My Crash

17 04 2009

Let the record show that all businesses mentioned below provided excellent service and I totally recommend them.

February 10, morning: my computer makes a faint grinding sound it’s never made before and fails to boot up. I power it off and try again, and it works. Problem solved, right?

February 10, afternoon: the grinding sound comes back and the computer freezes. Again I power it off and again it starts working. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see red lights flashing, didn’t hear sirens blaring, didn’t burn all my crucial data to CD and rush my machine to the Apple store. But no. I just hoped the problem would go away.

February 11, morning: the computer will not boot up no matter how many times I turn it off and on. Won’t even make the grinding noise anymore. Still, I’m not too bothered. It’s a hassle, but I’ll take it to the shop and they can fix it. They have ways.

February 11, 2 pm: my appointment at the Apple store genius bar. A guy who is about 17 plugs one of their mysterious devices into my computer and comes up with total hard drive failure. All they can do is replace the hard drive. He suggests taking it to Mac Shop Northwest, who may be better equipped to retrieve the data.

February 11, 2:45 pm: I manage to find the elusive Mac Shop Northwest, tucked in a back corner of a business/industrial park. They can give me a bigger hard drive, plus standard data clone procedure, for about $180. A guy who is about 12 takes my computer into the back.

I figure it will take them less than a week. Instead it’s more like a week and a half. Meanwhile I still have work to do. In fact, work is just now ramping up after a two-month near-total slump. So now I’m using Marcie’s laptop for email, editing photos at Vothy’s house, and arrange to borrow Amy’s laptop for Illustrator. Cybernetically speaking, I’m a drifting hobo.

Finally I get the call from Mac Shop Northwest. The new hard drive is in. They could not retrieve the data.

I go to pick it up and a guy who is about 8 explains it to me; the drive is in the process of failing, and while they have certain methods they could try, it would probably A) not work and B) damage the drive further. He gives me back the old drive and a brochure for Drivesavers, a data recovery service.

I call Drivesavers. Depending on how much they can recover, it will cost from $500 to $2400. At this point I’m ready to give up. I haven’t backed up a thing since 2005 (again, looking back, I’m boggled by my own ice-blind negligence). It’s a lot to lose, but it hardly seems worth two grand. Marcie feels differently. This is my intellectual property. She talks me into it.

I do a little research, and every data recovery service has similar prices. ADR has a location not two miles from our house, so I pick them. They have a $100 diagnostic fee, but no charge if they don’t recover the data. It turns out the location is just a drop-off point and the drive will still have to ship to a clean room out of state, but at least I don’t have to pack it in static-proof lambswool or whatever. By this time it’s February 27. ADR promises results in 5-7 business days.

I’ve reloaded what software I have on disk, spent about $100 repurchasing other programs, rebuilt most of my address book, and gotten copies of a few of my images back from clients. I am a mostly functional artist again. Before all this started I was cruising on Island of the Moths, drawing 3 pages a week, but since the crash the wind has gone out of my sails. When I tally in my head the data banished to limbo, it really doesn’t seem like that much. I can re-scan and recreate all my comic pages and merchandise. I did burn CDs of all my iTunes purchases– why I was so conscientious about that and nothing else I can’t imagine. Still, I feel torpedoed. I feel like I did when I broke my wrist and wore a cast for six weeks– an acute sense of wrongness, all the worse because it could easily have been avoided. It surprises me how much I’m wound up into my computer. Not knowing how much (if any) I’ll get back is oppressive.

A lot more than 5-7 business days go by. This is my one actual complaint about any of the service I received. ADR was very good about staying in touch with me, but I wish they had made it clear from the beginning how long the process might take. On March 26, I receive word that the data is unrecoverable.

It’s now April 17. I have a new desktop image, a new pharoh name for the hard drive (a personal tradition going back to 1994), a new directory structure that makes a little more sense. I’m slowly feeding CDs into my iTunes library, since copy protection won’t let me download from the iPod. I finished Moths #6. I’ve rebuilt art for selling at Seattle Bike Expo and Stumptown Comics Fest. There’s a lot more to rebuild.

All my old archived emails are gone, but that’s probably okay. Some of my writing is gone for good. One story in particular I was building momentum on before the crash, and I’m struggling to get it back. A large part of me is glad we didn’t have to shell out $2400. Needless to say, I’ll be backing up everything from now on.




One response

17 04 2009


I’ve got PSD files of “While SUpplies Last” on CD-R & DVD and stuff. Lemme know if you want copies. 🙂

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