m not worried about videos and podcasts, it’s the music that is the issue. Like most early ipod owners the music library was initially built by ripping CDs. I have about 90% of those CDs but can’t imagine ripping them again, especially since I’ll either have to use the old mbp or buy an external DVD drive. Later music were from limewire (hangs head) then amazon or legitimate free sites like noisetrade.

Anyway, tl;dr: too much effort to rebuild music library. So I opted to pay for the casing.


I went and got another external hard disk immediately afterwards. The ironic thing is, a new 1TB drive cost 20% less than a new casing for the old drive. Spent a few hours copying files back and forth. Now I have a backup and a backup of the backup.