I finally got around to creating and ordering a backup/file organizing system. I posted about needing to replace my laptop because the hinge broke, but none of my files are stored on the laptop. The hard drive there is solely for running the OS and programs, and a partition for downloading files, which I then scan for viruses and move to an external drive, just in case something gets infected, I can wipe my laptop and my files will still be safe.
So everything is stored on a single 500 GB MyBook Hard Drive.
I've been having problems with it since I got it, but it took me a while to figure out, and then purchase, a solution.
My solution is to buy a TB drive, which would serve as a backup drive, and then a handful of smaller external drives, into which I will divide my files according to type (movies, music, photos, other stuff) for portability and additional security that if something happens to one drive, I won't lose all my files.
My existing drive has the following problems:
When I first got my drive, I followed the instructions in installing it, I plugged it in, the light came on, the drive started spinning, but the computer couldn't see it. At all. After calling tech support, I discovered that the drive, which requires an external power source, will sometimes draw just enough power to start up, but not enough power for the computer to find it. This happens primarily when I plug it into a power strip with other devices also drawing power. So, annoying, but I found a reasonable work-around, which was to buy a much-needed UPS and plug it into there with all my peripherials plugged into a separate wall switch on a power strip.
Then, after owning it for a few months, it began to overheat. When it overheats, I can click on "My Computer" and see the drive still there, but if I click on the drive itself, the window tells me that there are no files.
Simultaneously, I discovered a problem with iTunes and Windows Vista. Apparently, iTunes doesn't like Vista (who does?), and thinks it knows better. It would rewrite the upper and lower limits on my CD drive and it would also rewrite something having to do with my USB ports that made them not work. Since my drive is connected via USB, this meant that every time I started up iTunes, it would change my USB ports and my drive would not work the next time I turned on the computer. I had a rather complicated process to go into the bios and fix the USB code each time I booted up. Then I would have to make sure iTunes didn't start up so I could access my drive. I discovered this particular problem when I tried to plug in my thumbdrive and *it* wouldn't work either, making me question my assumption that the drive overheated for good. When I plugged in the drive to someone else's computer and it showed up just fine, I knew it was a problem with the USB port.
So now, I have this rather annoying startup process. I plug in just my drive and unplug everything else. I start with the drive on its side (it's designed to sit either on its side or flat, looking like a book, hence the name "My Book") to make as little contact with the surface as possible, thereby increasing the airflow and decreasing the heat. Then I start up the computer. If it doesn't find my drive, then I unplug it, lay it flat, put an ice pack on it, let it cool off, reboot, and plug it back in. If it still doesn't start, I repeat the process using different USB ports.
So, yesterday, my new hard drive system arrived. The MyBook was currently turned on and I had access to it, so I figured I'd finish up the projects I was working on and then begin the transfer process. Halfway through, I tried to open a folder on the drive only to be told that it was empty and there were no files. I reached down and, sure enough, the drive was hot, the ice pack having lost its freeze and was now a hot piece of liquid-filled plastic covering more surface area of the drive.
So, I began my reboot process, unplugging the drive, replacing the ice pack, letting it cool off, etc. It didn't turn back on. I repeated, using the variations outlined above. The fracken drive will not connect with the computer. I even went so far as to leave the drive unplugged over night with a fresh ice pack, and to shut down the computer for a while before attempting it again.
So, here I sit, with a box of hard drives, all ready to begin the rescue process of my piece of shit MyBook, and it sits on my desk mocking me with its blue eye, teasing me, telling me "yes, I have power, but I still won't let you get at your files!" It literally shut down just in time to prevent me from salvaging my files. I have the box of hard drives! It's right here! The MyBook was working when it arrived and it stopped working just as I was about to switch over! I don't care what logic and reason tell me, my computers hate me. They're malicious and vindictive and spiteful and they do things to me on purpose just to torture me.
I can't back up my files, I can't rescue my music, or all my photography, I can't access my tax spreadsheet, I can't get to my website files (all of the websites I maintain), I can't do anything but read my email.
I fucking hate computers.
As more evidence that my electronics are malicious and hate me, just as I hit the "post" button, I plugged my drive in one last time and it fucking started up. It only did that because it knew I was ranting about it online and it wanted to make me appear foolish. It's hateful like that.