Forced Break

Wednesday my hard drive died. When I tried to boot my computer, I got this message:

> OS not installed

Yikes! Luckily I had my Ultimate Boot CD, but even that is of little use when your system has decided that your main hard drive (the one with Windows installed on it) is no longer there.

That hard drive was only three months old, so the company I bought from will replace it free of charge, but they can’t do the data recovery. Furthermore, if I want them to replace the hard drive right away and give me the bad hard drive back so I can find someone to recover the data, I need to pay for a new hard drive because they need the bad one to return it to the manufacturer. They’ll refund my money when I return the bad hard drive.

I think I’m just going to pay for the bad hard drive, then when I return it, exchange it for a new one. I’ll then have three 160 GB hard drives. That will be nice (especially if they stop breaking).

Anyway, I am on a short break. Once I get my computer back tomorrow I need to rewrite my 3000 character semantics/pragmatics paper that was due today.

UPDATE: It turned out the problem was that an IDE setting in the CMOS spontaneous changed. I still can’t figure out how that would happen, but anyway, it was an easy fix and no data was lost! The guy showed me which setting to change if it happens again. No charge. I didn’t end up buying another HD after all, and I got a signed, stamped note proving my computer was broken to give to my school. Heh.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. That’s nice customer service. Just part of The Game, yes? 😛

  2. I immediately thought of the Game entry as well. Haha. I just bought a new hard drive piece by piece at Bainaohui in Beijing, so that I could save a few kuai. Ended up paying about 600 kuai for a 250gb hard drive and a few other treats. I have often complained about how LOUD Chinese external hard drives can be. I am now cursed with one. If only we had a Best Buy in Beijing and I hadn’t played “The Game.”

  3. Greg Pasden Says: March 9, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Are you considering backing up your memory on another type of drive?

  4. John B,

    Heh, fortunately I’m OK with the situation. 320 GB is not as much as I originally imagined.

    Just to be clear, though, although customer service is relevant, the hard drive failure had nothing to do with playing or not playing “the game.” It was a Western Digital hard drive, and I’m confident it wasn’t fake. Sometimes hard drive failures happen.

  5. I bought a Western Digital at Xu Jiahui in 2002 and it failed within two years.

    Really stupid question: Did you try resetting the cables or hooking it up to another computer as a secondary hard drive?

  6. Gosh! Having to rewrite a paper doesn’t sound nice at all! :-/

  7. heilong Says: March 9, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    “Ended up paying about 600 kuai for a 250gb hard drive and a few other treats. ”
    Wow! I feel ripped off now,Im in Shen Yang and I just bought an 80gb Samsung external hard drive and case for 550 kuai. The only other treat I got was my computer detected a WORM on the thing as soon as I plugged it in, after reading this post maybe I made a mistake buying from a chinese store.

  8. John, a long time ago (10 years) my highly computer literate family swore off Western Digital drives because they were, quite frankly, unreliable pieces of crap. I dunno if they have shaped up their quality in the last few years, but I would gladly pay the premium to buy an IBM drive.

  9. I feel your pain. I don’t have any external hard drives that can die on me, but my computer adapter just exploded and I am having to buy another one from back home. I just hope the problem was with my adapter and not my computer. It would suck to plug the new cord back in and have it explode too!

  10. Ya, I second Laska’s suggestions. Try piggy backing with a second drive. You might not be able to boot, but you might be able to grab the files from off there.

    Western digital blows.

  11. Dude,

    Don’t give up on the bad drive yet. Try booting using Knoppix, and you probably can get your file back.

    I had similar experience around 2 months ago, and documented my experience here.

    Salvaging file using Knoppix:

  12. John, since you have several hard-disks, how about some RAID?

  13. My external Seagate 160 GB bought in the States in April 2004 died and gave up the ghost in Nov. 2006. I live here in Shanghai. Brought into Mei Lou Chen in XuJiaHui, they took it apart, and saw a burn mark near one of the components. No help. I am thinking about going to Best Buy and seeing if the ‘Geek Squad’ can do a data recovery.

    In the meantime, I bought a 300GB internal Seagate from a vendor at XuJiaHui. They put it into a box and I can connect it to my laptop by USB. 900 RMB, but I had my Chinese wife do the negotiations, I promised potential future work to them (and I have) and they threw in some DVD – Rs. Go to the top floors of XuJiaHui. They are more hungry for business.

  14. Lorean

    IBM has had their fair share of problems too (and to a degree still do). Remeber the
    Deskstar series?

  15. John-
    Do ever post your semantics/pragmatics papers online? Maybe I’m just a huge nerd, but I think something like that written in Chinese by a foreigner would be interesting to read. Good luck with your hard drive.

  16. Speaking of semantics . . . Don’t you mean that you’re going to pay for a new, good hard drive? You already paid for the bad one.

  17. Luckily you’re in China. I’m guessing you could throw your professor 2 or 3 meibanfa ‘s and you can get an extension.

  18. to avoid this happening next time, my advice is that you can pre-install OS in a bootable USD-HDD (need PC support), if the main harddriver’s not working, using USD-HDD to boot into OS, reset HDD order. it’ll be much easier to recover data from the bad hd (except you need technical data recovery) hah
    btw, John, do you use RAID?

  19. Laska and gang,

    All I did was open it up and check to make sure that all the connections inside were tight. I’m no hardware guru, so I decided to let the computer shop do the rest.

  20. Tim P,

    I was going to buy the bad HD and then swap it for a good one once I had recovered my data off the bad one.

  21. the Admiral,

    Yeah, I got the extension.

  22. kastner,

    No, I don’t use a RAID. I’m really not that much of a geek… 🙂

  23. If you ever have a hard drive failure and need to recover the data, get a hold of Stellar Phoenix FAT & NTFS. This program can even recover data off of formatted hard drives – I know from personal experience.

  24. For any important data, may I suggest a 2gb flash drive usb 2.0. Any important document is usually a text document…you can fit hundreds of thousands of important docs on your dongle. I also use it to store my incoming projects and image production photography in the works. And when you work on 5 different pc’s at 5 different locations, a flash drive that is always with you is a natural choice. Glad to hear your data is okay!

  25. Oh yeah, the closest thing you have to “archival quality” is paper and writing utensil of choice. Media and hard drives are 10 years at most. Technology is so fickle.

  26. I recommend that you print everything on your hard drive to hard copy at least four times a year. You might also want to employ a second, purely decorative hard disk.

  27. […] last week my hard drive stopped working right before the deadline for my semantics/pragmatics paper. I was able to get an extension, but […]

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