The Backup Mishap

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by xanderx007, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. xanderx007, Feb 21, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018

    xanderx007 macrumors regular


    Nov 7, 2017
    I've done something I should have done a long time ago, or at least, when the process was made available as soon as it was available here. I recently just "lost" a 3TB external HDD which is about a year old, and has all my concurrent project backups as well as photos from various shoots. A year before that, I lost a 2TB HDD. A year before that was another 2TB HDD, but, unlike the recent two, it died of natural causes.

    The way I lost both was so stupid, I'd rather not say how, but, it has something to do with falling from a great height, which was preventable, but, something I have a bit of frustration being able to prevent because of a personal situation. With HDDs, falling from any height is a great height.

    The 2nd 2TB HDD died instantly after it fell. The 3TB have actually fallen once before (a few months back), but, it was robust enough that it continued to operate without fault. It fell again, it was still operating, but, I already sensed the doom looming on the horizon, as it took its time loading all the files.

    I tried the usual fixes, but, instead of fixing it, it made it worse. Unlike the previous one, my MBP can still "see" the 3TB drive, but, my disk utility is no longer able to fix it because the problem was "physical," meaning, the very sensitive spindle, or the platter itself, has become damaged.

    I've inquired with someone I know who does data recovery, and, checking his website, I couldn't justify the amount it takes to recover my data. Now, don't get me wrong, my data is important, but, I've enough leeway to sacrifice data-wise. I do have a separate "cloud" backup drive, though it wasn't currently updated. Most of the older stuff from a few months back are there, but the newer, updated ones aren't. The main reason? Cloud back up was extremely slow, especially with my files reaching the 100GB mark per batch. Simply put, I was just being lazy.

    It was a bad idea to break my file management habit of keeping all my current projects on my main drive, and doing a separate manual backup aside from the automatic Time Machine backup. I've upgraded my MBPs HDD from its stock 500GB to 750GB, and still that wasn't enough, with Illustrator vector files and Photoshop PSD files reaching the 500MB mark each when I do hi-res imaging and multi-layered layouts. So I started filtering my large files, bringing them to my external backup, and deleting them from the main drive.

    Again, bad idea, which I should have noted the first time when the first HDD died of natural causes. Back then, though, the solution wasn't there yet, since my MBP was relatively new, and my optical drive was still very much alive and well and allowed me to do "quick" backups on DVDs. But, as most optical drives on laptops are, mine was bound to fail, and fail it did. The system can still see the hardware, but, it can no longer read media, let alone, write to it. The very last 5 pieces of blank DVDs from CD-R King are now nothing more than waste of resource. I could have added what I paid for those DVDs to a half Subway sandwich and be happier for it. (CD-R King is a local gadgets retailer here in the Philippines).

    As an aside, failing optical drives seem to mirror what’s happening to CD-R King, which has closed most of its large branches and downsized others. With the advent of high capacity USB drives and SDDs, the death of the DVD format (heck even Bluray) is inevitable. Now, where was I? Yes, failed optical drive. External backup drives falling from great heights. Me repeating the same mistake, twice the second time.

    Now, where was I? Ah yes. The failed optical drive. External backup drives falling from great heights. Me repeating the same mistake, twice the second time.

    Two or so years back, I’ve heard of the optical drive replacement module, which is really just a caddy shaped like that of internal optical Superdrives. My mind has been at it, I haven’t been using my optical drive for such a long time I wasn’t really buying media for it, to the point that I forgot it was even there. The only reason I was reminded of its pitiful existence was when I had to burn a set of photos from one of the x-mas events I covered in 2016. I bought previously mentioned DVD media from CD-R King, only to be wasted since the darned thing spits out the media, because it can’t read anything for squat.

    I’m a practical person. Instead of buying an external optical drive which I would probably use once and never again (I have two hefty external optical drives, which I bought for specific features and used quite infrequently ever since I got the MBP), I’d rather get USB drives. I’ve also known for quite a while that optical media drives were on their way out even before Apple released the very first MBP without an optical drive.

    But, the modules were branded and were quite expensive when they were first introduced, and my practicality dictated against it. There are some expenses I can justify, and others I can’t. This one, back then, was the latter, mainly because I hadn’t any way to test the device myself.

    Fast forward to a couple or so days ago when that stupid thing happened and my 3TB HDD, which wasn’t even half full both partitions combined, fell and woke me up, or, maybe it’s the other way around. The thing is, like when my MBP’s dGPU died the second time, I didn’t panic. I wasn’t worried. I didn’t have enough funds to replace a very expensive piece of equipment which I need for work (yes, there have been people who have told me up front I should get a Windows laptop instead, but, that’s another story altogether).

