Recovering From Hard Drive Failure

July 17, 2017

My month in Mexico was almost over and major failure interrupted the trip home. Not just a flat tire, but one that was completely destroyed. Not what you want to happen when it is 105 degrees and you in the middle of the desert more than fifty miles from the nearest town. Thankfully we had a brand new spare, two jacks and everything else needed to get back on the road. We were only delayed about 45 minutes.

Even worse was the failure once I got back to the office. When I tried to boot my computer, it just flat out wouldn’t work. I tried a number of things and the only real solution was to install a new drive. Many times when I am writing about computer hardware, I consider it research for myself should I need to replace something. So I brought up my Crucial MX300 SSD Drives Up to 2TB post and ordered myself the 1 TB drive as a replacement.

During the time I was waiting for the new replacement, a client said something about how calm I was in the face of such disaster. Just like with the tire, I was prepared. I knew all my data was safe. The biggest frustration was having to wait for the new drive and then the long process of installing Windows and all of my software. I can say with certainty that I didn’t lose any data at all and I have most everything installing and running smoothly. The upside is that the new drive really sped up my computer!

While I was waiting for the new drive, I collected everything I needed to do the installation. For those who want to use my process, I documented it in Preparing to Install Software on a New Machine. I went to Microsoft’s site to get a copy of Windows 10 to put on a flash drive for easy installation. It took less than 15 minutes to complete the installation on the new drive!

Then I went through the long process of installing software and downloading all of the updates. This was by far the most tedious part of the process. My data was not only stored on a separate drive, it is also backed up every single night. Of course I checked on it once I was running again and was happy when I confirmed that no data was lost.

The failed drive also contained some artwork libraries. I have everything I need to re-create it, but it would be simpler if I could just copy them from the old drive. Yes, I could connect the old drive inside the computer. A simpler solution was a cable that allowed me to plug the old drive into a USB port. I got the Lumsing High Speed Adapter Cable USB 3.0 to SATA 2.5″ 22Pin to do exactly that. It worked great!

Only four days after the disaster, everything was back to normal again. I had to make sure that everything was being backed up going forward. I setup Goodsync to back up my data to the Asustor NAS drive and all is right in the world again.

Before disaster strikes your computer (or your tires), make sure you have a recovery plan! Design something that gets you up and running in a short amount of time with zero data loss. If you don’t plan ahead, you will be sorry when your drive dies.

Post Discussion


  1. Tracey Saban

    Glad you are home safe and sound. I would say that in addition to being prepared, the other trait that served you well in this process is your methodical approach to the process. For those of us who tend to be more helter-skelter, thank you so much for the documentation on preparing for install. Heaven help me should I ever need it. I’ll also need a dose of your calm nature.

    • Foster D. Coburn III

      Thanks, I’m glad I’m home safely though I do miss the beach. We all know that a computer disaster (or a blown out tire) will happen at some point. I was burned long ago when a hard drive failed so I make sure that I’m extra cautious now. That caution has served me well.

  2. James Pepper (past student at Foster's Corel class)

    Why not a cloned drive?

    I have two identical hard drives. I clone the first to the second once a month.
    I have an external SSD drive. My backup program (Second Copy) updates a copy of my Documents folder to the external every two hours (configurable).
    So if my main drive fails, i can disconnect it and boot up to my clone and update any files that are on the external drive.
    I’ve practiced this for years, and “only” needed to recover once.
    I don’t understand why people have only one hard drive.

    • Foster D. Coburn III

      Personal choice is the short answer. We know the data is safe as it is backed up nightly and stored on a NAS with redundancy. There is no important data on the system drive, just Windows. Yes it can be a hassle to reinstall Windows and software, but I also take that as an opportunity to do some housecleaning. For this specific failure, a cloned drive probably would have resulted in the same failure.


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