Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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External HDD Problems

Sun, 19 Mar 2006

Given that I work at home as well as in the office, it is imperative that I maintain a single working "copy" of my data. To this end I realised a long time ago that some kind of synchronisation was necessary and, in the end, I've focussed on an external HDD, principally because of the speed/capacity benefits. What this means is that when I'm in the office I work straight off the drive (including my portable email client which has a 1Gb message base) and when I'm at home this gets synchronised to the main system, and I then work off that copy. As a side note that means I have two copies; the data directories get backed up daily to a single internal HDD and then this (and all the versioning) gets backed up once a week to another external HDD.

So the main HDD I use in work is a small 2.5" (as used in notebook PCs) drive which has the benefit of being bus powered. I recently upgraded from the 20Gb drive (formatted as FAT32) to a newer 80Gb drive (due to size I formatted it as NTFS); a problem of the gradual accumulation of both data and MP3s. It was at this point I came across a problem which took quite a while to solve.

THE SYMPTOMS: having refreshed all my data on to the drive I took it in to work. I could read and write to the drive, but I couldn't alter data currently on the drive.

THE SOLUTION: A bit of poking around led me to the Security tab (on the file Properties dialogue) which showed me that only Administrators were allowed to modify data. A file settings problem then which would have to be repaired at home. At home there was no Security tab which, after a bit of head scratching, turned out to be because I am running XP Home at home. One of the subtle differences between XP Pro and XP Home. Further scouring of the internet led me to a "patch", originally released by Microsoft for NT4, which adds the Security tab. Sure enough this worked on XP Home and let me add the requisitie file permissions to my drive.

All in all this was quite an accumulation of problems which would easily have defeated the average Joe in the street!

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