Unfortunately the fates took this opportunity to throw another monkey wrench into things, and one of my hard drives went belly up. This is the second Maxtor drive that has mysteriously flaked out on me recently. Before, I had preferred IBM (now Hitachi) drives for desktops, but they had a string of really bad failures with the 45, 60, and 120 gig drives, so I've been avoiding them. From a search of the net it seems that Maxtor is going through a similar stretch of reliability problems. This is further compounded by disk manufacturers ratcheting back on warranties such that a lot of drives only come with a one year warranty now. The previous Maxtor that failed only had a one year warranty and had already expired, but the current one that died has a two year warranty that's still good, so at least I'll be able to get it replaced.
Anyhow, after several days of repairing things with the excellent utilities Spinrite and HDD Regenerator, I was able to get to the point where I could get most of the files off. In all, there were five files that wouldn't copy, three of which I was able to re-download, and the last two which weren't very important anyways. Still lost a couple of days there.
Looking around the net, the current feelings seem to be that Western Digital and Seagate are most reliable for desktop drives. Looking into warranty practices, Seagate is still quite traditional in that they offer a full FIVE YEAR warranty on all their drives. A warranty of three years is probably enough, because the drive will be close to being obsolete by then. But the fact that they still offer five year warranties seems to say "we expect this drive to last" while a one year warranty seems to say "hope you have a backup, suckah".
As for Western Digital, their drives come with various warranties from one to five years depending on the model. For example, a Caviar drive will have a one year warranty while a Caviar SE, while otherwise looking identical in spec and performance has a three year warranty. The interesting thing is that Western Digital offers a warranty extension for drives with less than three year warranty for a nominal charge. I looked at my WD drives and while one of them already had a three year warranty, the other two were the one year kind and almost at their expiration. I was able to extend their warranties to three years each for USD14.95 each. Not a bad deal.
So from now on I'll be looking for WD and Seagate drives for future purchases, and will extend the warranty on any WD drives coming with only one year of coverage. But anyways, that episode set things back a bit more.
After that I was able to get a lot of things done that I had been putting off, and at this point I've gotten through the bulk of things I'd put off, so feeling pretty good about things. Also haven't had any health problems for a couple of weeks, so that's good too. Meanwhile, the weather is starting to turn hot here. It probably won't be long until I'll need to crank up the air conditioner.