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04-23-2012, 07:58 AM   #1
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Defective disk drive...best course of action?

I just received an error message when trying to open a .psd file (it's a 2 sided brochure I've been working on) on my main 2tb hard drive (LaCie brand): I bought it last October but didn't get around to installing it until about 3 months ago, so it's pretty new.

"The document has been damaged by disk error. The most likely cause of this error are: a defective disk drive, a defective disk drive cable, or incorrect peripheral cable termination. Some of the pixels in this document my be invalid. Open anyway?"

So, I opened the first file and it appears okay at a glance. The other file (front side of the brochure) won't open at all. "could not open because of a program error." Both files still preview fine in the thumbnail of the open file dialog in PS.

Anyways, it looks like I'm going to have to redo the one side, which stinks, but isn't the biggest deal in the world. The working file I've copied to my other hard drive and will continue to work on it.

My main concern is how to proceed with the faulty hard drive. I think it's the disk that's bad and not a cable or incorrect cable termination, because about two weeks ago I opened a .psd file from it and part of one of the color channels of one of my images was gone...so it was like it just wrote the blue channel on the bottom third of the image, and not the other two.

I'd guess that about 97% of my files on the 'faulty' drive had already been backed up, but I do have a few others that I'd like to try not to lose. Should I just copy those to a third drive, then open them one by one to make sure they aren't corrupted before copying over to my working HD? I don't want to write over any files that may be good on my backup HD (now becoming my main until I get this resolved) with the corrupted ones from my 'new' and seemingly failing HD.

Also, I've heard of hard drives that write dually to two drives at once to protect against this sort of failure...are these called RAID drives? Something about redundant in the name I remember. I've got almost 2tb of files to backup overall, but will be adding to that amount of storage rather quickly now, with my Pentax 645D files.

Any sort of recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks!

04-23-2012, 08:38 AM   #2
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Can you open other files on the drive without a problem?
Could be that the program is acting up...


Yeah the 2 drives is called RAID but only protects against a hard drive failing, any write errors will be copied to both drives so it isn't a backup.
04-23-2012, 08:42 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Can you open other files on the drive without a problem?
Could be that the program is acting up...
I've been working with files off of this drive on a daily basis for about 2-3 months and only had the two problems listed above.

One strange thing is that the hard drive always seems to go to 'sleep' when I don't use it for 10 mins or so, and then takes at least 15 secs to wake up again...so it's slow to write at first. I haven't been able to find any sort of settings to turn this off. It's a nuisance. None of my other drives have done that, they're just always on and I can write to them quickly.
04-23-2012, 08:45 AM   #4
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Imo you're method of copying your current files to a third drive, checking manually, then copying to the existing backup seems sound. Although personally, I'd probably just keep the files on your backup drive as-is unless they are out of date/being worked on, and copy those files to a 3rd drive.

I'm not sure what OS you are on, but it's worth checking the S.M.A.R.T status of your drives (most drives have some form of smart unless they're really old) to see if it flags any errors. For windows I'd recommend doing an error-check by right clicking on the drive in My Computer -> Tools -> Error-check, and also use something like SpeedFan (Download SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer) to check S.M.A.R.T status. If you're on OS X I can't remember exactly what options you will have available to check drives but I imagine there are things under 'Disk Utilities'. Of course none of that really helps if the drive is failing already - but it dosn't hurt to check your other drives.

If this is all commercial work I'd also recommend having an off-site backup, doesn't matter what it is, just something that isn't linked to your main computer. Even if you have a backup on a second drive that's in the PC, if that gets a power surge for example, or anything major happens to your computer/home/office, you will lose it all because it's in the same place. Perhaps routinley backup on to a 3rd device and take it somewhere off-site, portable hard-disk/sd cards/whatever and put it somewhere else away from your computer. You could also use a web based backup but that depends on how much data you have/want to backup, and it might be costly.

You mentioned RAID drives - well, theres no such thing really as a RAID 'drive' (well there are probably some sort of RAID devices but they will have more than one drive in them), a RAID is more than one disc setup to act 'as-one'. There are many options for a RAID, and I think it's done mostly on a hardware level/through your motherboard. RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The simplest raid setup's are, for example, using two or more discs together acting as one whole drive - can increase performance as the computer can use both drives at the same time to get the complete data, but if one drive fails, you lose everything. A simple backup option is having two drives that mirror each other, they have the exact same data written to them at the same time, so if one fails, theres an exact copy on the other. There are loads of options for this so you're best bet is just google something like 'raid backup options' and your OS.

