If it’s Rome there must be some disaster looming …

I have a real problem, dear readers.

On my first full day my laptop is dead.

I mean dead.



Hard drive dead.

I have my phone. I hope I can borrow a laptop from someone.

And if course the blog was down. For how long I don’t know.

It’s only a papal conclave going on.

Do me a favor and keep me in your prayers. I need some serious patience and guardian angels to help with solutions.

It’s Zuhlsdorf’s Law in full fury.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wanda says:

    Praying, Fr. Z. I don’t think you were down for very long. I checked earlier in the a.m. and the chimeney pic was there. Then I couldn’t get your site for I’m guessing an hour or two at the very most.

    Guardian angels, Fr. Z. could use a hand!

  2. Jeannie_C says:

    Can you get physical access to the drive bay ? I have seen laptops fail after travel due to loosened drive cables. Its a long shot, but worth a try?

  3. motheroften says:

    Prayers for you Father. God will provide. This is a perfect opportunity for him to do so.

  4. The Astronomer says:

    Fr Z…I could send ya a used ThinkPad T400 with Windows XP & Open Office. Wonder if it would get to Rome in time???

  5. APX says:

    The blog was only down for about an hour.

  6. VexillaRegis says:

    Please St Isidor, help dear Fr. Z in his predicament! BTW, the blog was down for two hours maximum.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Unless the hard drive has been de-gaussed, it is likely that the information is still on the hard drive. If you can find a spare computer, it might be possible to swap out the hard drives and see. It also might be, as Jeannie_C, suggests, a loose connection, so swapping would check this, as well. There is a very small possibility that this is a motherboard problem affecting the BIOS, in which case, swapping computers is the only thing to do, short of replacing the board. Don’t give up on the hard drive, just yet.

    The Chicken

  8. BLB Oregon says:

    Remember Mother Teresa’s words: “God has not called me to be successful. God has called me to be faithful.” Listen to God, remain faithful, and what does not happen in spite of your best efforts need not worry any of us.

    The Lord sent out the 72 without an extra bag or sack, but two by two. Look to your brothers to help you, and you will not fail to do what God intends you to accomplish!

    (And, by the way, may God reward you for your fidelity!)

  9. BLB Oregon says:

    Yes, I found by sad experience that there are some ways that those with expertise can recover information, if it is important, although these methods get progressively more time-consuming and, therefore, more expensive. Still, it can be done. Be wise, though, and inquire about the cost before sending them at it.

    This reminds me: I haven’t backed up my own laptop in about two months. Yikes!

  10. The Astronomer says:

    Dropped you an email, Fr….will keep an eye out for a reply.

  11. APX says:

    Is this something money can fix? If so, perhaps there would be other readers on here who would be willing to go in with me on an “Fund Fr. Z’s New Emergency __________.” fund.

  12. The Astronomer says:

    APX, I’m in…

  13. xavier217 says:

    Me too.

  14. george says:

    Father, if you can find a laptop very much like your own, you could put your hard drive into it and see what happens. That would tell you if it’s the drive or the computer.

    If you need a new computer and can locate one there, I can go in on the Emergency Fund, too.

  15. wanda says:

    Count me in for the pitch-in.

  16. idelsan says:

    Time to buy an iPad.

  17. digitalcatholic says:

    One Mass intention, coming up.

  18. NoraLee9 says:

    I get paid Friday. A iPad might be just what the dr ordered. Otherwise, there are net books…. Cheap, small and handy.

  19. lydia says:

    I’m in.

  20. gracie says:

    May I suggest that everyone hit the “Donate” button and give what they can to help Fr. Z get the computer fixed and also to send him some financial support for his trip to Rome for our benefit?

  21. dafrenchman says:


    I always carry a bootable linux USB drive….. that way one can always boot PC up and do some work. Even a LIVE _DVD would do….
    Seems your laptop is not dead from pic. Likely a disconnected Hard drive.

    I really like this distro… http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
    But there are many others.

    To create a bootable usb drive you can use this tool http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/
    It will even download the file for you….

  22. dafrenchman says:

    I forgot to say it’s all free and legal.

