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Shot97
Detroit, MI, USA
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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:05 pm

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I should have known... How many times has this nerd heard that sound before? That ever so subtle click or hesitation during boot-up... You tell yourself you're crazy...

"Just hearing things." you say. But of all the times I've "wondered" about a hard drive before, it always turned out I should have gone with my gut. When you know a computer inside and out you start to anticipate what it will do. The boot up sounds of a hard drive never change unless something is wrong. When you feel something is wrong, it's time to backup your shit.

The problem is it's never so obvious. The death of a hard drive is rarely a fast thing, not when you look back on it. You "should" have known, but you just turn your head and listen carefully... Everything seems to work just fine and you forget about it. I've known this was coming and yet it was a complete shock to me. Turned on the Amiga tonight only to hear a screeching and pounding noise that made me just about have a heart attack.

It's pretty obvious at that point... You know it's dead but you turn it off and back on just to make sure... Oh yeah... But I refuse to go down without a fight! I took apart the GVP hard drive casing, got the SCSI hard drive out... Took the cover off which involved a drill when two of the screws refused to come out... Looked okay inside... Blew it out a little... Gave it a friendly shake... Hooked it up to the Amiga as loosely as possible... Turned it on...

Nothing... Damn GVP thing needs the "game/boot" switch plugged in... AND THEN... Some life... Made it to the Workbench shell before saying Workbench had a read/write error and giving me the Red Screen of Amiga Death. Oh no, it got further than last time... Now I KNEW I was onto something!

The hard drive itself is a 500mb SCSI drive made by Quantum (in very small print) for Apple (in very BIG print) with a date of 1994. So we're not dealing with the original drive by any means. But a drive from 1994 is not exactly young... The good news I was thinking is that all the subtle bad noise I was hearing over the last few weeks was only heard during boot up. Once the thing got going everything was fine... I had a gut feeling if I could just jump start the thing into life it would be fine as long as it remained on.

So I just tried putting the drive in a few positions... I hooked up the good old transfer serial cable for Amiga in anticipation for a backup party. And I got the old girl to boot up! I was hoping to just get enough life out of it to boot to workbench with a floppy and save the most important stuff. She booted up all on her own with no read/write errors... Sounds like she always had... I'm thinking it's just age and that bootup sequence getting to her. With it jump started I'm betting it'll run fine just as long as the Amiga is on. I transfered the more important save game info/documents that were not a part of the the last backup just fine...

Now I'm going for the full backup. The last time I backed up the hard drive it took a good week via that serial cable, which is essentially a dialup connection to my Windows98 machine using Amiga Forever. I selected everything and sent it over... Over an hour later she's going strong with no signs of quitting. Pretty sure this story is going to have a happy ending. I'll just find myself another SCSI drive or maybe an adapter to use an IDE one once everything gets backed up and I'll transfer everything back. Perhaps I'll do a couple things differently, we'll see. Wonder how much that GVP hardware can handle in terms of drive capacity. Hmmm... I have more IDE drives than I know what to do with but I don't "think" I have too many SCSI drives anymore... Time to dig through some boxes.

Not out of the woods yet but I'm breathing easier. It's a thing that's possible with old hardware... But as long as I can get a hold of them I'll still be happy with the old hard drives just like I'm happy with the old floppy disks. I'll be kicking and screaming to a flash drive solution. I'm sure there will be more to come on this... Maybe a video, maybe a new post all together. I've got my Pool of Radiance saves (the game I've been working on reviewing) so that was the most important thing to me... Without those I may have quit YouTube right then... I've put too much into that game to have that crap happen to me. But I'm pretty sure I'll get it all back. Will keep the site updated.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:13 pm

Dude, I can't believe you had that drive working for over 20 years! I think the longest I've ever had a drive last is 8 years, and that's regular use. Good thing you actually do what you're supposed to do but few rarely do - regular backups.

