Where the hell is my laptop hard drive?
January 16, 2013 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I have lost my laptop's internal HD. Please help me find it.

This going to get convoluted, so be prepared.

My wife and I both have MacBook pros. Let's call the internal drives HD1 and HD2 respectively.

HD1 was being backed up on a Time Machine volume. Let's call it HD3.

HD1 failed, so as a stopgap I bought a new external drive (HD4) and managed to restore from HD1 and HD3.

HD4 then failed after being dropped. I bought a new drive (HD5), managed to restore everything on to it, and put it in my wife's MacBook. HD4's enclosure was destroyed in the process.

The logic board then failed. So I swapped out HD2 from my laptop on my workbench and swapped in HD5, so my wife could use my laptop while hers was in the shop.

I put a HD in her laptop so they could burn test it. I THINK it was HD4 which was kinda sorta working.

We just got the laptop back so I went up to me workbench and took HD5 out of my laptop and put it back in hers.

So far, so good. She's happy, all her stuff is there, life is good.

I go back upstairs and I put what I think is HD2 back in my laptop. Only it won't boot and I realize I've put in HD1, which I saved just in case. So i swap that out and put in the other hard drive sitting on the workbench. Only that turns out to be HD3. Wtf? OK, it must be THIS one. No, that's HD4.

At which point there are no more HDs.

HD2 is gone. But as far as I know all I did was take it out of my laptop and put on the workbench. No computer was ever opened anywhere else. I have no recollection of moving any HD anywhere else.

I am left with the strange feeling that I am missing something. I know this is the nerd version of I lost my keys, but can anyone spot what happened?
posted by unSane to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How old are you, did you check the 'fridge and pantry?
posted by raildr at 7:07 PM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Fair question, fridge and pantry clear, not that old.

Knowing myself I will have done something extremely logical. I almost never lose things and when I do I can almost always figure out where and when. That's why it bugs me. Trust me, this is a solvable problem, just not by me, right now.

For example we can eliminate the possibility that I threw the drive away or misplaced it. I DID Something with the fucking thing.

Ao I cannot locate the enclosure for HD3. I don't remember destroying it, though I might have. That's worrying me.
posted by unSane at 7:15 PM on January 16, 2013

When this happens to me I take off my Sherlock Holmes hat and put on my Inspector Dumbass hat and section off the area and search it meticulously, opening every container and looking between every layer of strata. It's not exciting at all, except when I find the missing object, which is inevitably in a "oh, it couldn't be there, I wouldn't have done that!" place that is nevertheless trivially easy to access but just ever so slightly out of plain view.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:22 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Well since it was the drive for your own laptop, maybe you took extra-special care of it somehow? Did you put it somewhere there would be no possibility of it being exposed to anything magnetic?
posted by XMLicious at 7:23 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recently discovered my own Time Machine ext drive neatly shelved in a bookcase where I put it some months ago before going on a trip. The side of it blended right in so well that I pulled a book just three spines over from the drive a few weeks ago and still didn't spot the drive, even though I was well aware that it was lost.
posted by jamaro at 7:30 PM on January 16, 2013

Put the other hard drives away, don't think about it. Wherever you put them is probably where you put yours.
posted by jeather at 7:35 PM on January 16, 2013

There are 5 harddrives. I wasn't exactly sure on your description, but did you check the one that was returned with the laptop? Because...

HD1 - on workbench.
HD2 - ???
HD3 - on work bench
HD4 - on work bench, but is also the one that you think you sent in with the laptop for burn test
HD5 - in your wife's laptop

So if you didn't already check, is the harddisk that went with the laptop HD2? Did they accidentally wipe it?
posted by ethidda at 7:48 PM on January 16, 2013

I was more focused on HD1 than HD2 as I don't keep that much of importance on my laptop, or I have it mirrored. But where is the HD3 enclosure?
posted by unSane at 7:49 PM on January 16, 2013

Ethidda, good question. No HDs were wiped. I'm no longer absolutely certain which HD came out of my wife's computer once it was repaired but every HD i've looked at has something meaningful on it.
posted by unSane at 7:52 PM on January 16, 2013

