Data loss event



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Posted by: stak
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Posted on: 2011-02-23 22:48:04

A couple of days ago I experienced the first significant data loss event I've had in a while. The hard drive on my Macbook Pro died. The last full backup I had was from December, although I did also have a partial backup from last week. Most of the data that I lost wasn't super-critical, but still quite annoying to lose. After diagnosing the issue (complete hard drive failure, since it didn't even show up in the Disk Utility on the recovery DVD-boot) I googled for potential fixes that didn't involve spending tons of money. I got a set of screwdrivers and took out the drive, cleaned off the connectors, and put it back in. Somehow this made things worse, since now it won't even boot from the DVD. Je ne suis pas doué avec l'hardware. In retrospect this may have been a good thing since the next step would have been to just get a replacement hard drive for an otherwise still-possibly-ok laptop. Had it failed after buying the replacement hard drive I would have been even more frustrated.

Anyway, I resigned myself to getting a new laptop. As with the last time I was in the market for a laptop, I would prefer to get a non-Apple laptop assuming it fits my needs. And my needs aren't all that extravagant, considering I'm increasingly becoming hardware and OS-agnostic. But as with last time, it seems to be ridiculously hard to find somebody who will actually sell me a laptop. Last time I tried this, I wasn't in a hurry so I looked around online, only to find out that most computer companies have non-functional websites that don't actually allow you to successfully place an order. This time around I was in more of a hurry to get a replacement, so I visited stores in the area. As it turns out, physical stores are no better at selling things.

First I went to Canada Computers. Of the 10-15 laptops they had on display, I narrowed it down to two, and after some contemplation, picked one. The sales guy checked his inventory and said that there were two somewhere in the back. He went off to find one, coming back 10 minutes later to inform me that a bunch of stuff back there was mislabeled and he would have to dig around some more. After another 10 minutes he came back with a box that looked promising, but unfortunately contained the wrong laptop. Finally he admitted defeat and told me that he could sell me the display model, which I didn't really want.

Next stop was Computer XS, where I got my desktop machine eons ago. They had a pretty dismal selection of laptops; the only sub-15" models were a bunch of underpowered Lenovo Thinkpads (I don't have anything against the new Thinkpads, but these were positively ancient - they had memory measured in MB instead of GB. Imagine that!). That was a quick in-and-out.

Final stop was FutureShop. Now they had a whole slew of laptops out, and unlike Canada Computers, some of them were even on! I could check out the screen brightness (albeit in their artificially-lit environment) and everything! They also had a bunch of HP laptops that were pretty good, and it took me a good 10 minutes to make a decision. But I finally settled on the one that best matched what I wanted, and asked to buy it. And then it was déjà vu all over again. Inventory tracking my ass. He said they'd have more coming in tomorrow so I'll be going back to see if they have it, but given my experiences so far I'm not very hopeful. I'm this close to just getting another Macbook.

I think the main reason that Apple is selling so many laptops is that, well, they don't go out of your way to stop you from buying them. How hard is it to put up a sign saying "out of stock" next to the display model? Or to keep track of how many you actually have in the back? Or to create a website that allows you to buy a laptop? Seriously. Given all the advertising and inherent human need to accumulate crapown stuff, people really want to buy new shiny laptops. Apple's are shinier than most, sure, but the others have their advantages too. And I, for one, would love to fork over my hard-earned money and actually buy one. If only they'd let me.

Posted by Dave Pritchard at 2011-02-24 02:53:31
I would recommend against HP, one reason is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpCJzdWxEbQ and I also don't like their bloatware. Next computer that I will get is a ThinkPad, in fact I still use my underpowered old one for working at home and it's still great! (Not shiny but I could buy some sparkly stickers I guess)
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Posted by stak at 2011-02-24 11:11:50
I don't like bloatware either, but I plan on reinstalling as soon as I get it. I think I'll go with a FreeBSD/Windows dual-boot this time. I would like a ThinkPad, since they have some pretty nice machines, but I can't find a reseller around here. The problem with ordering online is that it'll take a while to get, and I don't have time.
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Posted by Fai at 2011-02-24 14:38:08
actually newegg doesn't ship to canada I think.
but surely you can live a week without a laptop?
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Posted by stak at 2011-02-24 15:17:39
I can live for a week without a laptop, but not right now. Too many deadlines, not enough time. Anyway I went back to FutureShop and got the one that I saw yesterday.
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Posted by Varun at 2011-02-24 15:11:38
We've had a few Thinkpads in at work (about ~6K total machines, about half 15.4", half 12"), and I think between the failing backlight on the screens, drives dying, batteries overheating, and touchpads refusing to respond, I would steer clear of the Thinkpads. Also, I personally loathe the design of Thinkpads (really? an inverse wedge shaped screen segment?), but, y'know, whatever floats your boats.

What I'm more intrigued by is your data loss. If you were running Mac OS, then unless you run into one of the edge cases where Time Machine fails to backup the file you're working on, it should have got all your data on an hourly/daily/weekly/monthly basis for at least a couple of months. Were you not running Mac OS or did Time Machine fail catastrophically? If the latter, then I'd love to do a postmortem on how it failed, because I do rely on it for a couple of machines.

And as far as I know, there is a Newegg.ca and a Amazon.ca and I do believe both offer overnight shipping, which may be a better option than having to wait for the item to be found.
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Posted by stak at 2011-02-24 15:26:02
I was using Mac OS, but not Time Machine.
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Posted by Varun at 2011-02-24 16:05:17
. . .

*heart failure*

May I ask why?
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Posted by stak at 2011-02-24 16:25:05
i have own backup system. obviously it failed, and that's entirely my fault. my original rant was about computer purchasing, not backup systems.
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Posted by Fai at 2011-02-24 03:15:39
If you really wanted to buy a PC laptop, then you wouldn't keep picking the ones that are out of stock!
I haven't had issues handing over money for a pc laptop. I bought an asus on newegg.
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