Now Upgraded With Shiny, Small Things!

Dear people of the Internet,

You’ll have noticed in the past few weeks that the domain has been somewhat missing from the Internet. This is because this site is hosted on an old MacMini G4, complete with a thoroughly ancient spinning hard drive which has, it seems, completed its useful life in this world.

There was less of this going on and more wanting to throw it at the wall...
There was less of this going on and more wanting to throw it at the wall…

I say that because about two weeks ago it started to make horrible clattering noises late at night, as the hard drive slowly started to dismantle itself from the inside out. This wouldn’t have been so much of an issue were it not resident in our bedroom closet and I was not the kind of person who feels an immediate urge to fix things when they go wrong.

So, after a week of tinkering about (and hard-drive diagnostics) I concluded the server was no more. So I availed myself the opportunity to get a new hard drive.

Of course, the logical things at this point would have been to push a Raspberry pi into service, replacing the old Debian-based G4 server with a nice new shiny Raspberry Pi 2. But I just love getting these older machines working. And just as I love the idea that my car may run for years, decades even, given love and care, so too do I think that computers should keep on going strong.

So I headed over to Amazon and purchased an IDE to Compact Flash adaptor, and a suitable 32 GB compact flash memory card. Just as cheap as an IDE spinning disk and in fact cheaper than an IDE SSD, the system seems to be working just fine with the current load, although it’s early days. I know, given time, the compact flash will show signs of wearing out just as a regular drive would.

The difference? This server is laughably small in size and in its load. I’m working on hosting a second site on it soon, but even that will be, hopefully, small.

I also cache the site using CloudFlare, so I’m hoping we won’t see a huge amount of problems.

It was once alive, but now it's dead Jim. Dead.
It was once alive, but now it’s dead Jim. Dead.

The only issue? One of my posts from shortly after the move has been lost. I’m working to resurrect it from the caches, but it may take a while to recover. Watch. This. Space.

As for everything else? The past few months have been tough in the Gordon-Bloomfield family. Very tough, in fact, for reasons that I’m not going to go into here. Let’s just say that a family member needs a lot of support, and it’s taking a lot out of us to give that support. The things you do for love…

I’ve also had not one but three hard drives fail. The second hard drive to fail was actually the one in this server, and the first was one to go in my work-based TransportEvolved main production machine. Not being one to remain quiet about my woes, I mused openly online that it would be great if all of my computer hard drives were made by HGST, since the only reliable drives in my system these days are Hitachi/HGST ones. My Tweet got the attention of HGST, who informed me that they’d like to help out by sending me two brand-new 6TB drives. I shall await them with joy.

The third drive? That was my family server, which houses all of the Plex media. Luckily, we noticed that was on the way out before it failed completely, allowing us to purchase a 5TB HGST drive (see what I did there?) and back up all the data onto it. Only a few TV shows are now lost forever, but I’m hopeful I can pull them from other backups elsewhere.

My final piece of tech news? Amazon Cloud Drive seems to be a good backup medium, especially if like me, you have a lot of stuff to backup. The only downside? Speed. It’s woefully slow. But combine it with Arq Backup (which I happen to own a copy of) and it seems reasonably robust. I even used it to recover some of the lost files from my failing family server.

Enough ranting. Onwards to more fires to fight.