Friday, August 06, 2010

Had A SMART Event Lately?

As you may or may not know I was able to get a Gateway DX4831-01e thanks to the generous help of my readers. I LOVE the machine. If you can't get one locally Amazon has them.

About a month after I got the machine (a very nice one it is - Two eSATA ports [high speed external drive interface] and lots of USB ports plus various memory card readers) I started getting SMART Event reports. i.e. your hard drive is going south - do something quick. I backed everything up and went on using it. It has been another month now. The drive seems to be working fine.

So how good is this SMART stuff? Well I dunno. I haven't worked in that area. So how to find out? PassMark Software has a free tool that gives you a read out of the codes plus it tracks them to predict drive failure. What I found was that I was running out of spare sectors (they are used to replace failed sectors). So the dive is going to fail. From what I can tell, I have about 100 days or so to get the issue totally resolved (drive replaced). DiskCheckup™ is very nice tool that you should run at least daily.

Which brings me to backup. I tried using the Win 7 backup software and I found it useless. I had enough hard disk space for the backup but the Win software wasn't satisfied. Yaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh! I have used Paragon 9.0 on my old HP Box and I was very happy with it. It made my transition to the Gateway painless. Once I downloaded the free trial version of Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition (64 bit) 10.2 and used it to do an extraction of my saved files backup was relatively easy - well the menus are not exactly intuitive but the help files help and you can get through it. And why did I have to try the new version when I still had the old version? Well you see Win 7 (and I believe Vista - but I'm not sure) is not compatible with a lot of XP software. But not to worry. Intel has a Win 7 Upgrade.

OK so I tried the latest Paragon and I got all my old files back. After a couple of months I saved enough to get the Paragon Backup & Recovery Suite 10so I could backup my Win 7 box. But I had a leetle problem. You have to uninstall the free Paragon Backup 10. Not too tough. The Uninstall worked fine. But then you have to look for an errant directory entry or two and delete them. With the usual reboots and other time wasters. Well all is well that ends well. The software is up and I'm doing daily backups (the drive is failing) which take 4 hours 14 minutes to backup 720 GB (it gets compressed to about 570 GB on the drive). I used the eSata interface instead of USB in order to speed up the transfer. But you do need special cables for that. I used Tripp Lite P952-003 eSATA to SATA Signal Cable, 7P-M/7P-M - 3ft. Everything went well, with transfer speeds on the order of 50 M bits a second (total read and write). With indicated speeds (the Paragon has a nice window where you can watch the action) of around 145 M bits a second. Judging by the time it is about 3 G Bytes a minute actual transfer speed. Not too shabby.

Now I have to erase my spare drive and find some tools I can use to partition it with. I need places for Linux, XP, and even DOS. I'll report on that when I make some progress.

I have been using this tool: Cables To Go 30504 USB 2.0 to IDE or Serial ATA Drive Adapter (Black) both for its USB interface and just for its power supply when I was using the eSATA connection. I have found it to be invaluable for working out my current issues and for reading out those old hard drives you have laying around. I'm told you can get them cheaper on eBay but I like the security of having recourse with Amazon. YMMV.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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