Home Improvements – Here endeth the lesson

For the story so far see Part 1 and Part 2. If you’re totally bored, then please don’t read on… this is the longest post yet!

So I got my Linksys NSLU2 home. I thought I’d fire it up and make sure it worked. There’d be nothing more frustrating than flashing it with the Linux OS, find it doesn’t work and then wonder whether the issue is with the new Firmware or the actual hardware.

Plugged it in, fired it up, plugged in and formatted a blank external drive I dug out of the cupboard. All good so far! I can’t plug in a disk with anything on it because the LinkSys requires disks to be formatted with EXT3.

Hmmm… what’s this… a firmware upgrade to the NSLU2 that allows it to read NTFS! That’d make the device usable until I get my head around the Linux options!

Loaded up the upgrade, all went smoothly. Plugged in my external hard drive to see if it works. Get “Drive not formatted” message in the NSLU2 admin screen, so it must not support NTFS after all. Oh well. Plugged the external drive back into my desktop PC.

“This disk is not formatted. Do you want to format it now? Yes/No”

My

heart

stopped.

An entire disk’s worth of data… gone. Video from when the kids were little, lots of photos… gone. I know what you’re all thinking… why wasn’t this data backed up? I have two responses to this. 1) It’s not that easy to back up a 14GB video file. 2) Part of the reason I was setting up this solution is to make automated backups more accessible!

Some have said that I shouldn’t have trusted the device with my data, but in my defence, it’s a shrink wrapped consumer device that’s designed to have drives plugged in to it. If I can’t trust this device with my data, I don’t have much use for it!

I kicked off a File Recovery scan and went to bed very sad.

In the morning, the file recovery had found a bunch of deleted files, but none of the files that were not deleted at the time of the corruption! I tried loading the drive up in a couple of EXT3 file viewers, but they couldn’t read the drive either.

I’d pretty much given up hope of getting my data back.

Then my neighbour nonchalantly suggests I try a partition table repair tool. I load one up and run it. It tells me “The partition table on the disk is incorrect. Would you like to fix it?” I click “Yes”. Bang. All my data is back!!!

Yay! Waves of relief! Not to mention proof that the Linksys had screwed up the disk. The partition table was written for an EXT3 disk, even though it was still formatted in NTFS.

Yesterday I took the Linksys back to Harris Technology and threw it at them as hard as I could. Actually I didn’t and they were incredibly helpful, giving me a full refund without any hassle.

So back to the drawing board. Now that I realise how precious that data is to me, I’m going to have to get a proper, RAID based network drive solution. More money 🙁 I’ll probably go for a Thecus N2100.

Lesson the First
Imagine losing all your data that is not backed up. How do you feel about that?

Lesson the Second
No, really. Losing it. Right now. Seriously, how do you feel about that?

Weigh your reaction to the above questions against the cost of getting dedicated backup.

Here endeth the lesson.

Update: I was talking to Josh last night and he said it wasn’t clear that I hadn’t installed the funky open source firmware on the LinkSys box yet. It was running the latest official firmware release. I probably also didn’t emphasize enough that I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying one of these pieces of junk

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8 thoughts on “Home Improvements – Here endeth the lesson

  1. Phil

    I use the Netgear SC101 and its not bad, lack of Vista drivers is a PITA but I recently saw this USB device and would love to get one, but they’re not scheduled for Australia for another year or so:

    http://www.drobo.com/

  2. Phil

    Backups? Wot be dat?

    Actually I use the mirroring in the SC101 and am getting a Thecus 2100 as soon as I can find one that is reasonably priced, but the drobo is my real want at the moment. Looks so easy, especially with a couple fo 500gb drives in 🙂

  3. Dave

    People –

    ONE backup copy is not enough.

    And your copy ought to be stored in a different location from your original.
    Flood, fire, theft or whatever will hurt the backups sitting next to your PC just
    as much as they will hurt the data in your PC. At the very least
    store ’em in a different room, but way better with a neighbour, friend or relative.

    If you really MUST store your backups near the original, at least have ’em
    disconnected and UNPLUGGED from the power when not in actual use.
    I’ve heard stories where a power/lightning strike has taken out
    both the original AND the backup drives.

    Dave

  4. Noel Goddard

    What about one of those friendly, neighbourhood, on-line hosted backup services – I saw a promo for one recently that looks almost affordable. Mind you, I haven’t bought any such as yet – been too busy fixing a couple of crashes on my and my flatmate’s systems. And no, neither of us has proper backups.

    BTW – when are computer manufacturers going to stop selling systems with no backup facility included while telling us how important backups are? I mean, the average, untrained, home user can’t be convinced that backups are necessary if the standard, “off-the-shelf” machine he/she buys has no backup device included. Can he/she?

  5. Dave

    On-line backup?
    Well, they might be OK for some. Assuming you have the connection speed to deal with the amount you need to backup AND you trust that somebody else to protect your data. Me? I have too much data for available bandwidth and I wouldn’t trust someone else with the only copy of my data.

    I certainly agree with you about “standard” PCs not having reasonable backup facilities. That has always been the case. In times past a floppy was the only provided backup facility and backup sets might run to 20+ floppies for small amounts of data… nonsense. And now we have 4.3 gig DVD drives verses 250 gig HDD… it’s no wonder people do not do proper backups.

    Dave

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