12 December 2008

Music, with a Query

When John was alive, we didn't ever listen to much music around the house. We had—still have—a nice setup involving an Apple AirPort Express that allows us to stream our iTunes library over our Bose Wave radio, but we usually only did that if we had friends over or needed to indulge an earworm. In general, the two of us preferred the sound of silence when we were puttering around the house.

Nonetheless, at some point, mostly because of the fact that our condo is tiny and we had nowhere to store all of our CDs in our living space, we undertook the massive project of transferring all of our music into iTunes. This took a while and, because John and I are both anal types who felt compelled to copy EVERY TRACK on EVERY CD we owned—even things we didn't like and would never listen to—it took up a ton of space on our hard drive.

To solve that problem, we got a LaCie external hard drive and transferred our entire iTunes library there. We set our iTunes preferences so that all new imports would be stored in the library on the external hard drive. All systems were go.

The system worked great the entire time John was alive. When John died, I basically stopped listening to music at all. It wasn't a conscious decision, exactly, it's just that I don't like background noise (even in the car and on the rare occasions that I get out for a run, I only listen to NPR) and it's not like I had time to sit around and enjoy some quiet time with some tunes. I got a small CD player/radio for the playroom and played the kids' music in there; I didn't open iTunes on our computer for months, probably over a year. 

A few weeks ago, I was doing some work on the computer in the evening after the kids went to bed and I decided, for whatever reason, to put on some music. I opened up iTunes, selected a song, and (you can see where this is going, I'm sure) was told that my selection could not be played because the file could not be found. I rebooted my computer and restarted the external drive. Nada. My desktop cannot find my external hard drive. My dad happened to be visiting at the time and he tried hooking the drive up to his laptop: nothing. I tried hooking the hard drive up to my laptop: no nothing there, either. 

Well, crap. That's annoying. Before I lug boxes of CDs up from the basement, it seems to make sense to try to recover the data on the drive. I have no idea where to go to do this, or how much it might cost. Readers? Suggestions? Ideas? Local ideas welcome (greater Boston), but it seems like maybe there's someplace I could mail it? Honestly, it might be easier for me to send the thing somewhere than to find time to take it someplace local. How crazy is that? But true.

In the meantime, I decided to toss my old-school, original 20GB iPod into my purse on Monday to take to work. We had more than 20GB of music in iTunes, so I don't have my whole library on the iPod, but I have almost 4,000 songs worth of music, and it's been fun and, not surprisingly, somewhat emotional to put it on shuffle and take things as they come. I just heard "Freedom" by Robbie Williams, and now I'm listening to Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time." Tori Amos was on earlier, and I've also listened to some Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Dave Matthews, and Outkast. When John and I merged our CD collections, we only had a few selections that overlapped, amazingly enough. So when music comes on, I identify it as mine or John's.  Robbie Williams? Mine, from a mix CD. Billy Joel? John's (I contributed the older BJ albums to our collection). Tori Amos? John. Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell were mine, as was Dave Matthews. Outkast was John. It's not that we didn't like each other's music, we just happened not to have collected the same things over the years.

Yikes! Something from the Braveheart soundtrack just came on! TOTALLY JOHN. I really hated that movie. We didn't always agree.

There is something satisfying and indulgent about getting lost in a song, putting on headphones and creating your own little world that blocks everything else out. I hope I can get my iTunes library back.


kate said...

I LOVE "for the longest time"! What a great song! Now I can't stop humming it!

Giovanna Diaries said...

I wish I could help but I'm a bit iTunes Stupid as it is. I'm grateful I'm able to function it at the level that I am. Ohhh, how our kids will make fun of us.
Hey, you gotta put the Once soundtrack on there!

electriclady said...

You could try DriveSavers (http://www.drivesavers.com/)--they're in northern CA so you would just mail it to them. They were recommended to me by the local Apple experts as a last resort when they (the local guys) couldn't recover data off my crashed hard drive. But they are EXPENSIVE--I got an estimate and decided my data wasn't worth the nearly $2000.

Mar said...

I'm sure there are cheaper places, but my IT people at work recommended this place www.ontrack.com and they were able to recover everything from our harddrive (which had previously been completely unreadable - as verified by two independent sources).

One tablespoon of spilled water on our CPU and we LOST OUR ENTIRE PHOTO/HOME VIDEO LIBRARY. Thousands and thousands of family photos (most of which were backed up only on shutterfly) and tons of priceless video clips of newborns, babies, toddlers. UGH. Also, all of our music. It was very expensive to recover ($1500 - literally) but I figured it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

I've used these guys in Cambridge multiple times (though not for data recovery). They're great.


Anonymous said...