When this happens to me, I look in all of the convenient - but out of the ordinary - places that I stick things when I'm not thinking too hard...edges of bookshelves, top of the fridge, etc. Usually someplace where I've been standing.
posted by jquinby at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2013

Any chance you mixed up the MacBook pros instead?
posted by carmicha at 8:22 PM on January 16, 2013

"HD4 then failed after being dropped... HD4's enclosure was destroyed in the process... I put a HD in her laptop so they could burn test it. I THINK it was HD4 which was kinda sorta working. "

A dropped drive that fails usually ends up in the trash - could you have tried putting it in the freezer to see if that fixed it?
posted by azlondon at 8:43 PM on January 16, 2013

Excellent questions.

- the MBPs are different sizes so no confusion

- one of the drives DID go in the freezer, but no longer there
posted by unSane at 8:46 PM on January 16, 2013

You've looked on top of the fridge, right?
posted by gingerest at 9:48 PM on January 16, 2013

You need to be totally okay with never finding it. Relax completely. Then, you will remember where it is. This works.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

This makes no sense. What kind of chop shop are you running over there? At what point (and why) would you have taken HD3 (your Time Machine volume) out of its enclosure?
posted by phaedon at 11:52 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You've gone through the obvious places. You now need to account for brainfarts, things slipping down somewhere, and other people moving stuff on top of or with your stuff. Piles of stuff are brilliant at hiding things. Piles of papers you throw away are, unfortunately, a good place to lose things like cutlery, mobile phones and anything else that doesn't make much of an outline.

Divide rooms into grids. Methodically go through each 1m squared starting from the top and working down. Pull things out. Look behind things. Open things. Rattle things. Start with rooms you use most frequently and keep going. By definition, if and when you find your hard drive it will be in the last place you look.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:27 AM on January 17, 2013

Are you absolutely 100% sure that your timeline above is correct? - Because that is kind of driving where you think you lost the drive.

Also, where is all the packaging and boxes from the new kit?

Also, a slightly weird thing, I try and remember what I was wearing in terms of jackets, and put those back on, sometimes it seems to trigger some memories of what I actually did at the time.

Best of luck ...
posted by carter at 4:53 AM on January 17, 2013

Phaedon's question above got me thinking. Did I really take HD3 out of its enclosure?

Turns out I didn't, and the warranty seal isn't broken, so we can eliminate HD3 from the puzzle.

That leaves:
HD1 (500 GB) - failed, sitting on desk in front of me. My wife's filesystem on it.
HD2 - ??? missing, and I can't remember the exact size. Either 750GB or 1TB. Was factory-supplied with the MBP. Probably 750 now I think about it.
HD4 (1TB) - in my MacBook right now, failed. Had my wife's filesystem on it.
HD5 (1TB) - in my wife's MacBook, working. Has my wife's filesystem on it.

In addition, I have a 750 Gb drive sitting on my desk. It even has an Apple logo on it now I examine it closely. I thought this was HD3, but we eliminated that possibility.

Logic says this MUST be HD2.

But when I try to mount it, it has a non-working version of my wife's filesystem on it. I can kind of remember attempting to do a bitwise clone onto an external drive when I was trying to rescue files for her, which would explain that. But that was well before her logic board failed.

I'm fairly sure all the drives are accounted for now, so I guess the case is closed. It makes sense that the drive was in front of me the whole time.

But I'm completely baffled about what happened to my own system. When I swapped my wife's HD into my laptop, my laptop was working fine and normally, with all my stuff on it. That must have been the 750GB Apple drive. But how did her filesystem get onto it?

It's a complete fucking mystery, is what it is.

Label your hard drives, friends.

(As for what kind of a chop shop I'm running, imagine your wife's hard drive failing, which contains all the photos for her photo business, with what turns out to be an incomplete backup, which takes you a week to put back together, then she drops the external drive you rescued it all onto and you have to do the whole thing again, then her logic board fails, and you live hours from the nearest Apple store or place where you can buy reasonably priced hard drives.)

Thanks, everyone.
posted by unSane at 7:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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