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Lessons learned from Tuesday night's laptop drive failure - badgerblog
February 12th, 2015
09:00 am

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Lessons learned from Tuesday night's laptop drive failure
Lessons learned from Tuesday night's laptop drive failure:

(Note: haven't used a desktop as a primary system for years, so a laptop is my primary computing.)

* Using Dropbox for active files allowed me to switch to the backup laptop with barely a break in content access: some things I was missing, some of which I'm considering moving into Dropbox because of that. I could have done much of that work through my phone, even. Note: If using Dropbox, you really should use two-factor authentication.

* Apple Time Machine and Time Capsule have been a painless full restore from backup solution for me. If you're doing a manual backup and have discipline, that's great, but most people who use manual backup strategies are like most people who intend to go to the gym: they don't as often as they should. For me, automatic backups are one less thing to worry about.

* Things would have gone faster for me if I'd had a replacement hard disk in storage. Drives are cheap so when I bought the replacement drive yesterday I bought a spare.
(The logical extension of this is to have a full spare laptop that routinely syncs from system A's backup. As hard drives have been the most common single point of failure in my experience this is an improvement with minimal cost.)

* Web browser sync of bookmarks in cloud would have been one more thing to not have to catch up or clean up afterward.

* Lacking: offsite backups.

* New project: look into making or buying a degaussing coil for disposal of the old hard disk: as what failed was the controller for the heads I have to assume the data on that platter is still recoverable. Have sledge hammer, lack furnace.

Other useful ideas and strategies, add yours.

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(Deleted comment)
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From:badger
Date:February 12th, 2015 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Yes I believe there are, although I don't have references immediately available. It's highly unlikely anyone's interested in me at that level, but what the heck. Peter Gabriel is the simplest and best rate of return on effort way, I agree.
From:gorski
Date:February 12th, 2015 06:52 pm (UTC)
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...yeah: if I'm destroying a disk I take the case off it and shatter the platters. You could steel wool the surfaces first if you don't find breakage to be sufficient, and/or or put them on a pan over a fire (a good hot fire has to be above the Curie temperature of whatever that medium is, right?) Any of those steps is above the level that's necessary for protecting my not-very-valuable data on my personal computers, and then my employers can decide what's necessary for their data.

Of course, if a big magnetic coil is on your list of toys anyway... ( :
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From:badger
Date:February 12th, 2015 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Your data, your valuation.
From:gorski
Date:February 13th, 2015 04:20 am (UTC)
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yes and no? knowing the level of threat you're trying to defend against is useful; somebody isn't about to turn a middle-sized government's resources against you to find out what an average person put on the face books, so I reckon a hammer to the platter is good enough for me. But heat and/or sanding down the substrate would be more effective if you were concerned, whether because you figure the data is worth that much more to somebody else or because having it destroyed is worth that much more to you.

Tbh, though, I figure it's unlikely that data recovery from a shattered disk is the easiest or most cost effective way to spy on somebody if their computer is on the network...
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From:badger
Date:February 13th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
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Yawn.
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From:detritus
Date:February 12th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm very happy with BackBlaze as my off-site storage, and have been meaning to set up CarbonCopyCloner with an external USB as a JIC.

My initial upload to backblaze was when I was at Duke on that sweet, sweet .edu bandwidth so that was good for getting the bulk up there.
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From:badger
Date:February 12th, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC)
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Heard good words about BackBlaze, thanks!
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