Ottawa Valley SAGE

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Mar 7, 2010 - 4 minute read - Comments

Fun with Technology...

Well, not so much fun…

Tuesday last week, I guess there was a power bump or some such event and my main drive on my mac decided to take a nose dive. I should have expected this, as the power is not exactly the most stable in this neck of the woods. I do have backups, but I was lazy the past 2 months and didn’t do a backup. Time machine isn’t quite suitable (no real control) and I haven’t bothered anything beyond a full dump at intervals and that takes time.

The resulting sequence was interesting (yes, with all the connotations of interesting time):

  • Screensaver is not responding, so power cycle the machine
  • Get nice white OS X screen, no apple logo
  • Repeat power cycle, same
  • Remove power and wait a few, motherboard may be retaining some oddities
  • Try again, logo and spinner this time… 5 minutes later, still spinning
  • Remove USB hard drives. This has happened before after a power issue and it loses it’s brains on what drive to boot from.
  • Try again… logo, spinner, 1 minute later, power off
  • Odd… power on machine again, this time booting with the standard unix boot visible
  • It shows a normal startup, an fsck and a couple of errors and then powers down
  • Try again in single user mode and manually run fsck…
  • Well, look at that, boot drive has 2 unrecoverable errors, recommend booting from OS DVD and running disk utility to clear errors
  • Try booting from DVD and running utility
  • Even better message, Not recoverable. Please back up all of your readable data from the suspect disk and repartition and install a new file system. Supposedly this will result in a usable disk.
  • I don’t have any internal drives available that are the same size or larger to copy to, so I get a 1TB USB that I had some backup data on and start copying the 300GB of data in my account to the external drive.
  • I don’t want to redo the drive until I am happy with the backup
  • In the interest of getting things running, I grab a 400GB drive and use that for the OS and home directories.
  • After that, I migrate the applications off of the old main drive and copy a reduced set of my data off the drive.
  • All looks good so far
  • Most things are working as expected and I haven’t lost my business info or my email. Life is reasonable.
  • Now for slightly better response. Go out and get replacement drives for the 4 internals, just in case it’s a drive issue, as the 4 drives are in serial number.
  • Hmm, 1.5TB drives are cheaper than the 500s I bought 2 years ago. I’ll go with that, 2TB are still a little expensive.
  • Boot off the Install DVD again and this time take 2 drives and mirror them. No point in being screwed over a second time.
  • After installation and reboot, I have a 1.5TB mirrored boot disk and 2 1.5TB data disks.
  • Account migration, some application reinstallation and some recovery I’m back to a properly functioning system.

So at the end of the exercise, I’m in better shape, I need to keep a better backup regime and I think hard drives vs. tapes is probably my answer, as 1TB hard drives are under $100 and the tapes and tape drives I have are not near the same capacity as my my hard drives and tapes are not “live” file systems, allowing for easier recovery and viewing. This could have been much worse.

I think it’s bacula time and time to put in a somewhat power efficient NAS. I have enough SATA drives and a hardware RAID controller to do this, I can backup sets to USB drive from the NAS, and I can store the drives in a protected environment. I have no desire to get a cheap NAS appliance, I’ve tried that and they are not suitable for my needs. Time to create either an OpenFiler or a FreeNAS box. This will probably be a topic for after the current care and feeding of a virtual Linux box practical exercise we are doing.

Anybody want an ethernet enabled hard drive enclosure? It also does USB 2.0

Tags: Backups RAID UPS

Roles... Ottawa Area Security Klatch

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