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God Does Tech Support

There's an extrabiblical proverb that says, "a day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels", and I can heartily testify that this was true during my tech support challenges this day.

I had just finished installing a new system on an old iMac when my boss informed me that our server was down. I went to check it out and my co-worker was already on the case and confirmed that it was so. The computer had crashed, and its attempts at restarting were futile. It was permanently hanging whenever it got to the "checking disks" stage.

Our usual first course of action with troubled disks is to run Norton Disk Doctor. We did some repair and soon found that it was not the main drive which was not operational but our Jobs drive -- the one containing the current jobs for our whole company! Several attempts were made to repair it with Norton, and we had a sinking feeling that this was futile.

Now during the course of these proceedings I had taken our external backup drive to another computer to attempt to restore some files that we could work with in the meantime. I then discovered that Retrospect had been quietly running its backup script every day, and quietly running out of room on the destination drive each time, since three months ago. We had no current backup files! It was at this point I realised the gravity of the situation, and began earnestly entreating the Lord for His divine intervention in the matter. If this disk was not fixable, we would be at a standstill for several days while we sent the drive away for file recovery. The worst case scenario would be losing three months of work completely! Needless to say, I was reluctant to inform my boss of the situation.

By the time lunch was upon me, I had a faint hope game plan, and then informed my boss. I had given up on Disk Doctor and decided that it would be worthwhile to buy myself a copy of DiskWarrior, a utility rumored to be the holy grail of disk repair utilities. I downloaded the software, burned a CD, and then discovered that the server was too old to run the newest version of it. So I ran an older version for Mac OS 9, and it was not able to see the crashed disk. More prayer ensued.

I had failed earlier to connect the server to my work computer using "target disk mode" (a mode in which the computer acts as if it were an external firewire hard drive) and so my next idea was to remove the internal drive and put it in an old firewire external drive enclosure so that I could operate on it while connected to a more modern computer. My first attempt was unsuccessful - the drive would not mount -  but I remembered that I needed to set the jumper on the drive to make it a master disk. Success! And just in time too, because my boss was now hovering over me to find out if we had any hope. Not only was DiskWarrior able to see the drive, it also easily rebuilt the directory structure and restored the disk as if it had never been damaged!

So as the hallelujah choruses played on in my mind, I set about my new tasks of hastily making a backup of the precious files onto my computer, then reconnecting the drive to the server so that we could start using it again.

Unfortunately that was not the end of my troubles. During the course of disk repair, the server had forgotten some of its original configuration. Any amount of scrutiny  seemed to show that we had the file sharing set up exactly as before, but for some reason the Windows users were not able to log in. I tried all the old tricks we learned over the years of prodding our old server software to work properly, but to no avail.

It was getting to be around 5:30 and people had already left for home. I really needed to have something for our Windows users to use the next day! On another hunch, I set the server to allow guest access, so that people within a certain range of network addresses would not need a password. It was not the ideal solution but it worked successfully, and I was able to leave for home without being too late.

So this day I was reminded that God cares about the details of our lives that may seem insignificant from an eternal perspective. My day was carried from an almost hopeless situation, through a series of things falling uncannily into place against the odds, to a conclusion that worked out just as I needed it to work. Do I believe that God will always make my troubles pass so easily? No, but I would be stupid to not give Him credit for a day that could have easily turned out much, much worse.

Thank you God, for how you bless your children.

Oh, and kudos to Alsoft as well! 

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3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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