Hard Drive saga Another One Bytes the Dust - Part 1

A few minutes after I laid down for a rest, around 4:05PM I heard a double beep coming from my computer. I had heard this occasionally since around October after the startup chime, but my Mac just restarted and chimed again and booted normally. Another time I was playing a game and it double beeped twice within 3 minutes. This time however my computer had been running for about 5 hours already and had been idle for around 30 minutes. I waited to see if it happened again, and it did, I waited again and it happened again. After the tenth or so double beep I got up and was getting very scared. Was my computer about to die?

I got up and called Graeme a friend who runs Mac Buyers Guide (a great resource), to see what he made of it. At first he couldn't hear the sound even with my computer open and the phone right against it. At this point, this had been going on for about 10 minutes. I finally put the phone right next to the hard drive, and he could clearly hear the double beep, which by my estimate was occurring every thirty seconds.

He said that when he had heard that sound, it meant the hard drive was going to fail. During all this I had tried to get my Mac to get the screen to wake up (my monitor sleeps after 5 minutes, but I don't have my Mac set to sleep), and it wasn't waking. My only option was the three-finger solute, and reboot.

On reboot I heard the double beep again, and then the worst thing, my monitor didn't sleep, but displayed a gray screen! Why is this bad you ask? On the Beige G3 with a Radeon video card, there is a bug were the monitor sleeps until 75% through the Mac OS X progress bar boot.

I not only got the gray screen, but a disk with the blinking "?." This happens once in awhile, but I also got the double beep on restart. So I saluted again and got the same thing. Now I was getting extremely scared. I tried zapping the PRAM it zapped, but didn't solve the problem. Graeme was still on the phone, and said the he had read that that some people with Mac's and Maxtor 40 and 60GB hard drives were able to get there computer to see the hard drive by unplugging the computer. So I did, waited a couple minutes plugged it in and my computer booted normally. I thanked Graeme and hung up.

Graeme also mentioned that Maxtor's from pre 2002 have Bearings that are prone to failure, and that Maxtor addressed this problem about a year or so ago by using fluid Bearings

I immediately shut down and called Compu2000 to order a new Hard Drive ASAP Alex my friend said that it was nearly 5 and it was impossible to get a new hard drive tonight, but gave me pricing on a Maxtor 120GB (I had a 60GB and decided since I needed a new hard drive, I might as well get the biggest drive my computer supports, since I was down to 10GB anyway's on my 60GB). Now I was forced to wait until the next day (Wednesday) to get a replacement hard drive. Alex said to call in the morning and he would order it. There was just one other issue, since the store wasn't doing pickups from the warehouse, if I wanted it Wednesday I would need to pay for shipping!

If I remember correctly I booted my computer to find the number for Maxtor support to find out about getting a replacement drive since I got my hard drive (July 2001) before they switched from 3 year warranties to 1 year warranties. I also asked Alex to get pricing information on external firewire hard drive cases, so that I could get the free replacement drive and use it in an external firewire case as a backup hard drive for doing nightly backups.

Later that evening I decided since my hard drive was close to failure, I have to at least save my primary data (Documents, e-mail, Photo's (all 5GB worth)). I booted up and launched Toast and assembled the first CD. I clicked burn and after verifying files, Toast just hung, the burn speed dialogue box never showed. I dumped Toast's preferences, and it still didn't work. I reinstalled same thing. I then downgraded to Toast 5.1 same thing. Was my hard drive damaged to the point of needing a Data Recovery services to recover my data? Find out in the conclusion of "Hard Drive saga" if I was able to recover my data or forced to start fresh with my new HD with 6-month-old backups on Thursday.

Have you experienced hard drive woes, or lost data to a hard drive failure? Then tell your tales in our forums.