    So, I had no recourse but to find a solution that will extend this MBPs life a little longer, until I can scrounged enough funds to get a new one. As soon as I realized that the HDD was done for, I quickly searched online for the thing that has been on my mind since it first came out. I looked at Amazon, eBay, iFixit, Lazada. They all have the thing on stock, and, the prices have gone down, with generic ones readily available. But I needed the thing right away. I couldn’t wait for it to ship for what would probably be a few days, to a few weeks, Even Lazada is notorious for shipping locally available items for several days on end. I also needed to be able to inspect the item hands-on.

    It was at OLX that I found this:


    It’s a generic HDD/SDD caddy sold by an independent vendor at OLX. (OLX is a buy and sell website, much like eBay, but local to the Philippines). Some “branded” items I found look just the same, with the same markings, but this one was relatively cheap at PhP445 (around $10, with discount). All I had to do was stick a 2.5” HDD in and stick that into the laptop.

    Which wasn’t that simple as it sounds. Apple of course, has made it a bit difficult, but not impossible, for the common layman to replace stuff in the MBP. Since mine is already almost 7 years old and very much out of warranty a long time ago, I have no qualms in opening it and doing replacement job myself (my few units in Engineering helped). I wasn’t expecting anything, I’ve stopped expecting anything for a long time now, the thing could be a dud, or, it won’t work with the 2TB HDD I got that very same day yesterday, or, I could damage more than I’ve fixed because, well, sometimes I just do stupid things.

    I started working on it as soon as I got home, even coaxing my son to cook the food I bought (Nilagang Manok, or Chicken Soup Stew) so I could concentrate on the very delicate process of removing screws and connections, being careful that I don’t short anything out, or transfer static onto the delicate motherboard. I still have my trusty 10 year old Mac mini, where I viewed the instructions on how to dismember, I mean, disassemble my now trusty old MBP so I could install the hew drive. Did the process in reverse, closed and screwed in the bottom panel, turned it over, and pressed the power button.

    And viola! I should have done this a long time ago, but, as they say, necessity s the mother of invention. In my case, though, necessity is the mother of practicality. I could have gotten a 500SDD, but at a hefty PhP10K price tag ($200~), even with the anecdotal speed increase, it’s just not practical enough to me for such a small capacity. Despite that, I’ve noticed a slight speed difference when processing photos, since I’ve freed up some space from the main drive.

    What’s next for me is to get portable external drives for redundant backups instead of externally powered ones, to minimize the wires hanging around the place (which is partially the cause of all this hoopla). I already have a 1TB portable backup, which I got a few months ago when my dGPU died a second time. It’s better to have more of one than none of some.
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Wow, that’s almost a short novel :) As far as backups go by the way, nothing beats wireless Time Machine IMO.
  3. Adam.Kb2Jpd macrumors member

    Jan 20, 2018
    Live and learn. Hopefully the price of SSDS will drop at your end so you can drop your Mac without fear of data loss.

    Maybe you should get one that bounces more readily?
  4. xanderx007 thread starter macrumors regular


    Nov 7, 2017
    I tried writing it shorter, honestly, but, it wouldn't sound like as it happened. I have cloud back up, but it's rather inefficient and slow, so at the moment, a wired backup is still a better option. I wouldn't mind investing on additional portable drives anyway.

    Incidentally, I dropped that same MBP, twice. Once, while it's in my bag, adjusting my hold atop a grocery counter (still under warranty, and a second time, while it slipped from atop a table onto a carpeted floor as I was about to put it in the same bag. In both cases, the MBP survived intact, it only needed its connections removed and reconnected. So, I really couldn't complain, since it has served me well and long enough.

    It might be a while for SSD prices here to drop, as they are very much premium items. Though SSDs are tougher, they are not invulnerable to drop shocks. That, or I'd rather not risk dropping anything at all, but accidents do happen.
  5. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Switching more to external SSD's (512"s) for speed and durability. For high capacity external storage on the go I have a rugged Lacie 2.5" 4TB drive that's rated for a 1.2M drop, not tested in anger, not planning to anytime soon :p

    A good bag goes a long way as well (STM). A few trips back; tired, pissed off, struggling with the hotel door, bags in hand and I dropped my computer bag from the shoulder with two notebooks and all the usual nonsense, probably in the region of over 10Kg. Thankfully the bag did it's job and barring an alarming thud, which impressed as the bag was admittedly overloaded. Maybe just lucky, equally STM's bag saved the day :cool: happy with that :)

    As for backup's disk images on both internal & multiple external drives, with all working data additionally backed up to a cloud server with point to point encryption. Adds up to four backup drives in two countries and the cloud :)

  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    1. Decide which data is "the most important". You're going to have segregate that which is worth keeping, from that which is not.
    2. Get a Bluray burner that supports M-DISC and can burn 25gb and 50gb.
    3. Get a bunch of 50gb M-DISCS (Bluray)
    4. Get something like Toast that can burn them
    5. Burn your most important stuff to M-DISC. These discs are impervious to failure.
    6. Use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to maintain your HDD backups
    7. Stop throwing your drives around.

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5 February 21, 2018