Happy New Year?

Yesterday was Lunar New Year’s Eve. I spent the early part of the evening wishing HWMBO in Singapore, along with my many friends out there, a happy and prosperous New Year. Then everything collapsed.

My system was comprised of a desktop computer, currently usable in safe mode but not otherwise, a network storage box, and various other components. I was composing an email to a friend last night when the email program crashed. A bit of investigation showed me that something was wrong with the power supply to the network storage box, and it had fried the disks inside. On those disks were backups, but, more important, my email archives and the active part of my email system were stored on it. All fried.

Now I can recover all emails before January 7th, as they are still on the desktop computer. I am having some difficulty transferring them to the netbook, and will investigate this further later on today. But this incident highlights some issues in life that I have had difficulties with in the past.

First, I keep all emails. Does this matter? I decided last night, after a bit of swearing, that it doesn’t. I would not be happy to lose all the past emails, but losing at most one month’s worth out of the past 14 years will not kill me. I’ve gone through the emails I have still on the mail servers up in the cloud, and stopped emails from groups that I don’t need to get and unsubscribed from a few sales email lists that I never intend to buy from. I shall leave all the emails up on the cloud until I have a working copy of Thunderbird with my previous emails on it. And life will go on.

Second, what’s important in my life? Not keeping emails, that’s for sure. It’s making sure that my health is stable, that my feet recover, that HWMBO remains the most important person in my life, and keeping the spiritual side of my life in my mind, heart, and actions. Keeping emails helps none of these things in particular. My life will go on (or not) independent of whether I am saving (or even getting) emails.

So now I can rationally and slowly figure out what to do here. I think that what is necessary is some sort of daily DVD-RW backup of the email database so that it can easily be reconstructed should my netbook go down. I don’t think that NAS is necessarily the best solution, especially with flaky power supplies that depend on wall warts rather than internals.

I shall be searching teh Intarwebz this afternoon for specific guidance on moving Thunderbird email databases from one machine to another; I didn’t seem to be able to do it last night but it could just have been nervousness. Now that I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee and a bagel, I’m better equipped to face the problem. I also need to migrate my iTunes to the netbook short-term, and to a new computer when that happens.

Long term, one of HWMBO’s and my friends in Singapore offered to construct a computer for HWMBO to bring back with him. It must be a compact one, but I hope that it will be stable and, if so, be a way back to relative eventlessness in my personal computing.

Ho hum, now to concentrate on the foot clinic visit today.

2 Responses to “Happy New Year?”

  1. cubziz says:

    Here’s what I’d recommend.

    1) What kind of Network storage box was this? The drives (assuming they weren’t a raid array) should be able to be put into another box and read. If they were a raid, you should be able to get the same type of box by the same company and drop the drives in, and have it work. At the very least, see if you can use a USB->IDE/SATA adapter and see any of the data.

    2) A NAS is probably your best bet regardless. I’d heard great things about DROBO’s being horribly easy to use. You can also just use an old PC and put a card that can do RAID into it. Yes, if the computer crashes, you may have some downtime. But it isn’t completely gone.

    3) The power issues can be solved with a UPS. Yes, you will have to replace a UPS every 18 months or so as the battery will go dead. But it’ll help immensely.

    4) Do NOT do anything involving just one drive with all your backups. That is never good. 🙁 You can have TWO single drives that you manually copy, but that’s a pain in the ass.

    5) I’ve heard good things about “Oops! Backup” (Link) I have not gotten it yet, but I have heard good things from a friend who is using it. It’ll back up to said NAS… or alternatively, to TWO drives if you wanted to be paranoid.

    6) If you are really paranoid, use one of the online backup services. I’ve heard Mozy raised it’s price, but Carbonite I’ve heard good things on.

    Personally, I have an old 1Ghz Athlon PC running Windows 2000 Server with 2.5 TB of data in a RAID 1 setup. I’ve got LOTS of ventilation and I have had to replace parts in it, namely power supplies and fans, about once every other year. But it’s survived almost 6 years now. (The system itself is over 10.)

    Just a long winded recommendation. *HUG*

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    Unfortunately, whatever happened to the power supply (I don’t think it was a spike; I think something bad happened inside it but I don’t think forensics helps now…) sent enough juice to the drives so that the motors actually burned out; you could smell them. I have decided to be philosophical about this; losing a month’s worth of email is small beer compared to things that are happening out in the world now and I do not feel that I should spend lots of time trying to recover them. I haven’t lost anything major as the desktop is still working and all its data is still there. Being sanguine about these things really helps. Years ago I would have been swearing up a blue streak but I think that age does indeed make you think about the important things rather than little glitches like this.

    Any solution I come up with also has to be affordable, as (until November 2014, when I’ll be 62 and able to start getting Social Security) I’ll probably have little or no income, and I hesitate to spend lots of money while HWMBO is the sole breadwinner.

    Thanks for your advice; I’m going to mull stuff over and get a solution that will work fairly reliably. I will keep LJ informed about my thinking and progress as I go along.

    Hugs to you, too!