Backup the Backup Hard Drive

The more things we have, the more things there are to break. At one time, there is no doubt about it, it was the simple life.

I went to do a backup today of my PC computer onto my external hard drive, and low and behold, the backup hard drive would not work. I only use the external hard drive to do complete backups, and hardly ever turn it on. However, when I turned it on this time, I heard a very strange loud motor noise. I turned the hard drive off, and noticed when I turned it side to side, there was a clunking sound coming from inside the drive itself. This obviously was not a very good sign. The external hard drive is basically an internal drive with an external case around it. The HD was a Seagate Barracuda, 500GB PATA IDE drive, inside a SimpleTech case.

When I pulled the hard drive out of the case, and then disassembled the HD itself, I found that the motor shaft had sheared off the platters section, and all the four platters were still locked together, but the spindle section itself was separated from the motor, and was loose.

Keep in mind, failures eventually will happen on any device, and the SimpleTech Seagate drive has been very dependable for three years or more. This can happen to any drive and I do have experience with other internal drives dying on me too.

So, I did not feel comfortable without having a backup of this computer, and ran over to Costco to get another HD drive. I got a pretty good deal on a 500GB Ultra Portable Hard Drive for $60.00 plus tax. Yes, I could have gotten a much bigger drive, but I wanted to do more research in this area of large hard drives before spending more money, and this drive provided a backup bridge so to speak.

The new external hard drive is actually pretty cool in that the drive comes with a desktop USB dock and a separate USB cable, along with a small protective soft case for storage. It also comes with backup software and other software that is both Apple Mac OS X operating system 10.4.11 or higher; 10.5.8; or 10.6.2 and PC Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 operating systems. The portability of the drive is nice in that it does not require a power cable. The drive gets all its power directly through the USB 2.0 plug.

I already had Acronis backup software [ Acronis Backup Software ] installed on my PC, and even as I write this from that PC, I am doing a complete backup to the new external hard drive. I will be feeling much better once that gets done.

I have come to the conclusion, you can never have too many backups. In fact, it is good to have a backup of the backup, and then if you want to go further, store it in a firesafe, or better yet, store one of those backups off site. I am still a bit reluctant to use online backup file storage at this time, though there are merits to doing that too.

01/20/2011 Update:

I am very happy to report that the computer is backed up. Now I am thinking I should upgrade the internal hard drive to a SATA 1 TB and remove the two old PATA drives (C and D drive), using one of them in the old SimpleTech enclosure, since that enclosure is set up for PATA IDE drives. Note, my computer MOB is new enough that it has the PATA connectors built into it. Maybe I might even consider changing from Windows XP and loading in Windows 7. Or, maybe I should get a 2TB drive and make it dual boot, or maybe a tri boot with Linux, or maybe even consider making it a quad boot to Google Chrome operating system. Oh my, the possibilities are endless!

01/21/2011 Update:

After I completed the backup, I started thinking about my wife’s computer, and the backup that was on the backup drive, which was no longer viable. I had some extra PATA drives, and decided to try installing one of the extra drives in the chassis of the SimpleTech box, even though I have a SATA and PATA to USB internal hard drive desktop adapter. I am happy to report, it worked. So, with that in mind, I now did a fresh backup of my wife’s computer. I would really be in trouble if something happened to hers. As I always say, you can never have too many backups.

Also, I took the plunge, and ordered a 1TB SATA internal drive from Amazon for my PC computer. I think I got a great deal on this Hitachi Deskstar SATA 2 HD. What do you think? Hitachi Deskstar 3.5 Inch 1 TB 7200 RPM SATA II 32 MB Cache Internal Hard Drive 0S02860


How to Repair Gateway Monitor FPD 2485W 24 Inch for Bad Capacitors Problems

Gateway MonitorsWouldn’t you know it, just when you have something important to do on your computer, the screen goes blank.

I purchased my Gateway 24 inch monitor several years ago and have found it to be one of the most helpful computer accessories of all time. You never know how much you miss something until it starts having problems. About six months ago, the monitor would not wake up after going to sleep. So, instead of taking it apart at that time, I simply stopped it from going to sleep. However, that solution for a monitor problem only lasted a few months until the monitor finally went dark completely. I had read online about bad capacitor problems for the Gateway, and having documented the repairs for the iMac G5, I was set to tackle the Gateway.

I figured there would be some documentation online about how to disassemble the case, and I was hoping to find some pictures of how to do it, but searching proved futile. I did read on the various forums, that folks found bad capacitors onboard the PSU and one of the other boards. However, very little information was provided about getting the plastic case apart, other than a few folks saying that you have to pull the case apart. I thought Gateway would have a service guide for disassembly, but no such luck. Come on Gateway, provide some more detailed documentation other than just the outside hardware for service!

So, here is my take on the Gateway 24 inch matter.

