Tuesday, August 27, 2013

EaseUS fixed the unallocated issue

August 27, 2013

In Windows 7 "Disk Management," "New simple volume" was greyed out when I tried to create a partition in an unallocated space on a drive. Actually, I wanted just one partition total, but I'd given up on that. But how to create a volume when it's greyed out?

I googled it and found advice to use the free utility called EaseUS Partition Master. And the person in the forum I found had his problem solved. I didn't.

I thought the drive was bad.

After a wee drink or two, I stared down EaseUS again, and noticed that it was queing my requests and calling them "pending." I had noticed that earlier, but erroneously thought they were pending because maybe the disk was bad.

Wrongo. There's a gotcha in EaseUS for smooth-brained persons like me -- You have to click "apply" once you've queued up all your pending requests.

So I deleted the dozen or so idiotic desperate requests I had made, and just asked for one thing -- to create a new partition.

And it worked. And I was able to get one partition for the entire drive. Color me stupid.

AcomData Samba USB 3.0 3.5-Inch SATA Hard Drive Enclosure does not support a 3TB drive

August 27, 2013

I recently refurbished a 3 TB Western Digital Caviar Green drive, and planned to put it in an enclosure. I bought the AcomData Samba USB 3.0 3.5-Inch SATA Hard Drive Enclosure SMBXXXU3E-BLK from an Amazon Marketplace seller.

The drive, when hooked to my Windows 7 computer with a Sabrent SATA USB 3.0 adapter, works fine.

But when I put it in my new AcomData enclosure, it failed.

Here were the symptoms:
1. Couldn't see the drive in "my computer"
2. I could see the drive in "disk management," but it threw this message: "You must initialize a disk before logical disk manager can access it."

After two hours of googling, I threw up my hands and arranged a return through Amazon Marketplace. 

In response to my request for an RMA, the Marketplace seller called me to find out what the problem is, and his first suggestion was to try a lower capacity drive. Sure enough, when I tried a 750 GB drive, it worked.

He said, "I've seen this before." It's too bad I didn't contact him sooner, as the googling had only led to "your drive is bad" which it wasn't. Curious that the seller knew right away what the problem was. Maybe he should advertise the fact that his costly enclosure doesn't support 3 TB? I later found a cheaper enclosure from proper, that does work with 3 TB.

Also curious that this enclosure specifically stated that it supports USB 3.0. For that reason,  I never dreamed it would be so back-level in terms of the capactiy of the hard drive it would support.

I wanted my return shipping fees covered, but the seller rightly pointed out he's not the manufacturer, he's only the seller, so it's kinda my problem that the product doesn't do what I need. However, being an eager seller who wants a high rating, he offered a discount for my troubles, so I'm keeping the device. And I'm still waiting for the promised 10 percent refund, but I'm sure it will come.

And I've ordered two of the better enclosures, as I actually have two 3 TB drives leftover from a crashed Buffalo linkstation which neither I nor Buffalo could fix, yet the actual drives are still good. That's how all this started to begin with. Two perfectly good 3 TB drives.

The new ones are Mediasonic. See the link above.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prep extra hard drives to sell using Windows

I've had some hard drives lying around because I don't have a drill to put them to death before taking them to the recycle center. Finally I've gotten around to developing a system for wiping them clean and selling them.

I use Sabrent 3.0 to SATA Hard Drive Adapter to plug them into my desktop computer so I can do my software magic on them. This model is backward compatible to USB 20.0. It does not support IDE, but that's fine with me as I don't plan on selling any IDES anyway. There is another model that supports IDE.

This one supports SATA and the larger SSD. For the smaller SSD, I bought a little device that connects to the Sabrent that fits a smaller SSD which I fished out of my husband's old Lenovo X300. All told, I spent around $20, and expect to make that back on the first sale of a hard drive.

Here are the steps I devised for safe, secure, preparation of a hard drive to sell

  1. Open the start menu in Windows and look for "create and format hard drive partitions." You will see the "disk management" window open.

  2. Set up the Sabrent so that it's got its usb end plugged into your computer, the power adapter is plugged into the wall, and the disk attachment is snugly fit to the hard drive that you are about to format. You should see a blue light on the device. You should see Windows install a device driver the first time you use the Sabrent.

  3. In the disk management window you should see your hard drive come up. It may have more than one volume on it. A volume is another name for a partition.

  4. Being very careful that you don't accidentally work with your own system drive (that would be a disaster) carefully delete each volume until there are none remaining.

  5. Then do an NTFS format on the whole drive. This can be done in the disk management window, or alternatively, it can be done in the more usual way by going into computer-->right click on the drive you want-->click on format. Either way, don't do the quick format. Do the long and tedious format. Recently I formatted a 3 terabyte drive, and it took two days.

  6. After the format has completed, use your favorite free utility to wipe the drive. Again, make sure you're not wiping yoru system drive. I have only found a few utilities that will wipe a drive other than the system drive. The one I use is Eraser. I just open computer-->right click on the drive--select "eraser" from the menu.

  7. There's some controversy out there about "how many wipes" you really need. Gutman has been called into question as the gold standard, so I'm not going to give you any advice on which kind of wipe to use. Erase offers plenty of options.

Tips to Speed things up
  • run this whole production from a spare computer (one that's fast)
  • close all unnecessary applications and background processes
  • using task manager, change the priority of this task to realtime
  • use a computer with usb 3.0

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

B&H Photo has feet of clay

B&H Photo has an excellent reputation for customer service, but no company is perfect, and I saw that today, when I called to arrange an exchange.

