Hard Times for a Hard Drive

A diary of one editor's efforts to save a large, dying hard drive.

My Sony VAIO Digital Studio came with two 100GB Maxtor ATA drives. This may seem like a lot, but its probably the bare minimum you need when youre editing video and burning DVDs. I was using Sonic MyDVD 5 for these tasks, and began to notice some disturbing computer activity while working on video projects.

When I first bought my PC and was using an earlier version of MyDVD, I could connect my camcorder with the FireWire cable, set the software to capture video (up to an hour at a time), and auto-add chapter points at minute intervals. The newer version of the software added auto-scene detection, making the chapters even more useful. But on the last few projects I did, I noticed that the video capture was either failing or creating essentially unusable video files.

Something was wrong, but I couldnt identify the problem. My first guess was the software. Perhaps version 5s scene detection was just a little off, not quite compatible with my system. Sonic has a free upgrade to version 5.2.2, so I downloaded the nearly 300MB file and installed it on my system.

The update worked just as well as the previous version, but did nothing to solve my problems. This was especially frustrating, because I was trying to complete what should have been a very simple DVD project—23 minutes of video and a slide show. Every time I captured the video, it would fail, either altogether or part way through the 23-minute clip. I tried dropping scene detection, but that did nothing. I closed MyDVD and perused the drive where I store captured video. For MyDVD to work effectively, Sonic recommends specifying separate locations (even drives, if you have them) for the applications temporary files and for video-capture storage. With two 100GB drives (three, in effect, if you count that the C: drive is partitioned into a 10GB system drive and 90GB of storage space), this was not a problem. Of course, I had to remember to adjust these settings every time I upgraded MyDVD, since the application forces you to uninstall old versions before upgrading. If I left the storage locations on their default settings—on the C: drive—instead of resetting them to specify locations on the other drives, the application ground to a halt upon capturing video.