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August 14, 2020

War Stories: Done Dirty By a Double Whammy


I’m in recovery mode right now here at Chez Tittel. My production PC is in a world of hurt. I’ve lost Internet access to my UWP apps, and I can’t connect with my Outlook server, either. I went to restore my most recent backup and — BLAMMO! — that’s where the double whammy comes in. The drive where my backups live (8TB Toshiba) isn’t showing up in Explorer or diskmgmt.exe, either. Fortunately, I’m able to see all my backups in MiniTool Partition Wizard’s File Recovery tool, and I’m in the process of rebuilding the drive. The good news is: looks like I’ll be able to get to a backup. The bad news is: it’s going to take nearly 14 hours to rebuild the disk (one of the downsides of a big honkin’ disk, to be sure).

It’s Just a Matter of Time

Too much time, alas, before I can get back to where I started out this morning. I made sure I had my 9 AM backup done before I started messing around with my production PC this morning. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to use that backup to put things back to rights as soon as the drive rebuild completes. If not, it’s probably time for a clean install on that machine anyway. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and will make sure that I have an extra backup on a smaller drive the next time I launch into some system shenanigans. I have a number of USB mSATA drive enclosures at my disposal, with capacities of 250 GB to nominal 1 TB. They’re reasonably fast, too. Had I spent the extra 10 minutes it would have taken to make the extra backup I would probably already be fully restored. All I can say is: it won’t happen to me again.

It just goes to show that even if you *THINK* you’re protected from harm, Murphy can be ingenious enough to work around your protections from time to time. I can’t say I expected this kind of double whammy, but it surely does not come as a surprise. That’s just the way things go sometimes, when you work with Windows. Good thing I keep all my important files on external disk drives (with their own backups), and that I can keep accessing e-mail via Outlook Web Access (OWA). That should be enough to keep me working until my repairs are effected, or I’ve rebuilt my production desktop.

It’s always something, right?  I’ll update this story with its actual conclusion once the drive repairs are done and I find out if I can restore my 9 AM backup or not. Stay tuned!

Follow-up [Added May 12 early afternoon]

It ended up taking the full 14 hours to rebuild the damaged 8TB Toshiba drive. But when it finished I was able to save the back-up I needed to another drive, using the MiniTool Partition Wizard data recovery tool. I used this in concert with the Macrium Rescue Media to restore a snapshot from 9 AM yesterday (my time) to put my system back to rights. I also had to use the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant’s Outlook troubleshooter to restore access to my Win10.Guru Exchange email account. As it turned out, this required creating a new Outlook profile for that account, which took care of my inability to access the server (essential for downloading/uploading email). Right now, I’m still having difficulties with UWP apps. But everything else is working OK. I’ll see my way clear of this soon — I hope!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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