  23. Will D. says:

    There is a handy little program called SpinRite that works wonders on hard drives. In my experience, if SR can’t salvage the drive, nothing short of a forensic recovery will do it.

    Fr. Z, if you want to try it, I will loan you my copy. Email me at the address in my profile.

  24. iPadre says:

    Prayers for you Fr. Z.

    Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio!

  25. inexcels says:

    I’ll second that endorsement for Linux Mint. It’s what I’m using right now. Clean and easy.

  26. HyacinthClare says:

    I’m in. Extra donation on the way.

  27. boxerpaws1952 says:

    RESET the c-moss battery. if that fails FORMAT

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    Live CDs or even USB thumbdrives can be used for hard drive recovery, if the BIOS is intact. I suspect that Fr. Z. will find another laptop, but if all he needs is a browser and some basic editing equipment and can go to an Internet cafe, then he can by-pass the harddrive on his laptop, altogether, by downloading Puppy Linux. It is only a 100 MB download. Ask someone to burn the .iso file as an image file (can be selected in the CD burn program), turn on the laptop, insert the CD and it gives you root access to everything on the laptop, including the internal harddrive. While he operating system is running, plug in a thumbdrive and it will act as an external harddrive and save everything to it. When you remove the CD, the computer is untouched. Nothing is saved to the computer. As long as you don’t yank out the thumbdrive until the program shuts down, this OS is almost impossible to make crash.

    I favor Puppy over Mint Linux because of the small footprint,mSwiss Army Knife ability to open almost any hardware, and the fact that it loads not RAM, so it oesn’t need a hard drive on the computer to store the OS.

    Even if you find another laptop. A Puppy Linux (or any of the larger major distributions, such as Mint or Ubuntu) live CD should always be carried. They are easy to carry and can save one from a lot of problems. Best of all, everything is free.

    The Chicken

  29. The Masked Chicken says:

    Do not use FORMAT!! You will wipe the harddrive.

    The Chicken

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    Should read:

    I favor Puppy over Mint Linux because of the small footprint, Swiss Army Knife ability to open almost any hardware, and the fact that it loads into RAM, so it doesn’t need a hard drive on the computer to store the OS.

    I had a friend who couldn’t get Windows to open. I had her burn a live CD of Puppy Linux and she was able to recover all of her files.

    The Chicken

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    Rats. I think I mailed her the live CD, since she couldn’t get to the burn software. It should be possible to mail a live CD overnight to Italy.

    As I say, I think Fr. Z. will simply find another laptop, so the Linux stuff is probably just a side-track.

    The Chicken

  32. APX says:

    On my planet the solution to computer woes is to just replace it, thus I sent you some help to get started on that. I implore others here who said they would chip in to buy you a new emergency whatever to use the donate button. The last thing you need is more computer woes when the white smoke starts coming out the chimney.

  33. mrsmontoya says:

    Donation via PayPal: check.
    Prayers: check.
    Blessings to you Father! check.

  34. frjim4321 says:

    I hope this resolves.

    My gut feeling is a connectivity issue and the drive is still okay . . . or airport magnetometer.

    Best wishes on this.

  35. lydia says:

    I sent mine but I hit the ammo fund donate button is that okay? What is the difference?

  36. OrthodoxChick says:

    Masked Chicken,

    Is the Linux file too big to be zipped and emailed to Fr. Z. via a friend/colleague’s laptop? Then his friend can burn it for him. That might be a quicker way to get the file to him than relying on international overnight mail. That’s assuming he knows your personal email address and/or can look it up from your registration to get in touch with you. Just an idea…

  37. Clearly the Enemy has it in for you, Father. You must be doing great work. I’m praying that this problem gets resolved quickly and satisfactorily.

  38. dafrenchman says:

    Guys have a look at http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/ download the file. No install required, insert USB drive, select distribution (even puppy). Wait a few minutes… and the goose is cooked. Reboot from USB and voila. No need to email and overnight packages. That can be done at the local internet cafe on any PC.

  39. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    This sort of thing happens to folks like Fr. Z too often to be purely coincidence.

