Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Get Well, the Computer Gets Sick

I've been struggling to recover from my cold for nearly 3 weeks now. There was a secondary infection or viral issue that grabbed hold of me about 5 days ago because my immune system was down. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with herpes simplex (the cold sore virus) having infected my nose and possibly the lining of my throat as it flares up in precisely the same way when it happens. At any rate, it's really painful and causes swallowing to be extremely difficult but I think I've seen the last of it as of today.

Unfortunately, just as I'm well enough to really start getting back on track, my PC contracts a virus. I've dealt with lots of viruses on the silly thing before. In fact, Gaelicum.A seems to be a semi-permanent visitor despite my shooing it off the drive once a week or so. This time, it was the Parite virus and I wasn't able to clear it off my external hard disk.

You other computer geeks know all about this kind of external disk. It's the sort you buy because you have all sorts of crap you just don't want to throw out but aren't sure is worth burning into a permanent archive. You stuff it full of things you occasionally deal with or random back-ups and generally use it as the equivalent of a huge, messy closet. You know you should sort it out and back-up the important files but you can't be bothered because that sort of organization would actually negate some of the value of having such a drive.

Unfortunately for me, this drive developed some sort of problem awhile ago which I never got around to dealing with. It couldn't be defragmented and it couldn't have any disk checks ran on it from Windows XP. My sister tells me she believes it has a bad sector but the drive has never shown any difficulties aside from refusing to have checks and a defrag ran so I ignored it. Essentially, one of the shelves in my closet was broken and I ignored it because the other shelves were just fine.

This bit me in the ass today because none of the Parite virus removal utilities can run properly to clean the disk. They all hit the same roadblock because of whatever has gone awry. Now, I have to deal with it. Instead of spending my first day of near wellness playing Guild Wars with my sister as I'd been looking foward to since just before the virus reasserted itself, I'll be spending it trying to sort through and burn all the data on a 160 GB drive to DVDs. As it is, I've already lost some of the data to infected files which I removed entirely so I guess that's sort of a "plus" as I don't have to question what to do with them.

The annoying thing about this problem is that it's exactly the sort of issue that I used to be able to run to my Mac to fix. It was my knight in shining armor when the PC refused to fix itself. If the PC wouldn't fix a disk/disc error, a Mac utility would. Now that the Mac OS and Windows speak much more similar languages, it doesn't work. In fact, the Mac would see the drive as "read only" when I removed it from the PC and plugged it into the Mac. It also refused to let me burn files from the drive. When the PC and Mac were near strangers waving their hands at each other and using sign language to convey the general meaning of a problem, the Mac would just work out what needed to be done and fix it rather than get just as confused by the problem as the PC. Those days are gone thanks to Stevie-baby and Mac OS X.

All of this was so frustrating that, once I finally got it set up to start doing burns, I decided to go off and do something more enjoyable, like clean the toilet.

Here's a fun geek fact, btw. "Disc" is used for CDs and DVDs (optical media) but "disk" is used for hard drives, removable media, and thumb drives. There is a spelling difference and it has meaning! It's not just some arbitrary difference.


Bigwaaagh said...

I've got my share of the flu this week, what remains is the cold. Nasty stuff...

Anyway, I've had 2 mirroring 250Gb drives in my pc since I had a nasty hard disk failure (probably bad sectors). The only way to keep your data safe at reasonable cost.

On my recently bought external disk I partitioned a Windows part in Fat32 (in stead of NTFS) to which MacOSX has full read and write capabilities. This way I can always control and check my entire drive with my Mac. Maybe using Fat32 the next time will save you some problems...

Leo said...

I used to be bugged by a reoccuring virus until I turned off system restore (or maybe McAfee finally got their stuff together and updated their virus definitions).

Shari said...

bigwaagh: I am using NTFS but I thought that was something one had to do or there were issues with large file sizes. If you have a file (such as a disc image) which is over 4 GB, won't you run into a roadblock with Fat32? I vaguely recall it can't accomodate a single file larger than 4 GB.

My Mac used to have full read and write privileges(the hard drive I needed to fix up is physically connected to a PC but the Mac and my husband's laptop PC had been accessing it as a shared disc as well) but it somehow lost that when I plugged it into the Mac physically (which made no sense to me but I figured it was part of the drive's sickness).

Leo: I've had system restore off for ages. I actually should turn it on but I know that running anti-virus apps sometimes doesn't help unless you turn it off. But thanks for mentioning it. I may not have known and it's handy to be given more infromation.