Music is such a big part of our lives. I can't imagine life without it. There are times that I enjoy the quiet, but for the most part, there is always background music. I like jazz or classical playing in the background as we sit down to dinner. For some reason, it seems that we linger longer at the table and talk more when it's playing.
I remember when the kids were little and they would be picking at one another over a toy or what not, I'd slip in some Mozart and just sit back and watch how they started peacefully playing together. It was like magic.

karishma said...

if you have a techie friend who can help out with this, there is one alternative that is so cheap that it's totally worth they try if it doesn't work.

if the hard drive isn't making an obnoxious clicking noise, it's probably recoverable. it probably just means that the part of the drive that "reads" what's actually on teh drive isn't working right. get an external hard drive ENCLOSURE that matches the specifications of your external hard drive, take the actual hard drive out of your current enclosure, and hook it up to the new enclosure. then hook it up to your computer. it might work. (definitely get a techie friend to take a look. there are different sizes and types of enclosures, and you need to get the right one.)

i did this when my laptop hard drive failed. grand total of $9.95, and i got every little bit of my data back.

Watercolor said...

There is a computer co-op business here. They saved mine for about $25. Just look in the phone book for a computer place. Ask around for a good recommendation. It will cost you more to ship it somewhere than it will probably cost to have someone look at it.

Watercolor said...

OMG! $1500 and $2000! I am so glad I live here, lol! My laptop hard drive died and for $25 they got all the data off for me and put it on a jump drive I bought and gave them. Gotta love local places.

OTRgirl said...

I've seen those big price tags as well. Depends on what exactly is wrong.

I always used to have music, but Jrex doesn't like having background noise, so I've become accustomed to the silence. At work, part of my creative ritual is to plug my iPod buds into my ears and pretend I'm in another world. It really helps me get work done.

What A Card said...

Can you bring the laptop/hard drive over on Monday to book group? I bet TK will take a look at it...not sure if he'll be able to fix it, but he is a computer geek. At worst, you'll just be in the same "yep, it doesn't work" spot you're in now.

And funny about the music...I love Tori Amos! TK and I had doubles of almost every CD I owned. It was ridiculous...

BrooklynGirl said...

I hope you get your iTunes music back too.

I love mix tapes (ahem, CDs) and iTunes is just one giant mix tape to me. I love shuffling and being surprised by what comes up--and since I never listen to anything new, there are memories associated with every song.

Crash Course Widow said...

Yup, been here, done this....

The interesting thing is that I actually reconnected to music after Charley died, rather than (consciously or unconsciously) avoiding it. Without realizing I'd done it, I'd actually cut most music out of my life when Charley and I got together. It wasn't conscious or because Charley cared or anything; it's just that I had other things to get to pay attention to instead--listening to Charley's college basketball games on the radio, talking to him, trying to pick CDs that he wouldn't groan over. And it's also because I became a mom--I couldn't blast my stereo in the car and wail along when there was a baby's sensitive ears in the backseat.

But one of the first things I bought after Charley died was an MP3 player, and listening to specific songs (often on endless repeat) became such a torturous yet honest comfort in grief. I could listen to some song screaming about something that I emotionally connected to, and it felt honest and real and reflective of where I was at that day/week/month/year. It was only in hindsight over the last year or two that I finally realized that I'd actually given up a lot of things--music, dancing, writing--when I got married that have ended up being great comforts in grief. But I was gaining so much more in exchange--a wonderful husband, a beautiful baby, a fun & exciting life together--that I never paid any attention to the small changes and losses from the "old" me. But once he was gone, those things ended up filling in the holes again...something I never expected.

I've lately been letting my iPod do what it will with me, also putting in on shuffle. And yeah, it's been nice getting to escape and revisit old songs that I've liked but don't listen to anymore, especially ones that dated or related to certain things with Charley. But the music isn't an angst-driven outlet anymore, like in the first year or two; now it's just a nice reprieve and escape...like you said.

I got nuthin' for you in how to resurrect your hard drive. But let us know what solution you find, so I can file it away as useful info for the future. ;o)

Maria said...

Try gillware.com. Much more reasonably priced than the others. I used them a few years ago and they were very responsive and were able to recover about 2 years of pictures.

Kerry Lynn said...

ACK! Don't do anything! My external died a couple months ago. More than likely it's just the case's power supply that is bad. If no lights are coming on at all then that's most likely the issue. unscrew the case bring the insides to best buy and buy a new case...just make sure you get the correct size. The sales people SHOULD be able to help. If not take a picture of it and the connections and email it to me and I'll tell you what you need.
I was FREAKING out because every picture I took in 2007 (the year my kids were BORN) was on that hard drive. Thank GOD it was just the power supply.

Rev Dr Mom said...

When my hard drive crashed last winter and then the Kid lost the stuff we'd transferred to his computer, we found a program on line to get the data back, but it cost $200. The only good news in that is that you don't have to pay until you're sure you've found your data. If it wasn't for my pix, I'm not sure I would've paid it.