  40. mamajen says:

    Hopefully reseating the hard drive will do the trick. What awful timing!

  41. Supertradmum says:

    Not a coincidence. I am small potatoes and I have been having trouble with my blog today. Very odd

  42. NBW says:

    Fr. Z.; hubby says to unplug the drive and plug it back in. If it doesn’t work, we will also put in a donation.

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Is the Linux file too big to be zipped and emailed to Fr. Z. via a friend/colleague’s laptop.”

    If he has a friend with a laptop, why not just have him download and burn the .iso file? The whole process can be done in five minutes. The instructions are, here:


    Personally, I would rather see Fr. Z. find a substitute laptop running software he already knows (as in, borrowing a friends), but Puppy Linux is great to have around for emergencies (if he can’t find a laptop, that would be an emergency). I am typing this from Puppy, right now. It takes about 20 – 30 seconds to boot and is blazingly fast and stable (even on dial-up, such as I have for home Internet – on a wi-fi connection, it is almost too fast and I have made mistakes because some programs executed faster than I expected). I can download 10,000 free software programs from the Debian Linux repositories and I get a command screen wherein I can actually do useful things.

    Few scientists who do high-level mathematics or data analysis use Windows. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN even made available to all of the scientists around the world who would be analyzing the data from the LHC (and anyone else who wants to download it) a free version of Linux called, Science Linux, so they would all have access to stable software that they could control.

    I have all three major operating systems. I use Windows when I have to (mostly legacy software), I use Mac when I want something pretty, and I use Linux when I want something that is bullet-proof.

    Still. emergencies are rarely the time to switch horses, so, hopefully, a Windows box can be found.

    The Chicken

  44. boxerpaws1952 says:

    format will wipe the hard drive but if he can’t get it to work anyway it makes no difference; at least he would save the computer.Getting an external hd would be another option.

  45. boxerpaws1952 says:

    virus? Download malware bytes from another computer put it on a flash drive

  46. The Masked Chicken says:

    I sent instructions on obtaining Puppy Linux, but it went to moderation.

    Here is the main site:


    My hope is that Fr. Z. will be able to borrow a friend’s laptop during the duration of the Conclave. Heck, borrow one of the Cardinals. They won’t be using it :)

    The Chicken

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    Live CDs are less physically strong than a flashdrive, but more stable, whereas flashdrives are physically stronger, but can be quirky. I have had good success with Pendrive Linux for Ubuntu from a few years ago, but the more recent releases have switched to Casper-rw for the recurrent memory loop. Two years ago, I had to format Casper by hand. Hopefully, they have made the install smoother.

    My last comment about Linux – except to note, in passing, that 50% of all servers in the U. S., including Google, use Linux server software because it is so stable.

    The Chicken

  48. Father Bartoloma says:

    Yikes! Just looking at those pictures is frightening. Good luck.

  49. Supertradmum says:

    Sigh, Americans just do not understand what a desert of technology Europe is…one just cannot go out and get stuff easily, and it is really, really, really overpriced when found.

    As to sending stuff by post-oh my goodness! I have not received Christmas pressies sent from Europe to Ireland, ever. I cannot imagine sending something to Italy unless it is special delivery, signed and insured.

    I feel for Fr. Z very much. This will be a hardship until solved.

  50. Kathleen10 says:

    Is it fixed now? I think the Emergency Fund was a great idea. I’m in. Between all of us we can replace your computer I bet. You have to have it.

  51. Supertradmum says:

    Also, did not get Christmas and birthday pressies sent to Ireland from Canada in 2011. Fr. Z. will need lots of cash for something new, I think.

  52. Imrahil says:

    God has not called me to be successful. God has called me to be faithful.

    Insert expletive, I’d kind-of like to be successful, though.

    Which God seems to accept, given the quote from Proverbs: “Hope prolongued makes the heart ill, yet a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

    As does the Church, saying: “For everything which is legitimate to wish, it is legitimate to pray for.”

    Excuse for not quoting and sourcing all of that.