  1. Turn over the monitor, face down on a soft protected surface.
  2. Remove three screws along the bottom edge.
  3. Remove the four screws on metal mounting bracket plate located in the middle on the back.
  4. This is the most difficult step. Carefully pry the case apart, starting with the bottom section and moving along the seam edge using two flat tipped screwdrivers and carefully pry it apart. Be careful not to break the speaker brackets. In essence, don’t pry the nylon tabs apart, but only the case itself. The case is held together along the left and the right side with internal plastic tabs that run the whole length of both the right and left side of the case. So, when you are prying it apart, it feels as though you are breaking the case.
  5. Also note that the power on and control strip located on the right side has a very small cable with a ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) connector for connecting the very small ribbon cable to the board. The ZIF wire-to-board connector has a little tab that can be lifted up slightly to remove the ribbon cable from the connector itself. There was a little piece of black tape covering the connector that I removed prior to lifting the tab.
  6. Once the case top and bottom are separated, then the internal guts of the monitor can be removed and set on a protected surface, face down.
  7. To get inside the electronics, the shielding must be removed.
  8. Remove the shielding on the left and the right side shields by carefully releasing the lock down tabs, and then sliding the shields away from the hold down clips. The larger of the two side shields has metallic grounding tape to join the side shield to the middle main shield. Lift one side of the tape off the center shield so that the side shield can be removed completely.
  9. This next step must be done prior to removing the main shielding covering all the power supply electronics. Remove the small USB board by removing the two mounting screws, and carefully unplug the small power connector to the board. Place this board off to the side.
  10. Remove all screws that hold the center shielding cover in place. Once the screws are removed, the shield can then be slid away from the hold down clips. Once that is done, the center shield can be lifted off.
  11. Access to the power supply capacitors and other electronics is now visible, and you can quickly check all the capacitors for any signs of bulging. I had four capacitors on mine that were bulging, and some of the electrolytic juice was coming out.
  12. Remove the PSU board from the chassis by removing the mounting screws and disconnecting the cable from the inverter card. Also, the screws for the power plug connector plate must also be removed before the board can be pulled off.
  13. Replace the capacitors on the bench.
  14. Remove the inverter card by first carefully removing each of the connectors, by slightly lifting up the connector clips and sliding off the cable connectors from the circuit board.
  15. Remove the inverter mounting screws and lift off the board.
  16. Replace the two capacitors on board.
  17. Reinstall everything in reverse order.
  18. Make sure the small ribbon cable connector is fully inserted into the ZIF wire-to-board connector and also that the traces of the ribbon cable itself is fully lined up with the connector edge. My cable had the traces slightly loose from the cable itself and needed to be straightened out parallel to each other.
  19. Put the whole thing back together by snapping it along the edges. Note to be careful of the power on/off control ribbon cable. You do not want to rip it on the edge of the case, or squeeze it between the two sections.
  20. If you did everything properly, you should be able to plug it in and turn it on.

The important thing is to take your time and do it right. When I went to turn mine on after reassembly, I found out that it would not turn on. I pulled it apart again, and found one of the cables from the PSU board to another logic card was disconnected. Once I hooked that up, and put it back together a second time, the monitor worked!

Info at Email Addresses

Question asked by a reader:

I receive allot of spam recently using the from: Linkedin Communication and to: or some other junk in front of @

Do you think it comes from Linkedin link on home page or is it something else?


The info @ email addresses are spam magnets.

Even if you don’t post that email address, the spammers use it to send every url an email because they know there are a lot of people that have an info @ company email address. They also use a means of targeting a URL with a dictionary attack. So, if people leave a default (catch all) email address, and the spammers use any type of attack, they can find unlimited email address openings to send spam. This is why it is never a good idea to use a “catch all” email address. Not only will it be a bad experience for the user having to go searching through the tons of spam, but it will simply be an undo strain on the hosting server. This is why, many servers and hosting companies are limiting this type of setup. Additionally, if you choose to run this way, you run the risk of alienating yourself with the hosting company. In essence, they won’t like you very much and run the risk of having your website be transferred over to a much poorer server environment, one that has other less than desired operators and webmasters.

Once an email address is in the spammers database, it is impossible to get it cleaned, because other spammers get it from others online.

I strongly urge you to guard your email addresses carefully online. Use of Javascript, a picture image of the @ email address, or formmails are some of the things you can use to be proactive to protect your emails from the spam bots (email scavenging programs that automatically harvest email addresses online). However, even having guarded your email address, I strongly suggest using spam detection, or filtering it through Google Apps for email, or running it directly through Gmail (by adding an account in the Gmail settings), or other options like that for the long haul.

Do the right thing, and don’t use a catch all email address. If you have a number of email addresses that you want to use as throw away emails for signing up for things online, do a forward of those select throw away emails to your main email address instead. Then you can create email filters to place them in folders or assign labels. You can also add address aliases for your main email address. Read about on how to use an email address alias name.

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