Actually, it CAN get worse

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 18, 2008

Filed under: Personal 56 comments

In the past 24 hours I have lived an XKCD strip:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/success.png

Yesterday I complained about my keyboard dying on me. Possibly as a result of moving the computer around, my secondary drive died in the middle of the afternoon. By evening, my primary drive had failed and the entire computer was useless. I’ve spent the following n hours (where n is an irrational and very cranky number) trying to rescue my files.

I have some theories on what went wrong but that will wait until I have a more ergonomic way to tell my tale. Right now my desk is a wasteland of parts and keyboards (two other computers were involved in the attempted resuscitation of my main) and the wreckage does not make for a comfortable work area.

(As to why I’m still worried if I have all these functional computers everywhere: My job requires a very specific collection of software, set up just so. It’s at least a day of work to get it all going, even on a healthy machine. Also, these other machines are so old their CPU’s are made of wood and horse glue.)

I began the day with a sub-optimal keyboard, progressed to not having what I needed for my writing, and now I don’t have the tools I need to do my day job. I’m most likely going to have to run to Staples or Best Buy in the morning and just grab a whole new machine. A Vista machine. This is very much against my nature, but I can’t really wait three business days for a good one to arrive from someplace reasonable. This is going to be painfully expensive.

I’ve stopped thinking “this can’t get worse”, because as long as you’re alive this is clearly not true.

But hey, at least I’m taking a break from WoW posts, right? Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day with your fully functional computer.

 


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56 thoughts on “Actually, it CAN get worse

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I don’t really want to rub anything in, Shamus, but you DO realise you will probably have to re-install all of World of Warcraft, with all the patches, from 0?

    Anyway, I feel your pain. Even if starting now, you will be permanently handicapped by Vista. Btw: a friendly advice: buy a few chips of heavy powered-RAM for your new Vista computer. You’ll need it if you want to run any games other than flash (or Solitaire)

  2. beno says:

    I think I’ll go do that back up I keep putting off…

  3. Tom says:

    Ah…they just don’t make CPUs like they used to. Pity, that.

  4. McNutcase says:

    Been there, done that. There’s a reason I hate touching ANYTHING, and always greet new things with “what have they changed, and how does it suck?”

    Go do something non-computery for a while. Watch a DVD with the family, maybe…

  5. Jabor says:

    Were you silly enough not to insist on having a physical disk for all the OEM software your machine came bundled with?

    If you had actually got that, you could have formatted your new box, installed XP (I assume you’re using XP) and had 30 days to actually buy a copy.

    Always insist on physical copies (on a CD or DVD) of any OEM versions of software bundled with your machine. Don’t just let them stick the installers in a folder on your harddrive. Or if you do, make sure you burn them to disk yourself.

  6. Jeffrey says:

    Oh, I’ve totally been there. The joke goes around my friends that my presence cuts the life expectancy of a hard drive by at least 1/2. All other consumer electronics get a “mere” 1/4 penalty instead. (At least one hard drive failure a year…)

    THIS time, I’m ready. Consumer RAID 1. Thought about 5 but 3 hard drives at once is too much stress on my nerves just for pr0n everyday use. Screw that “Xtreme gamer” RAID 0 crap, I wouldn’t last a month on that…

    I actually like Vista though. Or at least, I don’t mind it. But it really doesn’t do compatibility that well; getting new hardware and software are best.

  7. vbigiani says:

    You can buy a computer with Vista Business and/or Ultimate, which should come with a downgrade disk for XP Pro.

  8. RibbitRibbit says:

    They force you to buy Vista, you know.

    Or at least, they don’t FORCE you… they just say (and I quote from a Fry’s “salesperson”):

    “Not all the new hardware has drivers for XP you know. So it might not work, unless you will write a driver yourself.”
    (Isn’t this grounds for layoff?)

    Because of that alone I’ll never install Vista. That, and the DRM crap.

  9. henebry says:

    Not clear to me why you can’t just buy a couple of new hard drives.

    My heart goes out to you, though. I had a problem with data corruption on my Mac earlier this summer. Fortunately I teach for a living, and so I didn’t have any pressing concerns that prevented me from (1) hanging out at the genius bar at the local Apple Store for two days solid and (2) working on the problem myself in the evenings.

