There are three inevitable events in life: Death, taxes, and hard-drive crashes. This is the story of events triggered by the death of a hard drive.
We've all heard that there are two inevitable things in life: death and taxes. But really, there's a third -- hard-drive crashes. Go ahead, tell me you've never had a hard drive crash. I don't believe you.
Although the story began with a dead Samsung hard drive installed in an old Dell laptop PC, it's evolved into a story about what's wrong with Apple and why you can’t have too many backups. I have several old Dell Latitude D600 laptops, all bought used from eBay. One is mechanically dead -- it won't power up -- but the other three work. One has a broken screen hinge but is usable if handled properly.
The computer I use at my desk has (had) a 160GB Samsung hard drive. One day a few weeks ago, I powered it up. After the BIOS was done, I saw the black screen of death. The cursor in the upper-left corner sat there, blinking. The hard drive was dead, it wouldn't spin.
When his hard drive died, it set off a staggering series of events.
I don't keep any data on my laptop hard drives. All data is stored on an external drive, backed up to a second external drive, or so I thought.
Enter Apple, in the form of iTunes. I had my iPhone 4S, my daughter's iPhone 4S, and an iPad2 backed up on that dead hard drive. The first thing I did was install the next largest hard drive (80 GB) into that computer. Most of the software was the same, but not the backups. Here's where things spun out of control, for reasons I don't quite understand.
At one time, my iPhone and my daughter's used the same iTunes account. I had put her phone on another account when we started using iMessage and I was receiving texts from her friends. When I connected her phone to the computer, something went wrong and our address books were partially merged. I attribute that to the iTunes accounts, but can't be sure. She lost about 80% of her contacts, and a few of mine ended up on her phone. The only backup was on the dead drive. I needed to recover those backup files, but where were they?
A Google search revealed the location of the backup files. Of course, iTunes doesn't give you the option of selecting where the backup files go, which it does with your music library. If it did, I would have stored the backups externally. Now, at least I knew where the files resided. Looking at some old backup files on the 80GB drive, I saw that files are in a format readable by iTunes only. The backup folders and files in them are named with a long string of what looks like random letters and numbers.
To Page 2: Location of backup files