Damn Computers – Storage and Lightning troubles

Yes, posting has been erratic for awhile. I was resisting posting excuses but that was even too much because it been too much non-fun, non-creative computer time lately. The only fun project recently was shooting a promotional DVD for a cool rock band, The Dukes of Stratford. However, as I had completely filled up my drives with “Outside In” and run out of credit card limit for more storage, I had to take several days to juggle around the 4.5 Terabytes of data – you can always find some duplicates, clutter etc. Managed to get a hundred or two GB free.  Enough for the band video.

But, as my storage is not one giant volume but about 20 or so hard drives (in addition to the main system drives in all machine) collected over the years ranging from 80 – 250 GB. There are about 7RAID volumes and I used various utilities including the incomparable “Beyond Compare” to keep all the data organized, backup up etc.  So it was very labor intensive sorting it all out including upgrading my laptop drive (found a 100 GB 7200 Hitachi drive, new, for $90 on Ebay).

Back online then several days pf shooting and mad edit, then lots of processing to get a 16mm B&W reversal look, get the video proof done and —- lightning strikes…

Not the “my film just got funded” lightning, but the actual weather stuff. 3-4 times. Close. I have 9 battery backup units and 15-20 surge protectors (including an upgrade of brand new ones last fall for all machines). I have surge protection on my cable modem and network lines. It all worked. Except that power from my electrical box is squirrely to begin with. Despite electrician visit, it still is not that healthy. And I don’t have the true stand-by (and uberexpensive) standby power, just your standard but heavy duty UPS battery backup.

The lighting strikes was strong enough to cause the UPS to go into a safety shutdown – not really safe. I don’t why this unit did it (maybe a fault of some kind even though it tested fine). But it took my “Frankenstein” server down hard where over a dozen of the drives reside.

It would not reboot. After a couple of days of work, I finally figured out it was registry corruption (basically a large trunk of the Windows Server registry just missed). I’ve done a lot of computer work over the years & never seen anything like it. It gets worse.  The backup program (Backup Exec) on the server won’t run to restore. It will run on another machine I built from scrap parts, but won’t connect to said dead server. Registry restore methods in safe mode and repair console all fail.

Four days and still down, I did wish I had run double backup programs. Microsoft’s plain-jane Backup would have been more useful than Veritas’ fancy one. Yesterday, I realized I had an image from the Acronis True Image. I run True Image on all my desktops but the server version I need costs over $1000 and when my eval ran out in May, I had no money to buy it.

Now, I’m trying to figure out how to restore from it (thank Saturn I saved the image files when I did the housecleaning part before the strike) without losing May through today’s data (especially Exchange emails).

Hopefully, it will be up in the next few days. I’ve spent well over 100 hours thus far. At a typical $100 IT rate, you can see how what a huge thing this is. The good news is the “Outside In” data is safe on the RAID drives in the server. Plus, I’ve been slowly uploading files to Mozy over the past months (almost 100 GB up to date).

But now you see why the “Outside In” budget has tens of thousands of dollars for electrical system upgrades, true standby power, backup systems, storage and more. Plus money to hire someone to do this sort of crap. Ah, the joys of technology…

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