Long-time readers will remember that it was just over a year ago that Seagate kindly sent me a Maxtor Shared Storage II network drive, which I gleefully installed and which has been performing faithfully ever since. Just a few days ago I had set it up as a print server, seeing no need to have a separate print server when this would work as well.
Unfortunately, my printer (an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, not in the first flush of its youth) doesn’t really seem to like print servers. I had no end of trouble with the stand-alone Netgear print server, and yesterday I started having trouble using it through the network drive. So I started messing about with the settings on Teras (that’s the drive, named for its 1 TB capacity) to see whether I could reinstall or otherwise sort out the printer.
Unfortunately, I had somehow mislaid the main administrative password for the drive. I have no idea how I managed to do this, since I store almost all my passwords in Password Prompter, and the only passwords I don’t write down are the familiar ones I use all the time.
Fortunately, it’s possible to reset the administrative password on a Maxtor Shared Storage II drive without affecting the data or even the other user information. It does require renaming the drive and setting a new password, which I did without trouble. (And this time I put it right into Password Prompter.)
When I’d finished doing that, the Ur-Guru went back to copying photos he’d shot that morning into the Public folder on Teras. I was examining the advanced settings to see whether I could find anything that would help me with the printer when Stefan asked “Did you just do something?”
No, actually, I hadn’t. But the power light on the network drive had gone from green to amber (something I’d only seen during the reset) and the light indicating drive activity had gone off. The administrative interface stopped responding. Neither the power button nor the reset button produced any response.
I tried looking up the significance of the amber light in the Maxtor knowledge base, but nothing I found was very helpful, as they all referred to specific series of flashes, whereas this light was fluttering like a bad case of heart palpitations.
After a while, unwillingly, I pulled out the power cable. We dusted off the drive, reconnected it, and tried again. It appeared to go through a normal powering-up sequence, but there were some odd clicking noises.
“Is that normal?” Stefan asked.
“I’ve never heard it before,” I responded, “And I don’t like it.”
I liked it a lot less when it devolved into a rhythmic rocking sound. Tock, tock. Tock, tock. The Ur-Guru explains that this is the sound of the head trying to read data across the disk and then returning (tock!) to the “park” position.
Bad, bad, bad, bad, very bad. Listen for yourself.
It was at this point that we realized that the RAID-1 option on the drive isn’t all that helpful, as there’s no way to tell the Maxtor Shared Storage II to use the other disk. Unlike traditional RAID boxes, the drives in the MSS-II are sealed into a single container—one I’m not about to try opening. So my data may be intact, but I’m in no position to get at it.
Now, being me, I have other copies of most of what’s on that drive. My active business and financial data, not to mention my Outlook PST file, gets backed up at least once a day to other places, notably the new FreeAgent Go drive and the second internal drive. (Some of the client data also gets backed up online via Mozy.) I have most of the older client data on DVDs that I make at the end of the year. At least some of the software install packages exist on their original CDs, and some of the rest is freeware I can download again. Much of it, indeed, was probably obsolete; I download a lot of things in order to test them. The stuff I use most is also on the F drive.
If I’ve learned anything in four years of writing this Backup Reminder, it’s that one copy does not make a backup. So I don’t think I’ve lost anything irreplaceable.
But I’m two weeks past the drive’s measly one-year warranty period. And even though I didn’t have to pay for it in the first place, I’ll almost certainly have to pay to replace it. And while the price has come down considerably since the drive was introduced last year, I’m not at all sure that I want to turn that into an annual investment.
The main reason I went with Seagate’s FreeAgent Go instead of the Western Digital Passport was the 5-year warranty on the Seagate drive. Given what just happened with my Maxtor Shared Storage II drive, I’d hesitate to get a replacement NAS drive—from any manufacturer—without a longer warranty.
The moral of the story: just because you have a large drive that can serve as catch-all backup and storage for every machine in your house doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep additional copies of your data. Any drive can fail, and every drive eventually will. If it’s important to you, make sure you keep it in more than one place.
Next Friday I will be at the Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario, California, so it’s a good bet that the backup reminder will focus on something related to backing up audio and video files–or perhaps to making backups while traveling. (It will be the first time my FreeAgent Go drive goes someplace with me.)
Meanwhile, I’m really hoping to hear something from Seagate.