    Funny the way that one problem snowballs into another. I wound up swapping out my hard drive for a new one (not an easy fix on a Powerbook) and then laboriously restoring my data from a backup. But that introduced new problems with Permissions. And then, just last night, the CD drive stopped working, I think because I hadn’t gotten the case put back together just right, (or else because the pressure of my right forearm has over the years gradually deformed the case).

    Long story short, I want to believe it’s now finally fixed, and the fact that I’ve made the leap of faith is a sign of innate, irrational optimism.

  10. folo4 says:

    The gods have spoken!

    Even our most esteemed blogger, Shamus Young, is considering getting Vista even though it is out of sheer convenience.

    Even 4chan’s /g/ community have embraced Vista, even after calling it various names.

    WE MUST MOVE TO VISTA AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE!

  11. Factoid says:

    Doesn’t your work provide you with a computer? If not, shouldn’t they?

    Re: vista PCs from best buy…yeah I feel your pain, but for you I don’t think it’s realistic unless ALL of your development tools are certified on vista.

    Old versions of visual studio simply won’t run.

    I think most of what Best Buy sells are HPs right? Be very careful what you buy, because SOME of them can have XP loaded (although you’d have to already own the license because XP isn’t for sale anymore) but for many HP simply won’t offer XP drivers.

    Sorry for the shower of bad news. Keep holding out hope for those drives…data can almost ALWAYS be recovered.

  12. onosson says:

    On the upside, I will now be able to get your thoughts on Vista!

    jk – I have only had one drive failure, and I feel for ya.

  13. Neil says:

    Honestly, Vista isn’t that bad. Most of the criticisms are the usual Luddite comments whenever a new operating system comes out. I can run Oblivion on max settings on my laptop with Vista. My Vista seems more stable than my XP machine ever was, but that may be mostly due to the fact that I am the only user on the Vista machine.

  14. Rob Conley says:

    I found that machines that have Vista pre-installed to just work. In the two years ago I have abandoned the hobby machine that I maintained (piece by piece) since 1989 (started with a VGA PC-XT)

    While on average store bought machines are not much better than one you can put together. I found that so many types are sold that there are always one or two models that have a combination of hardware and software that can’t be beat for the price.

    Last time i found a Gateway FX7050 that was a real good deal and been happy with it since. The only software I had trouble installing was Visual Studio 6 (although I got VB installed) I didn’t really try tho. The rest of my tools (VS 2008, MathCAD, etc) all installed or transferred ok. Some I admit I had to copy some registry entries for some games but it was smoother than I expected.

    It helped that I bought my son a new computer several month before with Vista installed on it so I knew what to expected. In general if the UAC is turned off the experience was little different than the transition to any other major Windows version. There are a lot of little features that I wound up liking after getting used to the User Interface.

    I used Home Premium for both my machine and my son’s machine.

  15. folo4 says:

    Sorry for the shower of bad news. Keep holding out hope for those drives…data can almost ALWAYS be recovered.

    Nope, I just format them without a second thought, then sulk away to the city for 5 hours before police caught me for walking at 2 in the morning.

    What? I couldn’t get any tools from the net, given how incredibly stupid my broadband is.

    Shamus have BAD rapport with HPs; 2 blog posts details this.

  16. Jeremiah says:

    Ouch, man. I just need to take a moment to count my lucky stars that I’ve never had such catastrophic failure. I’ve been reaaalllly lucky when it comes to computer hardware.

    I’ve never understood all the Vista hate, either. I’ve been using it for about a year now (I got a free upgrade, so figure I may as well give it a go) and I like it just fine. It’s like a prettier XP (at least I like the way it looks better). And the Windows Aero theme is pretty neat.

    And it is possible to get computers with XP if you look around enough. I just started my job 3.5 months ago and when I started I got a brand new (I had to unpack it) computer that has XP. So it’s not unheard of.

    Best of luck getting everything back in order!

  17. JT says:

    This is where Costco is great. Go buy a new machine from them at the same time you order the machine you WANT from somewhere else. Bring your Costco machine home and use it until the new one shows up in three business days or whatever, then return the other one to Costco for a full refund. I’ve done this on a couple of occasions to get me through spots where I was lacking a piece of equipment or something.

  18. ThaneofFife says:

    But hey, at least I'm taking a break from WoW posts, right? Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day with your fully functional computer.

