Blaise Alleyne

The death of a laptop (hard drive)

Blaise Alleyne at

I think the hard drive on my ThinkPad T61 is totally dead.

It's a 750 GB drive that was still my primary digital home... I have my files backed up, but I'm not even sure where to put them now...

  • Do I get another large drive? I'm addicted to the speed of the SSD I've been using in my X60, and had barely been touching my T61 as a result...
  • Do I move my files to ownCloud? I'm using it more and more, but a bit wary of putting important stuff behind a web accessible login page...
  • Do I move to my living room computer / server? This is where my backups sit already... access via SFTP or something from whatever machine I'm using?
  • Do I refurbish or abandon the T61? The fan needs repair (or maybe just cleaning), and the keyboard has a few serious issues (sticky e and space bar, non-working PgUP...)... but otherwise...

Also, kinda sentimental... that hard drive housed my first GNU/Linux install, which carried me from Ubuntu 6.06, through failed upgrades, across three physical machines, for a good 7 years. (Though, I'd stopped using it daily in favour of Debian and an SSD... so maybe it's about time.)

This probably forces only the third time I've every reorganized my digital home base in my life... the first time from a family 386 to my own Windows machine, then the second time when switching to GNU/Linux 7 years back...

deep breath

One step at a time...

Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) shared this.

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@Douglas Perkins: Right, that's kind of what I mean... I shouldn't have said "log in" in particular... it's more that I'm hesitant to expose all my personal files to a web-accessible PHP application!

Blaise Alleyne at 2015-06-24T13:13:05Z

Lars Wirzenius likes this.

@Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) oh, cool, I didn't know those existed! Will check that option out for sure...

The ThinkPad T61 has an UltraBay which has an optical drive in it now, but I can potentially use that for a second hard drive too... I was considering the dual hard drive thing before... but a combined drive might be simpler.

Blaise Alleyne at 2015-06-24T13:15:45Z


A 1TB hard drive will cost you about $60, and it should last for 5+ years. SSDs have lower latency, are silent, and suitable for the professional who has more cash to burn.

The main reason I can't imagine running off a non-SSD anymore is that these laptops are also old.

For me, spending some extra cash on an SSD for my X60 was actually a money saver because it made my X60 lightning fast and killed any immediate need for a new machine. I would avoid my T61 with the non-SSD a lot of the time because, even though they had otherwise similar specs, it'd be ~5min to logged in session versus 30 seconds, and everything else just felt so painful and slow... The SSD was the single biggest boost to performance I've ever made, and made me quite content to continue using these old 2007 machines.

A local file server is essential if you intend to keep backups, whereas a local cloud server is more helpful if you're setting up a media library for family members etc.

My living room computer is kinda of all of the above... it receives backups via rsync/ssh, I can connect to it via SFTP (locally or remotely) as a file server, but it's also running ownCloud (and a few other web applications). I'm somewhat tempted to make that my home base... just access it via SFTP when I need to get into long-term storage files or something, maybe even just stream my music collection... but I'm really not sure yet!

Thanks for the feedback. :)

Blaise Alleyne at 2015-06-24T13:22:27Z

@Laura Arjona true, true. Maybe the first step is just to get my backup accessible so I can use my files and buy some time to think about fixing up the laptop. It's the keyboard bit that seemed a bit expensive to repair on a 2007 machine, but I only started looking into it... If the repairs aren't too expensive, I'm much more inclined to get it working well again rather than look at a new machine... (It's pretty freedom friendly hardware, aside from the wireless card...)

Blaise Alleyne at 2015-06-24T13:26:19Z