One of my hard drives died yesterday. Fortunately, very little data was actually lost due to backups. So it was just the drive, which was still under warranty and will be replaced soon.

Nonetheless, I am devastated.

Not for the hard drive itself but because it’s death means the end of a project that has cost not-inconsiderable money and hundreds of hours of troubleshooting. A couple years ago I had this idea. I won’t go into details, but it involved throwing together a whole lot of hard drives on a single computer. The number was originally 3 hard drives, then became 5, then 7, 8, and eventually 11 and a DVDRW.

A number of people told me that I couldn’t do it, but no one was quite able to explain why. Power supplies could be improved, PCI-IDE slots added, a new case purchased. So what would be holding me back?

I still don’t even know the answer, which is perhaps the most frustrating part of it. Once I got up to 11 hard drives, the system just started cratering. It cratered before, but that was fixed with a stronger power supply. This time it was different. If 8 drives can work on a 500W drive, then surely 12 can work on 1000W. But no, it couldn’t. Maybe the computer just couldn’t manage and distribute enough power. Maybe it couldn’t juggle so much at once. I don’t know. I managed to eliminate every possibility as a possibility. There was no reason for it not to work. It just didn’t.

If you’re not technically inclined, you can skip the next paragraph and start on the one after.

What would typically happen is one or two of the hard drives cut in and out from the system. I’d get those working and then another would start doing the same thing. For those of you that don’t know, when an internal hard drives goes offline while the computer is up and running, Windows pretty much won’t work anymore whether you’re using that drive or not. To the extent that you can get it to (by not mapping the drive), it makes actually using the drives rather inconvenient. Anyway, I finally got it narrowed down to one drive that was the problem. I tried swapping ports to see whether the problem was with the HD itself or the port. Suddenly both drives worked, and a whole ‘nother drive just died. Kapoot. Never to house data again.

Anyway, after mulling it over a couple days the hard drive doesn’t bother me (like I said, backed up with a warranty)… and maybe it’s not even that I can’t do what it was that I was wanting to do. It’s that I set out on a very ambitious computer project and ultimately came up short. The nay-sayers that I’d talked to were right. Worse, I spend hundreds of hours of my life that I’m never going to get back. All because I was too stubborn to accept the defeat that has been so clearly thrust upon me.

Boo hiss.


Category: Server Room

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4 Responses to Somtimes Things Just Don’t Work Out

  1. Kirk says:

    I know next to nothing about computers. Everyone says they’re easy to put together, but when I look inside mine I can’t identify 90% of what’s in there. To me, it just looks like a bunch of electronic junk, with one part indistinguishable from another. (I couldn’t even add RAM to mine, which is supposedly the easiest task of all.)

    Do you know of any good sites or books that show how to put one together? How about a source for parts? (We don’t have much in the way of computer stores around here.)

    Right now, my five year-old computer has developed the bad habit of refusing to go into “standby” mode, meaning I either have to turn the thing all the way off, or just let it run. It’s also developing some other quirks. I’m wondering if it’s something I can fix myself, or if it’s just getting to the point it doesn’t want to work anymore.

    Much obliged….

  2. trumwill says:

    It’s not difficult to learn the basics. I learned off of a video that I bought off eBay and by playing around. This is a little bit outdated, but it’s at least a good introduction to what the parts of a computer are and what they do. Once you know what the parts look like, maybe google “How to put together a computer”.

    As far as where to get parts, I do most of my shopping at Newegg, which has good deals and doesn’t hassle you if you need to return a bum part (except for some parts, which have manufacturer warrantees and they can’t take back).

    I can’t help with stand-by, unfortunately. I just turn the feature off. Standby and hibernation always gave me fits. Worse comes to worse, you can just let it run. Most likely it’s an operating system problem and you’d need to reinstall the operating system. How you would go about that depends on what kind of system that you have. It doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing where you would need to actually replace the computer or anything.

  3. Linus says:

    Will, I still don’t understand how you manage to have so much trouble with computers. Granted, I’ve never tried to put 11 hard drives in one.

    What brand is your 1000W power supply?

  4. Kirk says:

    I managed to fix my “standby” problem. I had been putting it off for a week, as the solution looked to be more trouble that I could handle, but a quick peek at one of those online communities let me know that it was onlymy copy of Adobe Type-something that was causing it.

    I had recently had trouble with another program, and mistakenly loaded that one in addition to the other. So I uninstalled it, and the problem’s fixed.

    Me, I don’t like to let my hard-drive run unless I have to. Keeping the computer in standby when I’m not using it seems to be a nice compromise between the “never turn your computer off due to heat expansion/contraction” crowd, and the “your hard drive is a mechanical device and it’s best to turn it off” crowd.

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