The problem is, I don’t much feel like writing about any of them today.
Part of the reason for this case of the Backup Sulks is the fact that I’ve reached the moment of truth with my X drive. While it performed flawlessly through my entire vacation, it’s acting up now. I’m not sure whether it’s the drive itself or only the connectors in the case, but I’ve managed to rule out problems with my USB hub, FireWire cable, and the like. I tried connecting it various ways and couldn’t get it to stay in communication with the computer through a normal file backup run no matter what I did.
Looking at my Event Viewer for Wednesday, I see not just the sbp2port errors I’ve gotten occasionally since I first bought the disk (disconnecting and reconnecting usually fixed it), and the ntfs “delayed write failed” error that I get if the connection cuts out in the middle of a file operation, there’s a whole raft of ugly “disk” errors reading “An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk2\D during a paging operation.”
Except—just to make this really alarming—Harddisk2\D is not my many-years-old and now widely-traveled external hard drive. It’s my second internal hard drive, and that makes it scarcely over a year old. (A year and a half, maybe; I got the computer in March 2006, but as it was the floor model, it was probably in the store for a few months before I bought it.)
Excuse me while I go run a disk-checking operation…
You can just about read War and Peace during a CHKDSK operation (don’t you love these old DOS names?), but at least the news was good: my D drive appears to be fine. It’s possible the errors came up because of attempts to copy my Outlook archive files from the D drive (where they normally live) to the X drive.
So, to resume the story of the X drive, once I realized I wasn’t going to be able to count on it, I edited my Replicator jobs so that they’d copy my data from the C and D drives over to the Z drive (that’s my personal partition on the Maxtor Shared Storage II network drive) instead of the X drive, and then ran the copy. Since I only have a 100-Megabit router, network copy is slower than copy by FireWire or USB 2.0 hi-speed, but it’s still pretty fast. (Will there ever be a USB 3.0? It’s been years now.)
The real down side to substituting Z for X is that since I have to log in to my Z drive, my shortcut to Replicator in the Startup folder isn’t all that useful. I can probably go into my Maxtor settings somewhere and arrange to log in automatically. After all, there isn’t that great a likelihood of someone coming in here and breaking into that partition through my laptop. Meanwhile, it’s not that much work to run Replicator manually after I’ve logged into the Z drive.
But I still need a portable external drive, and that means research and shopping. I started looking around to see what’s getting good reviews. The Ur-Guru has used several Western Digital Passport drives and just bought the new 160 GB model a few days ago. He particularly liked the shiny black exterior—until he realized it’s a fingerprint magnet.
It’s a serious possibility. There’s also a comparable 160 GB drive from Seagate, the FreeAgent Go. It’s also black, and comparably priced. Where the WD Passport comes with a synchronization program and Google Pack, the FreeAgent has something on it called Ceedo that essentially serves the same purpose as U3 on a USB stick. (You can buy Ceedo on its own and install it on any drive.) There’s also a real-time sync program.
So it wouldn’t seem there’s much to choose between the two drives. C|net’s reviewers give the WD a 7.0 out of 10 and the Seagate a 7.5, both respectable scores. They cost about the same amount (roughly half what I paid for my X drive four years ago, when 80 GB was the absolute upper limit on 2.5” drive capacity). The main difference I can see is that the Western Digital comes with a 3-year warranty and the Seagate with a 5-year warranty.
Stay tuned for my purchasing decision and its results, which should at least bring me out of the sulks.