hard drive

Rescue photos and other files from an SD or microSD card with PhotoRec

As a photographer who's taken and processed at least 200,000 photos in the past couple decades, you'd think I have a solid workflow that results in zero lost files... but you'd be wrong. 99% of the time, I follow the workflow:

  1. Import photos from memory card.
  2. Make sure backup of imported photos completes (so I have two local copies—I also have one copy back up to a cloud storage provider, so two local and one cloud backup).
  3. Format the memory card.

A lot of photographers shoot with two memory cards, and have photos written to both—that way the 2nd card would be a double-failsafe. But for most jobs, I don't do that. And one of my digital cameras doesn't even have two memory card slots, so this isn't an option!

Anyways, more often than I'd like to admit, I do something dumb, like:

How to upgrade the SSD hard drive in a Dell XPS 13 (9360)

June 6, 2018 Update: I've also posted a video of the SSD replacement process, embedded below:

I recently purchased a used Dell XPS 13 (model 9360), and I chose to purchase the base option (with 128 GB SSD) since it was cheaper to do that and upgrade the SSD to a larger model (500 GB) aftermarket than to buy a higher model XPS (I bought this model: WD Blue 3D NAND 500GB PC SSD).

Figuring out why an external USB hard drive won't spin down on my Mac

I am using a 2011 Mac mini as a backup server for all the data I store on iCloud, and for the first few days while I was setting up the Mac, I noticed the 4 TB and 2 TB external USB drives I had plugged in would spin down after a few minutes, and I would have blissful silence as long as there wasn't an active operation on that Mac (which should be fairly rare; just hourly Time Machine backups and periodic SSD activity since the iCloud libraries are all on SSD).

However, after a few weeks, I noticed that at least one of the two hard drives runs continously, 24x7. Something on the Mac mini must keep hitting the drive and preventing it from spinning down.

To see what was happening, I used sudo fs_usage | grep VOLUME (in my case, VOLUME is 4\ TB\ Utility) to monitor what processes were accessing the drive, and what files they were accessing. After a few minutes watching (and doing nothing else on the computer, to make sure I wasn't causing any extra filesystem seeks), there were a couple regular culprits:

How a Hard Drive Works (in Slow Motion)

I've been subscribed to the Slow-Mo Guys' YouTube Channel for a few months now, ever since I noticed some of their great videos of random things that look quite interesting when recorded at over 1000 fps and played back in slow motion.

Their most recent video, How a Hard Drive Works (in Slow Motion) is one of my favorites, not because it's elaborate or amazing, but it's the first time I've ever actually seen the internals of a hard drive in operation. I've ripped apart a few hard drives in my day (they're built like tanks!), and they're amazing on the inside... but to see how quickly those read heads pop back and forth is amazing.

Intel iMac Teardown and Hard Drive Replacement - DIY/How-to Guide

FSCK -y didn't help.
Yeah... that was a no-go.

My iMac's hard drive was recently borked (I was getting node errors and i/o errors when I ran fsck in single-user mode, and I couldn't format and reinstall OS X), so I had to replace it. Rather than spend a few hundred dollars to get the drive replaced, or using an external FireWire drive to boot the iMac, I decided to replace the drive with a larger/faster model myself.

iMac - Guts Exposed
The 24" iMac is large. VERY large. I can't imagine repairing the 27"!!

I used the instructions found on the Amfiteatar website to compile my more condensed instructions here. I won't go into any gory details of hard drive types, speeds, recommendations, etc. I'll simply inform you of my decision to use a 1 TB WD Caviar Black drive (7200 rpm, 32 MB cache). I don't need a ton of storage space on the internal drive, as I have multiple externals for different uses.

Backup Strategy for Mac OS X Using Disk Utility, Carbon Copy Cloner, etc.

A blast from the past! The following article is from one of my first websites, ca. 1999, and was updated a couple times throughout it's history. I am re-posting it here because my old website will be deprecated quite soon.

A few notes before we begin: Since the writing of this article, Time Machine came into being (along with Mac OS X 10.5), and has brought about a revolution in the way I maintain backups: my schema now is to have a local daily Time Machine backup to my external hard drive (I recommend a simple 1-2 TB External USB hard drive), then do a once-a-month DVD backup (stored offsite) of my most important files. For most home/small business users, this should be adequate.

Another revolution in data backup is the idea of backing up 'to the cloud' - with the prevalence of broadband Internet access, and the plethora of options for online storage, many companies offer solutions to online backup that were only dreamt of back in the late nineties. Some solutions I recommend: MobileMe (what I use, but not for everyone), Mozy, BackJack, and JungleDisk. (No, those aren't referral links—would I try pulling that on you?).

Backup Strategies for OS X

A question often asked on the Apple Discussion boards and by my fellow Mac users is: "How/when should I backup my Mac, and what is the best/quickest and most reliable way to do it." This is a complicated question, as there are many different ways one can go about backing up OSX.

There are three basic ways that I would like to cover in this article:

  1. Using Disk Utility to quickly and easily make a complete, bootable backup to an external drive;
  2. Using Carbon Copy Cloner to either (a) do the same thing as Disk Utility, or (b) to clone a certain folder or group of folders (another program that does a great job is SuperDuper!);
  3. Drag-and-drop copy files and folders for a quick backup of important files.
Subscribe to RSS - hard drive