Monday, December 12, 2016

There's an Alien in the House

So this time I have a reason... well... excuse for not posting anything in a while. Our main PC went to the big motherboard in the sky. It started acting weird, so I did what any long-time Windows user does whenever your PC does something unexpected: I rebooted. The boot process hung at the BIOS screen. I said to myself, "Self; this is not good." But before I gave up on it entirely, I figured I'd let another set of eyes take a look at it. He didn't have any better luck than I did, even trying to boot from a DVD. He cracked open the case and right next to the CPU were a couple puffed up blackened capacitors. Really not good.

[Insert a three-day gap here. Explanation to follow.]

I hunted around for a replacement and ended up ordering last year's Alienware PC from Amazon. I set it up, plugged everything in, (and here is the explanation for the three-day gap in writing this post) then watched my Drobo choke and die. Or so I thought. After some fiddling, I got it to come back to life, but there was clearly something wrong. I started the process of moving all my files off the Drobo and onto the C drive of Alien. That took a full 48 hours to complete. Once my files were all safe, I could look into what was going on with my Drobo. Turns out, one of the drives failed and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. What caused my panic was having it connected to a new PC that did not have the monitoring software installed yet. Once I calmed down, I simply removed the failed drive and inserted a new one I had sitting around and all is well again.

While I was still in panic mode, thinking I would have to replace my Drobo, I did something that I've been considering for several years. My Drobo is the original model that attaches to a single computer via USB, which I then share to my network so Debbie can use it from her computer. The problem is that means my computer has to be left on 24/7. I've been looking at Network Attached Storage (NAS) as a solution, but the Drobo NAS's are very pricey. While in a blind panic, I grabbed a cheapie Western Digital NAS. We have one of these at my job and it works pretty well. I figure I can move all the files from the Drobo to the NAS, then use the Drobo as a backup. All the hard drives in it are the same age; if one failed, the others are likely not far behind so I would rather not be completely dependent on it.

In any case, we are mostly back to normal other than finding and installing all the little bits of software I've accumulated over the years. Much of it may wait until I actually have a need for it; half the software on my old PC hasn't been run in several years. I'm also taking this opportunity to change office suites; we've run Open Office for a decade-plus, but I haven't really been happy with it since Apache took it over. I installed the Libre Office fork of the same software on Alien. We'll see how it goes. I'm leaving Debbie's PC alone for now, just to make sure there's no weirdness. We don't have any complex spreadsheets or databases, so I don't expect any problems, but if they do occur, better to have them happen to me than to Debbie while she's trying to work.

Well, off in search of software and installation keys. Wheee!

No comments: