Scatter/Gather thoughts

by Johan Petersson

The Deathstar strikes again

I'm currently recovering from a hard drive failure. Yet another IBM Deskstar 75GXP, aka "Deathstar", bites the (pixie) dust. This particular drive was manufactured in August 2000. Four and a half years may be on the lower end but it's not an unusually short life time for a consumer-grade disk, so in a way I guess I was lucky – there were a lot of Deskstars that didn't even make it through their first year of service.

Losing a hard drive is never fun. In this case the failure was very sudden; I had expected it to at least show some symptoms before giving up completely. I have backups of all important files, of course, but since I can't keep backups of absolutely everything I still lost a bunch of less vital things, like my music collection and a big archive of reference material. And, most probably, gigabytes of stuff I won't miss. Sifting through that disk and determine what to keep and what to throw away was one of those low-priority tasks that I never got around to doing.

Since I'm planning to get a new computer soon, with SATA drives, I'd prefer not to invest in hardware for this machine right now. With the Deskstar gone the free disk space became extremely limited, so I cannibalized another old machine for parts to give the system some room to breathe. Ironically, the only reasonably large disk I could find was a Deskstar 60GXP! It probably won't last for long either, but it'll have to do for swap space, temporary files and downloads until I can get that new box.

If you own a still functioning Deskstar 75GXP or 60GXP, it might be wise to run the IBM firmware identification utility and upgrade the drive firmware if instructed to do so. This is supposed to alleviate one of the known problems with these drives (heads idling on the same spot for too long).

5 April, 2005