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CD Archiving 4: Adventures In Modern Mass Storage

Posted on | September 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm | 2 Comments

An essential part of my CD archiving adventure is not only having sufficient disk space to store the FLAC and MP3 files, but also enough space on a separate drive to store backups of them. Heaven forbid I should lose all the files in a hard drive crash and have to start all over again. Right before I embarked on this latest re-imagining of the project, one of the two USB 2.0 500GB external drives attached to my PC died. It was the one I was storing my backups on, so no big deal. Strangely, it was the newer of the two drives. (Note: My internal drive is 250GB and is nearly full.)

So I ditched that drive, a Fantom, and upgraded to a new Western Digital 1TB external USB drive. In fact, it was the 1TB version of the 500GB drive that was still working. I immediately started having problems with it. It came formatted FAT32, so I reformatted it to NTFS. After I did that, then my PC refused to boot while the new drive was attached. It wouldn’t even make it into Windows – it would stall at the boot screen. That didn’t make any sense to me that the drive would be the problem, since I didn’t have that issue when the old Fantom drive was attached, and this was just replacing that one. I researched the problem and there was a lot of info on the WD site and elsewhere about USB 2.0 legacy support in the PC BIOS causing the USB drive to look like the boot drive and stuff like that, but none of the applicable setting were in my BIOS. So I just learned to unplug the drive whenever I wanted to reboot the PC.

But then it started acting even weirder. One day, Windows kept losing connection with it and then getting it back, which was highly annoying. And then once, it looked like Windows actually tried to install a Windows update to that drive instead of to the internal drive. I had enough. It was still within the 30 day return period so I sent it back to the online retailer for replacement. However, they were all out of that model so they refunded my money and I ended up getting a 1.5TB Iomega drive from a different retailer, for not much more money than the 1TB drive.

The Iomega drive already came formatted NTFS. I hooked it up and then tried to reboot the computer. It wouldn’t boot. I had to turn the drive off (this one actually has a power switch, which helps) and then boot the PC again. That worked. So I’m thinking “WTF?”. It can’t be the drive if the same thing happened with two different sized drives from two different manufacturers. (Although for all I know, the actual drive inside the cases could’ve made by the same company.) So I’m thinking the problem is with the PC after all.

At least the manual that came with the Iomega actually addressed the issue in its Troubleshooting section under “What can I do if my computer will not boot with an Iomega USB drive attached?” Answer: “If the capacity of your Iomega drive is larger than 500GB, the BIOS on the computer probably has a conflict with large capacity removable drives. To work around this problem, power off the drive before starting the computer. Power on the drive after the computer finishes starting up. Or, if your drive and computer supports it, you can connect the drive to the computer’s FireWire port.”

(Too bad I didn’t get a drive with FireWire support. Although I used to have one (another WD), but it died.)

Well, that explanation kind of makes sense. It would explain why the 500GB Fantom drive worked okay and the 1TB and 1.5TB drives don’t. But I love how the solution is “Power off the drive before starting the computer.” Sheesh. You can’t come up with anything better than that? Guess I better check and see if there’s a BIOS update for my PC…

I guess I’m not surprised that it’s the computer’s problem. The PC is Pentium 4 HP Pavilion desktop that’s over four years old. I really do need a new PC to properly attend to this archiving business. I’m definitely pushing the limit of its resources with this project. So, add “new PC” to my list of things I need to upgrade.

Oh, and even the whopping 1.5TB is going to be cutting it awfully close with the amount of FLAC and MP3 files I’ll end up with. My estimates put it right around 1.3 to 1.4TB. Which means I’ll need another drive the same size or bigger for backups. But at the rate this project is going, I figure I have plenty of time to buy bigger drives (and a faster PC). Those 2TB drives are getting cheaper all the time…


Pet Peeve of the Day: We bought a bag of pistachios on sale, and there seem to be a lot of empty shells in there with no nut inside. I don’t like paying for shells, even if they’re on sale.

Odd Search Term Of The Day That Led To This Blog: “do you feel taller with progressive lens”.

Videogame(s) Played Since Last Blog Update: None, though I just got Batman: Arkham Aslyum (PS3 version) for my birthday and am looking forward to starting it.


2 Responses to “CD Archiving 4: Adventures In Modern Mass Storage”

  1. DMR
    September 17th, 2009 @ 11:15 am

    Check out Drobo: http://www.drobo.com/

  2. ifahey
    September 17th, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

    happy birthday wench! from one albeit better virgo to another. : ) xxxx

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