Early this year, I installed Ubunto 10.4 on a 10 year old Dell tower to use as my home file server. It was working great, I even had a good backup system going using rsnapshot and an external drive.
Then, three months ago, I woke up one morning to find that it wasn't available on the network. Checking it, I saw that it was stuck in a boot process and said that it could not find the boot disk.
I spent a bit of time trying to diagnose the problem. Testdisk reported thousands of error messages just trying to read the drive. A last-ditch attempt to just reinstall Ubuntu ended with failures to write a decent partition table to the drive. I swear that I even heard some odd clicking noises coming from the drive (this may have been my stressed imagination). Needless to say, I assumed that this 10 year old hard drive was now a brick. I was very, very thankful for that good backup system I'd set up.
Anyway, my wife said that I would have to wait until Christmas sales to buy something to replace it, so I unplugged the whole thing and put it aside and started living off of an external drive on my laptop.
Now, yesterday, while researching what kind of hardware I should get to replace the drive, I turned on the machine in order to check how much RAM I had in it. Distracted by children, I didn't press the function key fast enough to go into the BIOS, and surprise surprise, I saw it booting up into Ubuntu 10.4. I hadn't left the install CD in the drive, so it was definitely booting from the hard drive. After logging in, I checked around the hard drive, and everything looked exactly like it had been before that initial crash. I forced a boot with fsck, which reported no errors.
So, what else could have gone wrong? I'm pretty much only at slightly advanced newbie level when it comes to hardware. I assume that there's something else in the machine that caused the problem, but what? After it had crashed, the BIOS was reporting the model number of the drive, so I assume that the connections were still good. Should I just put the server back into service and wait for it to crash again?