5232 Bad Sectors

On 10/27 at 2:30am, just 30 minutes before I needed to dial in to work to do an important maintenance, my personal computer did the worst thing possible: the hard disk shat its bed and died. Completely gone. Blindingly unreadable. I was sunk. All my data! This machine is mission-control for what I do in my hobbies and my life. If it’s gone, my life is interrupted. It’s critical.

I had no choice but to break out my work laptop and try to continue on a single tiny screen (as opposed to two big ones).

I keep backups on an external drive about once a month (usually before I leave town for a weekend), which is fine, mostly. But I use a tool called BackInTime (a FOSS clone of Apple’s Time Capsule) to keep daily snapshots. I had the sick feeling that I only backed up my home folder. Luckily, Drunk Sysadmin struck again a year ago and changed the backup policy to include the whole system instead of just my home folder.

So, along with all the stress of my job and the knowledge that the machine that I rely on is dead, remembering that I had whole-system backups, including all of the config files for the apps and services that I rely on with my desktop, made it a little easier to deal with.

After scrambling around for a fresh hard disk, I reinstalled with the latest Ubuntu LTS, created a temporary account, installed BackInTime, installed NFS so I could get back to my backup fileserver, and restored my entire home folder. Unfortunately, the policy doesn’t include my music or videos, but the external backup drive had all that, plus it was mostly already on my fileserver. So, after cobbling all the configs and files from scattered sources, it’s all back together.

46 hours after kernel panic due to failure to read the swap device, I have a functional desktop again. I’m back in business.

Kernel Panic shows failure to read swap device - dead drive
Kernel Panic shows failure to read swap device – dead drive
Everything’s there, and it looks just like before the crash.

Like I said, BackInTime saved my ass. You have nooo idea.