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Oct
28
2012

First SSD Killed. Yay.

At some point in 2009, I bought an Intel x25 Postville G2. Everyone was scared that SSDs would break down too quickly and I almost made the error of buying one of OCZ’s Vertex drives, but in the end I picked the more expensive Intel drive and it worked brilliantly.

This weekend, 3 years later, it did break down. It had no bad sectors and the SMART status showed only few internal reallocations due weak blocks. But from one reboot to the next, it prevented my BIOS screen from even showing up (and what options do you have left if, with the SSD plugged in, you can’t even turn on your PC…). In one word: bricked.

Of course, like any part of computer hardware, it failed at the most inappropriate moment. It stood by while I installed Windows 8. Kept working while I configured my email client and accounts, browser and bookmarks, VoIP connection and productivity apps. It endured while I installed and configured Visual Studio 2012, setting up all my preferences. And neither did it break when I installed my SSL certificates or began to organize my task bar and start screen.

No, the moment it failed was when I had set everything up to completion and rebooted with my Acronis TrueImage CD to make a backup of my system drive :)

Luckily, after working with PCs for twenty years I trust neither hardware or software to work. All my workstation’s important data resides on a RAID-1 and I regularly get rid of the contents of my system partition by restoring an image, so losing my system partition is fairly routine. Yawn.

If both my workstation’s RAID-1 drives should fail at the same time, I’ve got them mirrored on my home server, RAID-5. And if my house explodes, I’ve got the most important things synced nightly to my dedicated server, hundreds of kilometers away. And if my house explodes at the same time as the data center, I’ve still got the absolutely vital stuff in cloud storage :)

So, well played little SSD, but you’ve merely inconvenienced me with another Windows install.

Update: I’m now running with an old hard drive until my new SSD arrives. It looks like I can no longer activate Windows 8. Glad I paid $40 and spent 12 hours installing stuff to end up with nothing. But Microsoft tricked me into buying the UK English version when I wanted US English anyway, so good riddance :-/

Update 2: Wow, finding a way to contact Microsoft support by a way other than by telephone is outright impossible. Just look at their site: “Contact Microsoft – How can we help you?” – That’s a taunt! Every single link leads in circles until you end up in some FAQ telling you the same 4 unhelpful things. Aargh! I’ll wait for my new SSD and go by phone. Depending on the outcome of that call, I’ll decide if I’ll radically change my opinion about Windows 8.

Update 3: Calmed down now. The activation issue was because I tried to activate a clean install (I installed onto an empty drive, after all) with an upgrade license. The Metro activation UI didn’t tell this, but the desktop activation dialog gave me an error code that could be googled. The trick was to either install an earlier Windows version before Windows 8 or to set the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\OOBE\MediaBootInstall to 0 temporarily. I also have acquired a US English version of Windows now.

3 comments

  1. craftworkgames says:

    We had all sorts of trouble with Acronis backup at work so when I read that it failed at that point I laughed. In my opinion Acronis is the spawn of the devil that feeds on the tears of orphans so maybe, just maybe you should pick a different backup solution next time.

  2. Cygon says:

    I’ve been using TrueImage for the past 9 years on all kinds of hardware and it worked perfectly all the time. In this case I can be very sure it’s not due to Acronis because, despite my dramatization above, I had not closed the DVD drive yet, wanting to do another touch-and-go boot before really backing up :)

    What backup solution are you using?

    I’m still on Acronis 2011 and may have to pay $50 for the upgrade, so as long it’s cheaper and not Norton Ghost, I could give it a try :D

  3. Darren Evans says:

    I’d have gone with the more controversial and sensationalist headline:

    “WINDOW 8 KILLED MY SSD!!!”

    It’s how the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper would have reported it anyway, complete with caps AND the several exclamation marks ;)

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