If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Oh no, not another dilemma ...

... you must be getting sick of them, ho ho.

The netbook hard drive is dead.  A dodo is alive and well, and in training for an Olympic event, in comparison.  I bought an 'enclosure', which lets me connect the netbook drive to another computer as an external drive, and I have found that my Lidl laptop doesn't even recognise that a drive is there.  Apparently, after much Googling, it seems that either the drive controller is toast or, worse, that the drive itself is damaged and beyond simple surgery.  Either way, to get my data back would involve sending the drive off to a data recovery outfit and paying about £300 and upwards to get the files back.

What have I lost?  About 6 months' worth of photographs.  A record of my weight loss since 1 January.  All the maintenance and fuel records of the bikes.  Microsoft Money files that I had painfully brought up to date after a period of financial neglect.  Backups of this blog.  Nothing earth-shattering or life-changing.  Just a fucking nuisance.  So data recovery is out.  The drive is going in the bin.  But what to do now?

Option 1: the Lidl laptop
It's actually quite a decent machine.  It's still host to some unpleasant scripts (which is why I got the netbook in the first place) which make its behaviour erratic, but as a piece of hardware I can't complain.  Screen's good, keyboard's good, internal stuff seems robust.  Option to back it all up, and then re-install Vista from scratch and carry on.  Cost?  If I can find the original Vista disk, nothing, but that's a major uncertainty.  I've had a complete clearout of the room that had all the computer stuff, and I can't remember seeing it.  So, let's say £60 for a new installation disk.  On a 3-year-old laptop that has wear marks where my wrists have been and a duff battery that means it is mains power or nothing.

Option 2: Resurrect the Netbook
Again, nothing wrong with the hardware.  The screen's covered in spots (do I cough that badly? Jeez) and the keyboard has crumbs under the keys, but nothing that a screen wipe and a vacuum attachment can't sort out.  New drive, £60.  Have an XP disk, so nothing for software, assuming I can get it to load (yes, I have invested in a USB CD drive).  Upside - very portable, neat little machine that performs way above what it looks as if it can do.  Holidays, bike trips, pop it in a tankbag and you have the internet anywhere there is a wifi hotspot.  Battery life is awesome - 6-7 hours at the last count.  Metallic blue cover looks pretty good too.  Downside - I don't think I ever used it where I could not have taken a full-size laptop quite easily.  And I got really fed up of looking at the World Wide Wait through that letterbox of a screen.  And the wifi card was really poor - signal 'very low' even within sight of the router.  And the keyboard was tiny, and most of my typing time was spent back-deleting errors because my man-size fingers couldn't cope with the My First Computer key spacing.

Option 3: Lash out on a New Laptop
Cost £250 and upwards.  Windows 7, speed, modernity, pleasure of a new toy.

Decisons, decisions.  I have actually found an OEM Vista disk (thanks, Anna), so Option 1 is becoming more realistic (especially in view of the forthcoming France trip and the previous post regarding reduced pay).  But your thoughts, as ever, would be welcome.

Incidentally, huge thanks to commenter Ripper, who has been extremely helpful in talking me through the diagnostics on the dead hard drive and the mechanics of resurrecting the machine.  Cheers, mate, much appreciated.


  1. I am amazed that the number of people that do not keep a backup of their files; especially stuff they do mot want to lose. (Physical memory is cheap nowadays ... you can get a TB for less than £70 .. more than enough storage .. simply buy one large desktop server (for home) and a small laptop external drive for carrying about ... keep all your important files on the external (carry about) and back it up to the home (permanent sever) ... It is way less expensive than recovery or the hassle of even trying ... Also keep an image of your laptop build on it. Once you have installed WIN7 plus all your applications and updates ,, image your machine .. then if you have any issues you can simply rebuild it without having to install everything separately .. get a geek mate tp do it for you ...

  2. Nothing there I haven't already said to myself in the last 48 hours ...

  3. Or
    option 4 - use the xp disk and put xp on the lidl laptop, what does vista do that xp doesn't?
    option 5 - put linux on the laptop
    option 7 - while you still can download vista from pirate bay, you have a legit licence and can use your legit reg number that will be stuck on the laptop case sticker so it's not even a moral issue - it's the number you are buying not the install disk when you buy a copy.

  4. How wierd, 6 went awol! - see if the laptop disk will act as a replacement in the netbook

  5. Lean towards a reliable Net connection with wifi or Ethernet, and make use of free cloud storage (Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, whatever) to mirror the files you care about. This makes the next laptop death far less traumatic.

  6. Woodsy42 - some ideas worth thinking about, thanks. What does Vista have that XP doesn't? Well, a simple backup routine for a start :) With the laptop and Vista, I was backing p every few days. One click, once it's set up. With XP, I got lazy. I now have a legit Vista install disk, so once I get the laptop fully backed up and ready I will do a reinstall.

    Hopper - cloud storage is possible, but with the slow and flaky connection we have here (constantly dropping out, maximum u/l line speed about 80-100kb) it's not the easiest option. I prefer doing generational copies to multiple hard drives onsite. Quicker and more reliable - but I might use Dropbox as an addition for the critical stuff, thanks.

    By the way, everybody - there is no need to castigate me for failing to back things up. I am normally meticulous about things like that. I just got lazy and over-confident in the technology - not a hanging offence :) Yes, I am stupid.

  7. Option 4: get modern. Apply for a credit card in the name of the Bonkers Dog (there are lots of weirder names out there), toddle down to PC World, buy Bonkers Dog a top of the range laptop, ask Bonkers Dog if you can borrow laptop when he is not using it.

  8. Fuck Windows, try Ubuntu.

  9. I'd vote for the new laptop option, as it sounds like neither of the current devices is really suitable for your needs, or worth spending any money on. Just over £200 for a reasonable spec seller/manufacturer refurbished Windows 7 model with warranty on eBay...
    As there are financial considerations involved, the Lidl lappie sounds like a reasonable interim measure, but I wouldn't advise putting Vista on it. It's a horrible, bloated, resource-hungry abortion of an OS...you'd be better off sticking with XP. If you just want a quick and easy backup option for that, I can script one for you to run manually or on Task Scheduler. Likewise, if the current installation needs a clean and decoke, happy to suggest some tools and methods.

  10. Treat yourself to a new laptop, you only live once.

    And steer well clear of cloud storage...

  11. Sorry, wasn't ignoring you! I got a bit behind on my comments. Endo, very kind offer, and I agree about Vista. It has the controls screwed down so tight that sometimes you can't even delete a file that you created yourself. I was happy with XP on the netbook (and use it at work all the time).


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