  53. Matt R says:

    Dr. Peters, your comment made me think of this, from the novel Goldfinger, when Goldfinger is speaking to James Bond in the warehouse, prior to his attempt to saw Bond in half:
    “Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.”

  54. benedetta says:

    Praying for you Fr. Z.

  55. OrthodoxChick says:


    I don’t know about where you are, but here on the East Coast (stateside) it’s 8:30 pm-ish (I’m not precisely sure what time it will be to the minute once I finish composing and posting this). Isn’t that something like 2:30 am Rome time? If so, I hope and pray that Fr. Z. is sleeping peacefully after having either successfully secured a laptop to borrow or having been able to get his own back up and running.

    If he does need to buy a new one, I’m sure he is already aware that Amazon.com has an Italian site too. Don’t know how quickly they can ship to him, but hopefully he won’t need to resort to a new purchase while overseas.

  56. I wish I could help, but that looks like an automatic on-site service call. Too bad you aren’t in New York… I guess I’m relegated to prayer.

  57. Rich says:


  58. Giuseppe says:

    There are still some horrible Internet Cafes in Europe. I must admit, I used them throughout much of the 2000s to communicate with friends from home when no hotels had WiFi.

  59. APX says:

    Supertradmum ,
    Fortunately there’s Kijiji is Rome. Kijiji also solves many problems. They have laptops and netbooks, granted some don’t have hard disks either…maybe it’s an Italian conspiracy.

  60. RMT says:

    If you are getting attacked for being in Rome for the conclave Fr Z, then the enemy must be very afraid now at this point with the election.

  61. VexillaRegis says:

    I say go for Linux! It’s named after the Fenno-Swedish programmer **Linus**Torvalds – and what could be better than to have someone with that papal name operating for you? :-)

  62. VexillaRegis says:

    Rich: What do you mean by that? You shouldn’t joke about this type of threats, that not nice. Or are YOU a hacker?

  63. MarrakeshEspresso says:

    Father, this happened to a friend of mine and we prayed to St Anthony for her lost data, and also because he once raised a dead man to life. It worked; the thing was resurrectable and we saved her data. Give it a try, and I will pray to St Anthony for you too.

  64. jbosco88 says:

    Maybe there should be an even bigger push on the “Get a Mac” fund

    [That’s something will take care off when I get back. It is time.  I have designated money from the Get A Mac fund and it is time to spend some of it.  I’m thinking Macbook Pro with the solid state drive and Retina display.]

  65. David Zampino says:

    Praying, Father Z! You would not be suffering attack if you were not doing the right thing!

  66. poohbear says:

    I don’t see the ‘get a mac fund’ button anymore? Will you reactivate it or should we just use the regular donate button and comment its for the mac?

  67. boxerpaws1952 says:

    for now prayers will have to do.
    (we’re on fixed income and right now it’s really fixed.We’re so broke we can’t pay attention).
    It ALMOST sounds like a virus and i keep thinking use F8 and see if it boots up to safe mode;or get a flash drive or external drive and use malware bytes.It’s possible the hd has bit the dust but i’ve found 9 times out of 10 the causes of computer problems are hacks/ viruses/malware. It’s possible and the external hd or flash drive with downloaded with malware bytes from another computer might cure problem. Sometimes on these laptops just resetting the C-Moss battery does the trick.
    If anything comes up in the near future we will be glad to donate.

    I also suggested a format; hate to mention that to ppl because that wipes out all the data and i would only use it if there were no possibility of retrieving the data anyway. No harm losing what you can’t get to. Maybe a ‘back up’ site would be helpful in the near future. There are lotts of those out there these days to keep data stored and safe-or one can do this just by saving data to another hard drive(external,flash or second computer).
    Sometimes the only option is the last rites for a computer; beyond ‘resurrecting’ .About that time you feel like taking a sledgehammer to it and being done with it. May it rust in peace.

  68. Therese says:

    Wow. What’s the probability of that happening? (Now? During a conclave?) Will add this to the prayer list.

  69. Therese says:

    “We’re so broke we can’t pay attention.”

    Roger, boxerpaws1952. Adding also to prayer list.

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