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  • Writer's pictureFrank Tornoe

A Cautionary Tale

Here is my experience with hard drive crashes and recovery. Early in August two of the three iMacs I use in my studio had the boot drive crash. The symptom in both cases was white screen at boot up. On one of them I had left the DAW recording overnight and it filled the drive making it unusable. The other, in addition to the drive failing had a motherboard display failure. Both computers are long out of warranty and I found the Apple store in Tucson (90 miles away) was not able to help beyond telling me there was something wrong hardware wise. I took each machine to a repair shop in Tucson. They made valiant efforts to repair each but in one case they determined that the motherboard was the culprit. The other appeared to be the hard drive. I purchased two solid state drives to be on the safe side. In the process of replacing the drive I had a problem disconnecting the display from the motherboard. It is nearly impossible to get the plug back on as it is tiny. We determined a significant amount of damage had be done to the motherboard trying to get the plug back in and it would be costly to repair it. I purchased two refurbished models of the same type. I am locked in to that model because it still has firewire which I use both for interfaces and external drives. Apple discontinued Firewire support so no new iMacs for me. I discovered that using a pair of chopsticks I could prop the display open so I could easily replace the internal drives. The MAC backup app called Time Machine was next. I restored the systems on both iMacs back to their previous state and all appeared to be well. Opening the DAW I use I found that some of the VST plugins needed to be re-installed or re-activated. Besides the Time Machine backup I run on all my Mac machines I also have a dedicated server which has 16 TB of storage capacity which includes a 4 TB raid array. I regularly backup work in progress to specific folders on these drives and have archived work on other folders giving me some sense of security that I can recover from most if not all hardware failures. I also keep active projects on the cloud using Google Drive. System folders are on iCloud for extra security. I lost about 3 weeks waiting for diagnosis and repairs but on the upside it gave me extra time to try new things I've not had time to play with for example - Electronic Drum Kit as well as some soft-synth plugins I had not tried yet. All this was on the only iMac that has yet to have a failure.

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