    Shamus, you have now jinxed us all! Every reader of this site is now doomed to experience catastrophic computer failure within the next week. It’s Murphy’s Law :-)

    Seriously, though, that sucks. As for Best Buy, I was at two of them in June and they both had Velocity Micro entry-to-mid-level models. I’ve heard great things about Velocity Micro (CNet really likes them), though I’ve never owned one myself. However, having owned Dells, Compaqs, Apples (the best of the mainstream brands, though compatibility was an issue for me), and Gateways, I’d probably try one of the Velocity desktops before I got one of those again. Good luck!

    Also, while you’re there, try the Mario Kart Wii demo–it’s addictive fun.

  19. Oddly enough, every time I think: “It can’t get worse!” about a situation, it does get worse.

    I’ve changed my tagline to: “Well, it can only get better from here!” That seems to work much better. :)

    Good luck with your computers (and reinstalling WoW… might I recommend making ISOs of the install discs? It’s much faster and the install doesn’t die randomly like it is wont to do.)

  20. Jeff says:

    Best Buy sells HP Blackbirds now. If you sell your wooden CPU to a museum, you can easily make the $6000 price tag. ;)

  21. Jerm says:

    I bet that a friend or relative sent you got an email forward that said that if you didn’t forward it, you’d get tons of bad luck.

    Hey – you can’t say that you weren’t warned!!

  22. Derek K says:

    Good luck, man. My last computer at least limped along for the 3 days it took Dell to ship me something. All my computer purchases in the past 3-4 years have been “Oh, look. Smoke. Guess it’s new machine time….” sorts of things.

    Re: Vista – I suspect for Shamus, it *will* be that bad. Vista is fine if you’re using it as a consumer OS for one person, and playing games released recently.

    Trying to run something older than 2-3 years can be a huge pain. Planetside took me three days to get up and running.

    But my real current anger with Vista is over the “Administrator/Guest” dichotomy on users. Vista lets you create two types of user accounts – “Admin” and Guest. Except that Admin isn’t really admin, in that you have admin rights. It means you can run things as admin. Which is usually okay. Unless you want to, say, install a program and have it put files in a directory you can only access as an admin. Or if I want to move files from my wife’s documents folder to my own. Then I quickly learn I’m not really an admin. And to get permission requires no less than 5 screens. One to do it as an admin. One to tell me I just asked to do something as an admin. One to confirm. One to tell me that someone just confirmed an admin change. And then one to let me know someone has messed with stuff. I know – it was all me.

    /rant.

    If I were less lazy, I would have found the SATA drivers for my hard drive, put them on a flash drive, and gone to XP.

    Don’t get me wrong – Vista has some nice stuff. When I first put my 360 on the network, and my computer said “Oh – I see you have a 360. Should I setup media sharing to it?” I was kinda impressed. Then a bit frightened.

  23. Nazgul says:

    I feel your pain, somewhat anyway. My personal laptop has been out of action since the weekend after XP SP3 ran amok and knocked it into negative hit points.

    Luckily my Mac and XP desktops, and my work laptop, all still work. Multiple redundancy is a good thing when you really need it. :D

  24. Illiterate says:

    I think we all feel like giving our working computers a hug right now. Just be careful not to dislodge anything.

    Me, I still haven’t been able to setup my rig and verify it survived the movers’ tender mercy (they scratched the 4!?/ out of some of our furniture)

  25. Drew says:

    Derek – You can turn off all of that user mode nonsense if you want to. I found that turning it off when I first set up my new Vista box made life much easier. Then, once things were solid, I put it back on, to see what it was like. New operating systems are usually full of stuff that seems annoying at first, but then becomes familiar, and sometimes you even come to understand it. When I first installed XP, I rebelled against the new interface and made everything just like it used to be in Win2K. Over time, I came to accept the XP stuff, and then when I went to Vista, my first thought was “Why isn’t this more like XP?” Then I decided to just accept it and see what it was like, and frankly, I’ve been very happy with Vista so far. I only use it at home, where I’m by no means a “power user”, but it’s done the job admirably, and has shown me a lot of nice features already.

  26. Mari says:

    Computer problems are always a cascade-effect of pain and terror. I feel your loss, man. For the record, though, if you wanted to, you could go with XP 64/Pro and get all the shiny, new drivers you want without the grotesque abomination of a resource hog that is Vista. Hell, I’d probably buy the machine, take it home, and reformat the drive anyway, so might as well install the OS you want at that point.

