Hard drive woes – nursing it through file transfer…

I’ve just replaced my main music computer. My ageing iMac was becoming unable to cope with what I ask of it (running Cubase and some video editing being my main concerns) without showing what a friend of mine has called “the rainbow wheel of perpetual patience” after every click of the mouse.

So just after I bought the new machine to replace it I started seeing one of my external hard drives was unexpectedly ejecting itself and showing signs of being in need of replacement too.

First opportunity I had (today) I started copying things off the external drive onto a new one, but already the drive was starting to stop even more often – I have about 250GB on this drive which I wouldn’t really want to lose and I was managing to copy about a gig at a time before the drive would shut down. It would spin up, appear in the Finder, I’d grab a few files, it would copy some of them, then it would stop. A message appears on the Mac saying “The disk was not ejected properly” then after a few seconds it spins up again, mounts, appears in the finder then the message about ejecting appears again.

If I switch the drive off for a while I can get a bit of use out of it (about 5-10 minutes) then it starts ejecting again.

A quick search led me to believe that the drive was possibly failing when it was getting hot, so out came the screwdriver and I took the drive out of its case. I stood the drive on its edge (to get the most of the surface area cooling) and directed a desk fan at it. This allowed my about an hour of use before it would get too hot and eject again. So I grabbed the most important stuff first and continued through until I’d copied everything over to the new drive.

Cooling an external hard drive to save files from certain death!

Luckily, I keep backups of everything *really* important but it’s tricky (and costly) to keep buying hard drives to keep enough backups (my previous work in IT tells me you can never have enough backups!) so some stuff is sometimes at risk. I’m just grateful I was able to copy everything using my rigged up cooling system – I’d like to think that this tip will be useful for someone else!


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