Stuff fails

Last week I awoke to a nasty surprise: my Apple Time Capsule had died. I’ve been using it for about three years, as both WiFi access point and back-up disk, and I was dimly aware of reports that early TC’s had a nasty habit of failing when they were out of warranty, but of course nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition it to happen to them. But it did. And as I tweeted, the replacement was quickly installed: an Airport Extreme WiFi access point, an external Iomega 1TB hard disk for backups, and an extra Airport Express to make sure that I had good coverage throughout the apartment.
And that was that. Or rather, it wasn’t. Because both of us had (ahem) used the Time Capsule for more than simple backup. We’d used it as a convenient way of sharing data, especially photographs and genealogical data. And so there was a lingering “action item” to try to recover what was on the TC hard drive.
This morning I received a request for a photograph: one which I knew was on the TC. I got the Time Capsule off the Shelf Of Dead Electronics and… well, on a whim, I decided to plug it in. To my surprise, the light came on! WTF? I quickly unplugged it before it could complete POST and try to take over my WiFi network. Naturally, when I came home this evening, I tried plugging it in again. Nothing. Not a flicker. And then I read the various descriptions of TC failures, and realized that the most likely cause was a capacitor in the power supply, and that such a failure might well taunt me with a random flicker.
So I’ve just completed disassembling the TC, and removing the Hitachi Deskstar HD. Tomorrow I will stop at Fry’s and pick up a 3.5″ AT enclosure, so that I can try mounting the disk on my Mac Mini. I’m not worried about the Time Machine backups – those have been recreated – but I hope I can get the other data off it.
UPDATE #1: After reading this MacRumors thread, I’m going to be extra careful in choosing a HD enclosure. Apparently many of them have feeble power supplies that can’t meet the start-up demands of the Hitachi disk. (The label says that it needs “5V 680mA 12V 850mA”, which is comfortably less than the 2A that most supplies are spec’d for. However I bet that’s steady-state current, not the start-up suckage.)
UPDATE #2: I wound up getting a generic SATA enclosure made by Sabrent. It was a returned item, so I paid only $23.74. It turned out that the TC HD was carved up into two small admin partitions and a partition called “Time Capsule”. One of the subdirectories had been written from Windows, and even though the permissions looked OK, I couldn’t read or copy it, so I had to chown/chmod the whole thing before I could recover it. Otherwise, no problems.

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