    Also, if it provides some consolation, I’m not using a fully functional system right now anyway. In addition to my keyboard problems, the sound card is blown (which really cuts into my “opera while surfing with firefox” time, not to mention the difficulty in following the myriad of links to awesome things on YouTube), my CPU is sub-1GHz, I’m running less than 1 GB RAM on the system, the video card looks and feels like something that came out of my old 386, and my OS is installed on a 14 GB drive that spins up at 5200 rpm. The whole thing is cobbled together from old parts in storage until I can get a new rig assembled. Nothing runs well on it.

  27. Doug says:

    Gods, I hate that. I had a similar issue when I went to upgrade my video card not too long ago. You see, I work with computers all day, so it really pains me to spend more than one non-recreational hour on mine at home. Any more and it just gets aggravating.

    I agree with henebry though…why not just replace the hard drives? Unless you’re looking for a reason to upgrade. If that’s the case, then now is the perfect time. Good luck, whatever you do.

  28. Chuk says:

    'm most likely going to have to run to Staples or Best Buy in the morning and just grab a whole new machine.

    I hope it’s not too late, but there are probably local computer stores that can make/sell you a better machine for less money, and with no bloatware (and probably with XP if you want).

  29. Derek K says:

    Drew: I figured. I just haven’t messed with it.

    Any pointers, for the lazy? ;)

    Shamus: ‘ware the Sharks, man.

    Such a good XKCD.

  30. TheOcho says:

    You do realize that your computer was fine until you posted the cons of WoW, right? The second those posts hit the internet an alarm went off in China and all of the gold farmers switched to damage control mode. Instead of endlessly farming one spot 23 hours a day to make their $1.50 a month salary. They installed 0-day trojans, virus, and other naughty things (yes the pictures of midgets and animals was installed by them…I think) to stop you from alienating present and future customers. The millions of WoW players that view your site daily would heed your words as disdain for the game and possible quit. Therefore rendering the gold farming business useless, and …. wait a second, this isn’t Penny Arcade?!?!?

    Nevermind you just have some shitty luck.

    I will still pretend those pics came from them.

  31. Stark says:

    So…. that lightning strike finally did it’s worst eh? Sorry to hear about that – I know your pain. On the plus side, you get that new computer smell in your office!

  32. Drew says:

    Turning off user account control in Vista is ridiculously simple, in fact, if you happen to know where to look:

    http://www.johntp.com/2007/04/02/disable-user-account-control-uac-in-windows-vista/

    There’s apparently some sort of secure mode for IE7 that runs it as a protected user or something, I don’t know a lot about it, but it requires UAC to be active. Again, I don’t know a lot about it, but until it annoys me to the point of distraction, I’m trying it out. And in everyday use of my machine, I don’t get any annoying prompts, so I’m ok with it. It’s a shame that the first thing anyone does when they get a new machine is install a lot of stuff, because when you’re installing 20 programs, it’s insanely annoying, and is going to turn people off immediately. You never do get a second chance to make a first impression.

  33. Justin says:

    Forgive the wording, but I second that first impression bit that Drew mentioned. My (currently disabled) computer came with Vista, and I like it alot. I was quite nervous at first because of all the bad press, and sometimes the multiple permission screens gets old, but for every 1 thing I don’t like, there are 2 that I do (auto-detecting my 360 comes to mind). My understanding is that the real problems start when you install Vista on a machine not built for it, so I wish you luck, but I don’t know that you’ll need it. All that bad stuff will balance out with equivalent goodness.

  34. Kerin says:

    Henebry: Not clear to me why you can't just buy a couple of new hard drives.

    Because if two previously-healthy drives failed in quick succession, it’s likely that the power supply or motherboard is failing and will kill any replacement part he inserts.

    He also likely doesn’t have time to troubleshoot which part it -is,- and in either scenario the remaining functional components of the machine are unlikely to remain so for long.

