Three days and four thousand kilometres of constant driving, and here I am in my new home; Sydney. All that was left was to unpack what meagre belongings I had managed to stuff into my tiny car and begin to set up life anew. One thing I have always taken solace in when performing moves of a smaller scale was my computer. I know this sounds silly and stereotypically geeky, but the fact is that my computer has always been a cornerstone, a rock that is reliably familiar when things around me might be changing. I derive a genuine calming sensation from seeing my meticulously ordered folder structures, my desktop wallpapers, and my opened tabs from the previous session I was running in Google Chrome.
When I turned my computer on, however, my calm was shattered by this:
A dreaded memory failure. I had four 2GB DIMMs and at least one of them had died, and finding out which one requires taking them all out of the motherboard and testing them one by one. It is a hastle, but it is easy enough, and RAM is as cheap as chips these days, so no big problem.
As it turned out, three out of the four DIMMs were at fault; something that is statistically unlikely but not unheard of. Oh well, a bit of bad luck, nevermind. Buy some new memory, use it as an excuse to upgrade to 16GB, and we can return to our regular scheduled programming, right?
What fresh hell is this! A hard drive failure right after a memory failure? It certainly is not my lucky week. Hard drive failures are no mystery to me, and I have had my fair share of critical failures at the most inopportune times. The fortunate thing about this is that I know my way around disk recovery better than most; I remember one particular night in undergrad, spent with a friend in the nanochemistry building’s computational labs, frantically performing low-level rebuilds of his hard drive containing nothing less than his entire honours thesis. We didn’t sleep for almost two days, but we recovered enough of his work to submit it in time, and we learned a valuable lesson in backing up things that are valuable.
The CHKDSK finished piecing “C: Shepard” back together (yes, all my drives are named after characters from Mass Effect, this should not be a surprise) and I restarted the system.
Wait, what?! NO!
Not “F: Tali-Zora” too! How could three DIMMs and two hard drives all die at once? “C: Shepard” was my boot sector, and I don’t store anything there, but “F: Tali-Zora” is a full 2TB of data. To make matters worse, while Shepard ended up with some bad sectors that could be recovered, Tali-Zora was suffering from a complete breakdown of the Master File Table (MFT). The big difference here, is that losing the MFT renders the entire disk unreadable, as the MFT stores all the information on how to read the rest of the data; it is kind of like a really important table of contents that also stops the pages in your book from being cut into pieces and then shuffled, and then translated into a different language that no one in the world knows. This is a disaster, but surely things cannot get worse.
Just like “F: Tali-Zora”, the next boot cycle showed that “E: Garrus” had suffered the same fate. I don’t know if it was the compounded stress of moving and then losing my cornerstone, or the fact that I had managed to personify my hard drives to the point where I had developed emotional attachments to them, but this was the last straw. I curled up in my chair and waited to die. About half an hour later I realised that it could be a really long wait, and I was hungry, so I decided to make lunch instead.
Over the course of the next five weeks, as my new house mate looking on in a mixed state of horror and empathy, I began to piece together what little fragments were left of my hard drives.
The final chapter of The Exodus coming soon! “Part 3 – Rebuilding”