Hard drive crash

9 11 2006

I’ve been getting daily emails about the state of my server ever since it was installed a couple of years ago. But about 3 or 4 weeks ago, I started noticing some unexplained errors, such as backups not being done, then a bad sector on the hard drive etc. I’ve been trying to contact the guy who put it together and who manages it remotely, but he seems to have dropped off the planet.

So after speaking to the sys admin guy at one of my workplaces, I bit the bullet and scheduled a time for a local company who deals in Microsoft Small Business Server and focuses on home and small business computer systems to come in and take a look at a few issues. Neil from PC Guru (http://www.pcguru.com.au) arrived right on time at 5:00pm on Tuesday afternoon (that’s always a big plus in my book!). He took a look at the logs and said what I was dreading – that he wouldn’t look at the other issues until he got the bad sector thing sorted… and he suspected a dying hard drive.

He discovered that the mirrored array wasn’t mirroring at all – and hadn’t been for some time. Then he tried to backup the data on to my desktop (which has plenty of space). But the backup script was one of the errors. So he tried a soft reboot, but then it went into Checkdisk mode (which he was trying to avoid until he got the data off), reporting a number of bad sectors. On boot up, there was a Registry Hive error (a nasty!!!). So Neil said that he’d take the server with him as he didn’t want to risk it and they would attempt to clone off the data in the office on Wednesday, but meantime replacement hard drives were required. It was now 6:30pm.

On Wednesday morning Neil called me with hard drive prices, and told me that he’d started the clone last night. Later that day I was called and told the cloning was still happening and that the ETA for my server was Thursday. And today I got told that were able to get the data off successfully – yay! The bad news was that the mirrored drive was totally dead, and the main drive was in a death roll (my words, not theirs). So two replacement 320GB hard drives later, and Aaron arrived this afternoon (on time!) to fit it all back together.

Unlike previous occasions when the server’s been down for whatever reason, this was absolutely painless. Everything just worked! The internet connected, the printer worked, network connections re-established by themselves, Exchange Server went and collected the email from the ISP as it should, and so on.

I’ve been very impressed with them to date, so much so that I have taken up one of their pre-paid plans. The things that have impressed me most have been:

  • Good customer experience from the very first phone call
  • They turned up on time
  • They knew their stuff, but they didn’t baffle me with techno mumbo-jumbo – it was at the level I required and understood (which is probably more than many, but they figured that straight up)
  • They dealt with me in a professional way at every step
  • They contacted me about what was happening – I didn’t have to call them to find out
  • They gave me a fair deal on the price of the new hard drives – and the hard drives were either already in stock or they had a supplier they got them from first thing Wednesday morning
  • They had no problem working out of normal business hours, and offer a 24/7 service
  • They are local! In fact they’re about 5 minutes drive away from us in South Perth!
  • They set up another appointment with me to deal with all the other small issues that have been annoying me for some time – and again, had no problem with the time being at the end of the working day

I haven’t had such good customer experience from a company for a long time – I hope that they continue to maintain it as they grow.

And if you’re in Perth, I wholeheartedly recommend them just based on this brief experience so far. Details: http://www.pcguru.com.au; 1300 724 878

Whirling dervishes

9 11 2006

Our house is now on the market and the professional photographers come in tomorrow, then the first “home open” is next Saturday (18th November). Today we had a landscaping company come in and “do” the garden – clean up the straggly stuff, trim, mulch, plant new plants and basically give the front garden – especially – a make-over, including a proper step at the gate.

They arrived at 8:30am and finished around 3:00pm. There were only three of them, but boy! have they made a difference! They weren’t cheap by a long shot, but they were quick and did a great job. I took some “before” photos this morning, but haven’t taken any “after” ones yet as the server was being reinstalled (more in next post) and it was raining this afternoon.

As I’ve always said, you only have one chance to make a first impression – and our front garden is that chance. Hope it’s all worth it…

Before and after photos…

Front garden - before
Front garden – before

Front garden - after
Front garden – after

Side - before
Side – before

Side - after
Side – after

Full set of photos (including some taken by professional photographer of the inside)