  35. Heph says:

    I feel the pain…I’m currently at work, but at home I have to make do with a laptop from the Stone Age. 96 MB of RAM, 2 GB hard disc, it unfortunately can only run XP and that only when the virtual memory has kicked in (Xp needs 128MB to run…Yes, I can do lots with this pc :-P)
    Did I mention it doesn’t have sound, doesn’t have a working battery (only runs on external power sources), the CD drive is busted, and since it only has USB1.0 connectors, an externa CD-drive is painfully slow (too slow to run DivX…)? Still, it works :-P

  36. Raine says:

    hmm…
    I seeing a lot of vista Hating.
    I Like Vista. and Im not a noob. Im a tech, and yes vista can be f(*í up at times, other times its good. the UAC or the GOD DAMNED POP UP FORM HELL, can be killed and its done and over. The only reason I cant play many games, Im on a Notebook I got for school not gaming. But it can play HL2, and EP2 with no bitching from Vista.
    Vista can be a Ram hog but all the same, so can XP.
    “Its a Vista Thing” Sarah Schell, I guess thats how it is.
    Like its a Mac thing. Its all a matter of Liking and how some people dont like Change.
    Raine

  37. Derek K says:

    Raine: Other than Team Fortress, my most recent game purchases for the PC were games made in 2005, 2002, and 1998. ;) HL2: EP2 is not really my target install group. Trying to get Master of Orion 2 to run on Vista was a real pain. Even Diablo 2 was a bit of a hassle (and I installed it before the rush of people playing it for D3, so I didn’t have pages of forum help. ;) ) That’s why I’m pretty dang excited about the Good Old Games thing that’s coming up….

  38. Namfoodle says:

    I’m surprised no one else pointed out that Shamus’s XKCD strip is missing the all-important rollover alt-text. He’s got the art style down, but the lack of alt-text just kills the immersion for me. ;)

    Anyway, I hope Shamus can get his system up and running soon without too much more hassle.

    After reading the comments, I feel fortunate that I’ve never had a major hardware failure on my primary home machine. A year or two after I bought an XP machine, my old W95 machine freaked out when I tried to install a Bob the Builder Game. I’ve never bother to turn it on in safe mode and fix it.

    However, one morning I came in to work to discover that more than half of my department’s directories had been erased from the network. In reverse alphabetical order, no less. This represented many many GB of data, both current work and probably thousands of archived files. The IT department was never able to explain what happened. The Read/Write/Modify permissions may have been too wide. At first we thought it shouldn’t have been that bad, because the network gets backed up, right? But when IT went to restore our files from nightly (or whatever) backup, they discovered that the network backup process had “died” before it completed backing up our files. So we had to restore from backups that were a few days or weeks out of date. What a pain.

  39. Stark says:

    Namfoodle – that is an actual XKCD strip – Shamus didn’t write it. The strip in question is “Success” and the rollover text is “40% of OpenBSD installs lead to shark attacks. It’s their only standing security issue.”

    :)

    And Raine – about Vista being a RAM hog… it isn’t. It just looks that way. Vista actually uses memory much more intelligently than any previous OS by MS. The RAM looks like it is being hogged because Vista has a new caching mode called SuperFetch. It pre-caches the data from the applications you use most often in RAM so they start faster. Often MUCH faster.

    If the RAM is actually needed for something else then Vista just drops that cache data and the RAM is available for the new application.

    The effect this has is that while idle Vista appears using upwards of 80% of the available RAM – in reality most of that RAM is available for use as soon as it is asked for.

    You can of course disable the SuperFecth behaviour if you want… but it really is very effective at speeding up the apps you use most often and has virtually no impact on other operations.

  40. edcalaban says:

    You can buy a computer with Vista Business and/or Ultimate, which should come with a downgrade disk for XP Pro.

    Ah, but for Dell at least it doesn’t come with upgrade rights so once you downgrade the cash spent on Vista was wasted.

  41. datarat says:

    Just a thought: http://www.diino.com/

    automatic scheduled backups of selected folders.

  42. Jeffrey says:

    Eh, I’m not a big fan of SuperFetch. If you have a lot of RAM (and you should, this is Vista), then what I’ve observed is that Vista works the hard drive like mad. I leave my computer on almost 24/7 and it’s in the room I sleep in.

    I would note that the hard drive would always be working, especially if I wasn’t doing anything. “Oh, it’s indexing,” I thought as I disabled it. Activity continues. “No… AVG? Not scanning. Defender? Not scanning.” Finally, I kill SuperFetch and now I can sleep.

    Preloading programs sounds good, but what I think happens more often is: SuperFetch preloads something, I do something, Vista writes over the preloaded RAM for my task, repeat ad infinitum. So basically, it reads from the disk endlessly and uselessly, especially if you don’t really have a computing pattern. To me, it just represents perpetual activity and increased failure rate for my hard drive so I’d really rather not have it.

  43. Roxysteve says:

    Or you could do it the easy way. A USB disk and a copy of Ghost. Total investment, less than 200$. Doesn’t stop your hard drive going nails-up, but makes the aftermath bearable.

