Lucy asked: I had an external hard drive for just a year or so, and then it seems to have died. It won’t mount anymore. Is there anything I can do besides just throwing it away?
We swear these hard drives know when their warranty expires and they wait till one day after that moment to drop dead. Hopefully, however, yours is still under warranty. If it is, you can contact the manufacturer to get a replacement drive. All of the hard drive manufacturers warranty their hard drives, and they’re all reasonable about replacing them during the warranty period. How they react after the warranty period differs from company to company, and it’s still worth trying to get a replacement if your drive has failed close to the end of the warranty period.
Hopefully, if the contents of the drive are important, you have also made a backup of the drive.
If you’re really brave you can open up the case, replace the hard drive with a different bare hard drive, and glue it all back together. Most consumer external hard drives are simply glued together, and opening them up can be tricky. On the other hand, if you find the external case to be a convenient size, or you just want the cheapest means of repairing the device, this can work. The hard drives inside the external drive cases are completely standard, and you can generally replace a dead hard drive with a working one, glue things back together (or use rubber bands, if necessary), and you’ll have a new working hard drive.
On the other hand, your best option is to contact the manufacturer and try to get a replacement, if the drive’s under warranty.
Private domain registration
When I purchased my domain name it asked if I should protect it. The protection service costs an extra $10 per year. Do I need to do this?
As a quick recap for those who haven’t purchased a domain name, it’s worth noting that anyone can purchase any domain name that isn’t already in use. This involves signing up with a domain registrar, indicating the domain name you want (like thisismydomain.com) and paying for the service. Along the way, you must provide some personal information, and it’s this information to which the question refers. (For a list of popular domain registrars, visit this site: http://goo.gl/VZntw).
In general, we think you should always keep your personal information as private as possible. If you do not have a business under which you can register the domain name, then we recommend you use the domain privacy service that most domain registrars offer, for an extra fee.
If you want to know information about a domain name, you can go to the website http://whois.com, and enter the domain name. You will see information about who owns the domain, when it was registered, when it expires and much more. Often, this search provides personal information about the person or company that registered the domain name, which is exactly what you would be trying to avoid.
For a small fee, the registrar of your domain will provide a service that allows the real ownership information to be hidden from public view. This service normally costs around $10 per year, and if you purchase the service for multiple years, you can save some money.
Spamming engines use the whois registration info as a prime source of email addresses for spamming, so make sure you hide your personal information when registering for a domain name if at all possible. Remember that information on the Internet is “forever”—protect your privacy every way you can.
Doug Behl and Ken Getzspent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken’s tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at http://blog.techtipguys.com. Submit your own technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.