I told the B&H rep that I've been on the phone three times with Buffalo and can't get the device to work. The rep told me I couldn't return the item because I was missing one piece of paper from the manufacturer.
He argued with me when I asked for a manager. I insisted.

Then he put me on hold, came back and explained he was "making an exception." I then informed him that the piece of paper is available as a pdf (I looked it up while on hold) and he interrupted to explain his policy, which had nothing to do with my giving him good information.
I asked for cross shipment, but he told me it has to be a return and a new purchase. When we started arranging the return, only then did he catch onto the fact that the item was defective. He intimated that he did not realize that when he told me I could not return my itme without one particular piece of paper.
When he asked if there's anything else he could do for me, I told him I was not happy with the service I received today.
He acted like he wanted to know why "so he could improve," but every time I tried to explain it to him, he argued with me.
After I got off the phone with him, I called the company back to make sure he had done everything right. The second guy told me that once the defective device arrives, I will get my new one.
I told him that's not what we arranged, and he proceeded to explain to me the difference between a return and an exchange, and that I was doing a return. Well...right. So why did he say what he said? He told me taht I am indeed correct, that the new one will ship today.
The issues here:
1. You don't refuse to take back a return because one piece of paper is missing. 
2. The piece of paper in question is a pdf that's on the web.
3. You don't tell your customer "let's listen to the recording together" especially when you're wrong.
4. You don't say "I'm making an exception" when it's something as minor as a single piece of paper. That makes customers feel insecure about the service.
5. You don't tell a customer who just arranged a return and a new order that you'll send their order after you receive their return.
6. You don't argue when a customer is giving you constructive feedback.
7. You recognize that this is your job; but for your customer, they're geting precious time wasted. Hanging on the phone with you is not their job. Rather, it's cutting into their work time.
By the way, that one piece of paper was an advertisement for a related product, but not necessary for the functioning of the device.

Buffalo Linkstation Rep has deaf ears

If you have occasion to call support for Buffalo Linkstation, be aware there is one rep who doesn't listen to his customers. He seemed constitutionally incapable of hearing his customer's questions. He was also unable to help me brainstorm. He seemed only able to spew monologues, some of which were irrelevant to my need, thus wasting my time.

His deaf ear was so bad that he couldn't hear my request to escalate to his manager. He said that if I didn't let him talk, he'd get his manager, and I agreed that I did want his manager. He continued talking, and I kept trying to ask for his manager. Then he hung up.

I have never had such a bad customer experience in my life, and I hope he gets fired as a result of this blog entry, or better yet, because the call was recorded. He's bad for the company.

When I called back, I got Josh, and he was fine. The company needs to listen to both calls. Back to back, the two calls might make a great training tape, as the contrast is so stark that it could seem staged. But it's not!

I must say, though, that Josh, who was also my original contact yesterday, should have told me that it could take more than a day for the software to run its course. This other annoying guy informed me "oh it can take several days" to do the vigorous erase that the Buffalo Linkstation was doing.

Had I known that, I'd have immediately returned the item rather than wait what Josh thought would be only a day. Now I'm delayed even further in getting my backup set up. I have to wait for another one to arrive in the mail, which I arranged through B&H Photo.

Oh and I'm none too happy about the fact that the original one died last week, only a few months out of warranty.  I got the sense that this is unusual, but dang.

Here's a tip: Don't issue an "erase" from the Buffalo Linkstation IP Panel. It can take days.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Buffalo Linkstation Read Error is often false

My Buffalo LinkStation was a doorstop

Don't waste your money on a new Buffalo Linkstation, when there could be nothing wrong but a need for a firmware update. Even if you "tried that already," you may not have done it right.

I learned from calling Buffalo that there's an easy, free fix, for nearly all "read errors." It turns out those are usually false errors, and that the firmware instructions can only be obtained by talking to the nice guy or gal on the phone.   

Here were the subtle hints that something was wrong:

Sources of these messages include email (because I'm signed up for notifications) and the Buffalo NAS Navigator 2 utility.

  1. My Buffalo Linkstation could not be found on the network 
  2. RAID Error Notification
    HDD error occurred
    Target array:RAID Array 1 (md2)
    RAID array can not be mounted.
  3. DISK Error Notification
    HDD error occurred
    Disk(s) the error occurred:"Disk 1"
    (sda) READ sector:3841073152 count:4
    Disk writing error
    Continuous backup is recommended
  4. Emergency mode -- update the firmware or contact support
  5. Sometimes the orange light was flashing, sometimes the red light was flashing

The Lesson: Call Buffalo First!

Buffalo Linkstation Read Errors are often false, says one of their reps while on the phone with me. "Usually, once we have the customer update the firmware, they don't call back."

But hey, it's not so easy to update the firmware. 

The instructions I found online were insufficient. Once I called Buffalo, I found the rep to be quick with more involved instructions. Then, once the firmware was updating, he gave me a case number, told me it might take about twenty minutes for the firmware update to complete, and that I should call him back if there's still a problem.

My bad luck: It didn't work for me

In my case, the firmware update didn't solve the problem. Now the unit was working for a while, then powering down in order to secure the data.

Both hard drives were bad, says the Buffalo rep. But he said it's unusual.

  • Mine is the LS-WX6.0TL/R1. That's the 6TB (2 x 3TB) LinkStation Duo Media Server (NAS) 
  • I don't use this for a company; it's just for my kids so we have an in-home backup target
  • If you're considering buying your first one, this same model comes in smaller sizes down to 1 terabyte (the link above will take you to all the choices)