    ‘course, you have to do the backups regularly…

    Steve.

  44. Joshua says:

    First WoW, now Vista.

    Oh, noes.

    I can’t stand Vista. It seems like it was made with idiots in mind. Yeah, it’s simple to use, but anything that won’t be regularly done by an average idiot is difficult to even try to do.

    EDIT: Oh, yeah. XKCD FTW!

  45. Davesnot says:

    everything ran fine before WoW.. right?

  46. ShockedMonkey says:

    @SolkaTruesilver

    You don’t actually need to reinstall WoW. If Shamus can manage to recover the data from his drives, he can just copy it to the new drives. WoW doesn’t rely on anything outside of its own directory. Saved me when I upgraded my machine.

    – Matt

  47. I feel your pain, I’ve been through that, though my back-ups survived and saw me through.

    More and more I stick with single hard drives as they back-up more reliably. I’ve got to get the second hard drive migrated completely off one of these days … sigh.

    Wish you luck.

  48. Dragonbane says:

    See what happens when you give in and install World of Warcraft? ;)

  49. Heph says:

    Meh…External intranet server, RAID, 1 terabyte, nightly backups, no more trouble :-P It’s what I run at my dad’s place. Total cost: €99 for the device and maybe €5 in elektricity a year :-P

  50. Mistwraithe says:

    LOL at Dragonbane ;-)

    Sounds brutal Shamus… and yet such a familar tale. Whenever I bring a new piece of hardware or a work PC home to configure my wife just rolls her eyes now and puts the lounge heater on high for a late night… because invariably something goes wrong, then you make a bad decision trying to save time and before you know it 6 hours have passed before you give up, go back to the start and try the magic combination that will work. :(

  51. Kevin says:

    iMac with Vista. I loves me computer.

  52. Kennet says:

    But hey, at least I'm taking a break from WoW posts, right? Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day with your fully functional computer

    Actually, my computer died yesterday as well, so I feel your pain. Worst part is that I recently switched to Mac (and a laptop at that) and I don’t really have any idea what I am getting myself into, trying to get it ud and running again. Fun times ahead, yay!

    And PS. I didn’t have time to read all the posts so sorry for any inconsistency or redundancy in my post ;)

  53. David V.S. says:

    Joshua #45 wrote:
    > First WoW, now Vista.
    > Oh, noes.

    Perhaps Vista could be improved by some lessons learned in WoW.

    For example, people are worried by IE8 and and whether its default mode would be standards-compliant. This should not be an issue! Being compliant is for new, wimpy IE8 users. Once they have browsed a certain number of pages and found a key hidden at a Microsoft online help page they can unlock Browsing In Heroic Mode which is not compliant and thus more adventurous. Ta da! A simple and elegant solution!

  54. SolkaTruesilver says:

    @ShockedMonkey

    Well.. if his computer completely crashed, and he lost all his data, then I would have been right. But luckily, time said I was only being a false prophet of doom :D

  55. Roxysteve says:

    Heph:

    Meh…External intranet server, RAID, 1 terabyte, nightly backups, no more trouble It's what I run at my dad's place. Total cost: €99 for the device and maybe €5 in elektricity a year

    Device? If you have RAID configured for data resilience and fault tolerance you’ll have gone for RAID 1 (mirror) or RAID 5. That’s one device for the first, and upwards of three for the second (unless you’ve configured all the stripes on the same drive which would negate the point of taking the performance hit). Then you have to backup to something. That’s devices then. Plus the software RAID manager. Plus the backup software.

    For your average PC I’d recommend a mirror. It’s by far the easiest, most straightforward way of stying in the water after a hit and, like all resilience RAID configurations, doesn’t require a backup (unless you get really, really unlucky and lose all the participating discs in one swell foop.

    For a PC where I/O performance is a must, I’d recommend Ghosting, either with a professional ($) product or with a free process that takes some setting up and disc-burning. I would not recommend any of the so-called “free” ghosting software packages out there on a bet unless you like doing factory restores for fun. I found this out the hard way.

    I also do this RAID-y/backup sort of stuff for a living, and for my modest home use I’m going with Norton Ghost and a USB 2,0 external drive. Total cost: In the region of US $170, but with coupons, sweet deals and whatnot you could bring it in much cheaper (in the past I’ve seen external drives sold with N.G. installed on them).

    Steve.

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