Since I’m going to be away from reliable computer access, I’ve been writing posts in advance and setting them to publish in the future. On May 27 I was trying to get several posts set up and ran into one disaster after another. So, I thought I’d make how I dealt with those problems into a blog post for the future (relative to when I’m writing this).
The first problem was with my Western Digital Mybook. I had some files on it I needed and found that it had stopped working. I suspected that it was the enclosure that had failed, rather than the drive, so I tried to take the enclosure apart. I found that this was going to be a problem-unlike the do-it-yourself enclosures, the Mybook has a case that is difficult to open. Earlier models were more accessible-you could unscrew the case and get to the drive. Here is another version as well.
Naturally, my version, the 500 GB Western Digital Mybook Essential, did not match these guides. Fortunately, Carlton Bale has an excellent guide to opening the case. I was able to get the case open and gain access to the drive. The next problem was how to get to the data on the drive. Fortunately, there is a handy device that allows you to connect an IDE or SATA drive via USB to a PC or Mac. The one I have works with 3.5 (desktop) and 2.5 inch (laptop) drives and came with a power supply and all needed cables. They are sold under many names, but you can get the type I have from New Egg here.
Although I got the Mybook for about the price I would have paid for a “bare” drive, I was not at all happy with it for failing so quickly. If you want an external drive and can use a screwdriver, I’d suggest that you buy a “bare” hard drive and install it in an enclosure. The enclosures are, obviously enough, designed to be user serviceable. Hence, if something goes wrong you can easily open the drive case and get the drive out.
The second problem was that I kept losing my broadband connection. This was annoying because web browsers tend to handle the loss of connection poorly-I have had Firefox lock up because of this. Also, if you lose your connection while writing a blog using WordPress or similar blogging sites, your work will not be saved. If something goes wrong (such as the browser locking up), you can lose your text. As such, I’d suggest writing blogs in a word processor or at least pasting the text into one from time to time to make sure you have a backup if your connection goes out and your web browser fails you. At the very least, save often.
Dealing with broadband problems is challenging because so many things can go wrong: your software, your computer, your router, your modem, and the service itself. Troubleshooting is mostly a matter of trial and error and most broadband providers have poor service (just like most businesses).
If your broadband connection goes out, here are some easy steps to take:
1. If you have a PC running XP, go to Control Panels and select Network Connections. RIght click on Local Area Connection and select Repair. Let Windows do its thing and then try your browser again. You might have to quit/exit the browser and start it again. You usually do not have to restart your computer.
2. Some routers have handy lights on them that will tell you what is not working. If the power light is off, that is probably your problem-plug the router back in. If you have an Internet light and it is flashing, then there is a problem with your connection to the internet. If your modem lights say that your modem is connected and doing fine, then try resetting your router. In most cases, you’ll need to gently jam a bent paperclip into a recessed reset button on the router. You can also try unplugging it. You might need to go and do step 1 after doing this.
3. If resetting the router does not work and your modem is lit up as it should be (see the documentation for your specific model), then try the following: unplug everything from the modem and wait a few minutes. Then plug the cable back in, then the Ethernet cord, and then the power cord. The modem will take a short while to power up again and gain a connection. You might need to do #1 and #2 after this.
4. If your modem is not lit up as it should be, then try the procedure in #3. If this does not help, then your service might be out or your modem might be defective.
5. You can also try swapping out cables, if you have some extra ones lying around. It is also very useful to have a second computer-if the second computer can connect just fine, then the problem must be with the first computer. It could be a software problem or a hardware problem (a bad network card or cable).