As Anvh mentioned, it could also just be your program/os that's messing up, or it could just be those couple of files acting up. If you think the drives failing though, just get rid of it, not worth the risk to be honest.

04-23-2012, 08:49 AM   #5
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Ryan, I think the first thing to do is to copy any files you want to another drive. Make sure all of them are backed up.

Then, *assuming* you have a Windows computer, when you boot the PC you should have an "F" option to run diagnostics - one of the items it will error check is the hard disk (note: I'm assuming the drive in question is an internal drive).

If the drive is external (or internal for that matter), after the PC is booted up you can run Windows error check on the drive in question - run Windows Explorer, right click on the drive in question, select 'Properties', then 'tools'. If there are any bad sectors, it should mark those as unavailable. If there's a lot, you might consider replacing the drive. Good luck.
04-23-2012, 08:53 AM   #6
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I suggest you run chkdsk on the harddrive (not sure what OS you are running), and make sure to check the disk for bad secors etc. That should isolate the files you have issues with.

There are different types of RAID, and one type indeed has dual hard drives, and all the writes happen to both drives at the same time. This way you can easily recover from a disk HARDWARE failure. Unfortunately it will not help you if you delete files or overwrite files, or get a bad virus, or many other events. IMO RAID is best used for running 24x7 computers where you can hotswap drives. Of course most people will do both RAID and backup, but again in my opinion a GOOD backup system is far more important than having RAID.

Personally I use Windows Home Server, which backs up my PCs nightly, and duplicates files stored in the server, that way keeping multiple versions going back several months. The server gets backed up to external drives that I rotate to a box at my bank.

I found that unless you have an automated backup system it is too easy to get lazy, and not doing the regular backups.
04-23-2012, 08:59 AM   #7
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I currently backup to a drive about every month or so, then store it in my safety deposit box at the bank...but yes, sometimes we get lazy or forgetful. Maybe it's time to set-up something automated.

I'm working on a Dell Precision T3400 with Windows 7 64bit. PS CS4 64bit as well. The HD is a LaCie 2tb external drive.

Thanks for the advice...I will run a disk check now.
04-23-2012, 10:13 AM   #8
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As mentioned above, if you want to know if the hardware is okay, I'd put confidence in the S.M.A.R.T report. If it says the disk is good, then its good. The problem may be that the partition formatting itself is corrupted. This could be caused if you powered off before the disk was done flushing its buffers (rule of thumb is wait 10 seconds after the computer is shut down or "safe to remove external disk"). It could also happen if the usb/firewire cable was unplugged before it was safe to remove. Many people assume when Windows says its safe to remove, it is, but the 10 second rule will apply on some hard drives (drives that don't respect the SYNC command). If the drive is corrupted, a tool like chkdisk should be able to identify and fix it. The safest fix would be to backup data and fresh-format the disk. This ensures that the disk metadata is brand new and intact. Again, SMART should give you an idea if its bad hardware or not. If it says the drive is good, it is only wrong about 1 out of million times, same goes for if it says the drive is bad (or going bad). FYI, I'm a software engineer and am not talking out of my a$$.

04-23-2012, 11:36 AM   #9
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L33tGreg, thank you for the sound advice...the disk check has been running for about two hours and looks like it's about 5% complete...so it may be a while before I know.
04-23-2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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try transferring the file(s) to a new hard drive and then open it in your editor and see if this works.there are programs around that can get data off the disk but I don't know what they are like... the only one I know that supposed to work well is from this company that was featured on leo laport's computer show.It is called "spinrite" it is here GRC
not sure of the cost, but if you look at the reviews sounds like it could be worth it.
just looked and it seems like they charge $89

hope this helps
04-23-2012, 08:33 PM   #11
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After running the disk check it said no problems were found and the disk is ready to use. Perhaps I did not wait a full 10 seconds after the computer was shut down for it to "flush it's buffers" as that is the only thing I can think of. I will be sure to wait a while before turning it off, or maybe just leave it on once the computer has been shut down.

Thank you all for your advice, I hope this is the end of my HD problems.
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