I need to do that for my Amiga. Can you clone an Amiga drive so you can just plug-and-play a replacement should you ever need to?

I should look into that...

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Shot97
Detroit, MI, USA
Website

Posted Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:41 am

I believe you can. Through Amiga Forever you can just capture the hard disk image, like you can an adf. The only reason I just copy and paste everything is so it will be easier for me to organize things or just maybe backup certain things that have changed rather than the whole thing. I have my last backup set to run through my emulator and I even sent it to a friend for their setup. I've had mostly good luck with hard drives over the years, I most often replace them just because I've gotten a bigger one, not because something is wrong with it. I've got some from the 90's running in my DOS/Win98 machine. That machine did have it's C drive die a few years ago, but again, that was a slow process and not only did I have backups but that one just needed a part of the hard drive to be sectioned off from use, a part not even used... I could have still used it for awhile but of course it would have gotten worse. I just used that as an excuse to put a bigger drive in. I've had the smaller drives in laptops and dropped them short distances and been mostly fine doing that as well. Seem to be pretty resilient with me... However, I have lost data before... I've pretty much always backed stuff up, but I have lost things, even just through transferring because of a reinstall or upgrade... and it's that which caused me to do my best to make sure it won't happen again. The Amiga was still doing its backup thing this morning and almost done with the games partition, then its on to the Workbench one. Going faster than I remember. Might have the whole thing backed up before tomorrow with a little luck. Its these little adventures you live for, even if they scare the crap out of you.

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Shot97
Detroit, MI, USA
Website

Posted Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:01 pm

-UPDATE-

After only a few days my crappy "dial-up" connection to the Amiga is pretty much done doing its thing. I'm trying to remember if I'm remembering incorrectly with regards to my previous backup, in it taking nearly a week... OR if the couple little hacks I used this time around helped speed things up. Other than Amiga Explorer I ran a shell program called Quick Fix which is said to speed up the Amiga's notoriously slow serial connection as well as Add36k - A program designed to add 36k of memory to your machine. It does this by cutting the bitplanes, turning Workbench black and white as well as cutting the resolution, you can only see the top quarter inch of the screen. Too much junk running in the background can seriously slow down the Amiga's connection speed I've noticed. What I'm trying to say is I was quite impressed with how fast the transferring went this time.

I attempted to backup every last piece of my hard drive and its Workbench and Games partitions. The only things I could not transfer was a couple of adf files I had on the Amiga in limbo until I copied them to disk. These were the games Snow Bros, Stunt Car Racer, and Plutos. They're just adfs and I know their names, no big deal there. No matter how many times I tried to copy those I would always get a read/write error on the hard drive. I got everything else!

Oh yeah! Now... For the replacement... Having looked things up I refuse to get an adapter for IDE or SATA drives. They're guaranteed to work but they cost over $100... Certain things have no business costing so much, and that's one of them, I don't care what the hardware is behind it. I'll go flash card first! So my options are to get another SCSI drive from the time period or to get a "newer" SCSI. I mean they made SCSI drives for a very long time, it was actually a pretty good technology, faster and more reliable than IDE. The problem is they tweaked it, the newer ones have different connectors. I'd rather not buy an old school drive that's going to die in a year and wouldn't have that much storage on it... So I'm going to try for a somewhat newer SCSI drive with the newer connectors and buy a cheap adapter for that. I'm not at all sure how much the GVP hardware can handle in terms of storage though... If I get a 50gb drive will it work on the Amiga? I know for my DOS computer it can handle quite new drives as long as you input the settings correctly and partition the DOS drives to a maximum of 2gb. I have read that Workbench 1.3 can handle up to 4gb drives... Is that total or is that for every partition? Haven't figured it out yet... Nevertheless I've got my eye on a $20 4gb SCSI drive and a $10 adapter... I'm going to give that a go first and then a little later on try my luck with something bigger. The point at the moment is to just get the thing to work... I already have my C64 down for the count at the moment, I won't stand for the Amiga as well!





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