Friday, March 19, 2010


My hard drive is failing.

You all know the tale of the computer I bought last February and brought to Mexico with me -- only to watch it die a briny death with its exposure to the sea at the beach house. 

There was no Lazarus option for it.  So, off to the junk pile it went.

In January I purchased a new computer and brought it to my new house where we are sheltered from the sea spray.  Or so I thought.

For a couple of weeks, I have been getting strange warnings every time I boot up.  On Saturday, it refused to boot until after a dozen tries.  I have not shut it off since.

Being a good computer user, I have a backup drive.  However, my files had not been backed up for three days -- and there was some important material there.  So, I tried to back up those three days of data.

The computer would have none of it -- declaring my drive to be as corrupt as an Illinois governor.

On Monday I drove down to Manzanillo to purchase an external hard drive. 

I thought another source might trick the computer into transferring the files as a back up.  No dice.  Instead, I have now transferred my major data files to the hard drive manually.

But I cannot turn off this computer.  If I do, I will most likely not be able to get it to reboot.

That is not a major problem.  I am returning to The States in late April.  The computer is still under warranty.  I can take it back to Best Buy for one of their lengthy service checks.

The trick will be keeping it running that long without Windows having one of its "I'm-too-tired" fits and shutting down on its own.  Or running out of battery power on my trip to Puerto Vallarta this week.

If anyone has a better idea, now is the time to step to the front of the class.


Calypso said...

I Have had luck turning the computer over and operating it upside down. I know this sounds a little crazy but it has worked more often than not with a balky drive.

Keep in mind if it works - get your files and don't expect it to keep on working forever more ;-)

Good Luck Amigo

Jeff Harrell said...

These ideas are more for the long term than your current dilemma. Storage on local drives in your environment will always be a challenge. So, you have to find a way to easily store or backup offsite.

There are several options for automated online backup solutions that can be scheduled to update new/changed files regularly, but you'll need Internet access when they run.

Another option would be to setup a small network with a storage device such as a Buffalo Terastation in a controlled environment. A Terastation is similar to an external USB drive, but has multiple drives, which ensures that if one drive fails, your data is still accessible until your replace the failed drive. Once you have that setup, you can connect to the device wirelessly using a net book to access your files. Net books have limited computing power, but are also quite inexpensive ($200-$300 US).

You can't change your environment, so you might as well minimize the cost of the PC you inevitably sacrifice to the salt spray.

Oh, and one more thing. Another blog for your list from my friends Paul and Robyn:


Paul and Robyn said...

I sent your blog to our company IT guy (Jeff) and I hope he gets in touch with you. He is a really goof IT guy and I am sure he will be able to help you.
Good luck and I hope it works out.

Tulum Living said...

Lucky timing about heading to the states at least. I am sorry to hear about your computer. The beaches of Mexico do not like electronics.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

A couple of thoughts Steve:
You can back up on this site for either no money or very little if you have a lot to back up.
Why not take it to a local computer guru for a diagnosis, might be a virus, power supply etc.
Sparky is there for a few days, find him probably at Shoe's or at his property, he might have ideas or advice for you.
Good luck!

Rick said...

Online backup is now easy and automatic for about $50/year.

Also the Panasonic Toughbook should keep on ticking.

Quote: (unknown source)
"For testing purposes the Panasonic Toughbook has been put through extreme temperatures, being both lit on fire and frozen, fully submerged in water, and dropped from extreme heights. The end result of these experiments has always been the same, the laptop survives".

1st Mate said...

I have two Macs I've been using at my house a block from the bay for five years now, still no problem. (Now watch: because I'm bragging, one of them will probably go on the fritz.)

But if you're dedicated to PCs, the online backup sounds like a good idea. And if you can submerge that Panasonic in water, you should be able to keep it alive in a beach house.

JRinSC said...

I have used an online backup service called for over a year now and had to use it twice. Works like a champ -- but like others have said, you need good a internet connection because it backs up in the background when you are not using the bandwidth.

Good luck!

Steve Cotton said...

I thank all of you for your comments. I have posted responses twice now, but the internet in the hospital dropped them. I am a bit too groggy to try a third time.

Sorry. I believe people who comment deserve a response.

Islagringo said...

My response is going to be too long. Sending an email instead.