The pre-emptive strike

I’ve launched a pre-emptive strike against my hard drive. I’ve pulled all the data off it and done a low level format on it before it died on me. Oh, make no mistake, it was in the process of kicking the bucket. Ever since I dived into the innards of my PC last week to install a new CD-ROM drive (one of those super-snazzy recordable/re-writable jobs), the hard drive started behaving in a decidedly dodgy way.

Maybe I shouldn’t have fired that burst of static electricity into it. Nah, just kidding. But perhaps I bumped it or something. Okay, so I admit at one point I did unplug and replug a few cables and the IDE cable to both hard drives went in the wrong way. Hey, it could happen to anyone! And the other drive didn’t complain.

After fixing that, everything seemed okay, but this one drive started playing up. A quick whiz with Scandisk revealed that bad sectors had started appearing. Then, even worse than that, evil clusters started appearing. These clusters were so nasty that they actually slowed Scandisk down to a snail’s pace.

Things were looking bad. Thankfully the new CD drive was happily working, and made it fairly easy to do a backup of my all-important data. Okay, so it’s nothing that would cause a world crisis if it all got zapped, but it wouldn’t be excessively convenient to lose it all, you know.

That done, I did what must be one of the most fun things you can do in the world of computing: I formatted the hard drive. I could just feel the PC quivering as I typed FORMAT D: and pressed Enter. It was probably thinking "Wow. Gosh, does he really mean that?"

Actually it didn’t work anyway – what I needed to do was a <deep voice> low level format <end deep voice>. This is serious stuff. A normal format is like vacuuming the carpet. A low level format is like vacuuming, steam cleaning, then ripping up the carpet and throwing it in the incinerator, then polishing the floorboards and going out and buying new carpet and laying it down instead.

It seemed to do the trick, and I’ve since re-installed Windows and most of the applications I use. <yawn> What a fun job that is. But such are the joys of computers. I’d rather make a pre-emptive strike like that than have the whole drive suddenly implode on me, leaving no trace of my e-mail, my writing, my company books, and of course my unrivalled collection of unfinished projects, and my installation of Visual J++ that I’ve never used…

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.