Day 1265 – Performs as Advertised

After years of working with these flakey devices we call “personal computers” I finally experienced hard drive failure. It came on slowly over about a week. I noticed certain operations were taking longer and longer, especially saving files. This was especially problematic with Photoshop during the all-important “save for web” step of my daily routine.

Rebooting with a system CD and running Apple’s hardware diagnostics (extended flavor) revealed nothing, but i noticed the report didn’t say anything “hard drive read/write.”

A cursory Google search led me to the very good Xbench testing software.

I ran xbench twice…. and quickly located a problem. My hard drive, a standard-issue Western Digital 250Gb model, was indeed having issues. The uncached write speed, that benchmarks suggest should be somewhere around 38 mb/sec, was coming in at, wait for it, .32 mb/sec. Two orders of magnitude slower than what is should be. Read rates were bang on, but writing was slower than a monk translating a manuscript by hand.

So, armed with a Boise State P card, i quickly surfed to Newegg where i found a Western Digital 1 Tb drive for all of $139. A terabyte for $139. Ok, so it doesn’t have the biggest cache or the fastest spindle or transfer speeds, but it’s a freakin’ terabyte. I do sexed-up office work, this drive will be just fine.

The new drive arrived today, i opened the imac with virtually no difficulty, swapped out the drive, reassembled everything, rebooted from my personal 10.5 dvd, selected “restore from time machine,” followed the prompts… and about 1.8 hours later was back where i had been the day i diagnosed the drive’s fault. Yeah i had to reload some mail messages, and re-activate CS3 apps, but it all went smoothly.

Bottom line, despite some Time Machine errors during backups that caused some concern, everything went exactly as advertised. What’s more the experience was exactly what using Apple software should be and nearly always has been.

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