Good luck.

Lyndsey said...

I've never commented before (yay for delurking), but I just thought I'd suggest http//www.eprovided.com

Their site isn't always easy to navigate, but I and my aunt have both used them successfully. She had a camera's memory card damaged at the airport and they were able to recover about 95% of the images from it. Over the summer, my grandparents' cat knocked my laptop over, resulting in my USB flash drive being shoved INTO the laptop. The flash drive only had...every piece of writing I'd done in four years of college on it, so I was a little desperate to get it fixed. I think their evaluation is free (well, with the cost to ship it to them in Colorado), and they'll give you price quotes before they attempt to fix it. $800 later (they had to rebuild actual circuits in the flash drive...stupid cat), I have 100% of the data from my flash drive back. Not cheap, but they're good.

Hope you can get your music back :)

Anonymous said...

I *just* asked for a new power cord from LaCie and I received it within 3 days. I am under warranty for less than a month more, so I am hope it doesn't happen again.

To tell you the truth tho, I had not registered my product until I needed help and they ask you where and when you bought it but nothing else. You might be able to "be covered"

Do an internet search. . .they have a lot of power issues.

good luck!

Inkling said...

I too have a Mac and LaCie external hard drive. The Mac store we have here (on the west coast of Canada) is awesome at helping this totally non-tech person. (They didn't even laugh at me when I walked in and told them my brother recommended that I buy a "lacy" hard drive.) Sometimes I can't believe how much they are willing to help me when I know my questions sound less intelligent that ones your average preschooler could ask. Would your Mac store be willing to do the same if you took your laptop and hard drive in to them?

Anonymous said...

Geek Squad at Best Buy can get all the data off the drive and would be able to put in on cd's or dvd's.

Anonymous said...

Hi Snick,

Just wondering how everything was
going with Mr. Coffee? I don't
know if I missed an update since
before Thanksgiving. Hope all is
going well.

Sparky said...

I love Robbie Williams!

Well, this happened to me some time back too with my external hard drive. I had all my iTunes music "pointing" there. I contacted the company of my external hard drive (Maxtor) and it was free to send to them initially for an estimate...well, the estimate came back and it would be $700 to recover my pictures and music! I said, "no thank you , please send it back". So I posted an add on Craigslist and got LOTS and LOTS of people that offered to try and recover my data for way less (some were only $100). One guy had an actual legit website and business for doing this and wouldn't charge unless he was able to recover the data (he cost $300).

Long story short, I never coughed up the money, and actually since all my music was on my iPod (i don't have as much as you!) I was able to transfer it from my iPod back to my computer's C: drive. And, I don't miss the pictures I had on there, so I guess I can live without them.

But I have my hard drive still sitting in the box and if I ever feel like forking over money to try and recover the data someday, I guess I can.

To sum up:
Most estimates on Craigslist from computer gurus ranged from $100 to $300 to recover my data. I suggest posting a Craigslist ad in the technical section I believe it was, and see what you come up with!

Good luck

Val said...

I second karishma's comment. "Twin" A pulled my laptop of the top of the fridge (where I stashed it to keep away from them of course)and ALL my pics were on there. I called those "recovery" places as well and got those ridiculous quotes of $2,000, I bought the hard drive enclosure from Tiger Direct for $10.00 and got everything off the broken drive myself.
P.S. I am not a computer geek at all, I just googled the facts.

Sorry Snich... said...

Hey everyone. BACK UP YOUR VALUABLE FILES!!!!!!!

Roads said...

Getting back to your music is a big step. I had no music in my life for months, years, after Jenny died.

And then it gradually came back. And you know the really crazy thing? All those really annoying songs she liked which I couldn't stand? Well -- now they're mine as well.

I never thought that would happen. But it really did.

Spirits up.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Before coughing up money to recover your music, or even buying a new power supply for your hard drive, put it in the freezer for 2 hours. I am not joking. I don't know how or why it works, but it does. Put it in the freezer, leave it for 2 hours, plug it back in and see if it works. If it doesn't, you haven't lost anything, if it does, free recovery.

Good luck!

beyond said...

oh my. we have 3 or more LaCie external hard drives, and always thought they were the best. i guess it's true when people say you need back up for the back up...

amber said...

i'm not tech savy enough to have any answers, but i hope you get the full library back.

my husband credits himself with vastly improving my music knowledge after we started dating. he opened me up to many different kinds of music for which i'll always be grateful. there are definitely songs that i identify with him and even with specific moments in our relationship. somehow, music can keep those moments crisp, when time would have normally caused them to dull a bit. funny how that works, isn't it?

Lunatic Mapmaker said...

I might be able to help...see my email. -jsk

ridorama121 said...

good post