problem solving: barrel locks

I often refer to myself as a problem solver by nature. I work on computers, manage networks, engineer projects, and design and build things at varying scales, but where I feel most rewarded is in the moment of solving the problem. That stressful instance where I am presented with some new challenge and must conquer it.

The very moment when I can say “Ah-ha!” in my head, and no one else has seen the solution yet, that’s the moment I want to live in forever.


Failed hard drive in a 3 drive RAID5 array. Production email server. No key can be sourced that fits the lock. Need to get the drive out to replace it. Customer claims to me “it has been that way for months”. Meanwhile, I’m shaking my head and explaining the limitations of RAID5 redundancy. So we locate a lot of barrel keys that do not work and none that ultimately unlock the drive from its caddy.

I want to replace the drive during business hours – while I am at work – instead of after hours. I do not want to destroy the lock or risk damage to the server. The best suggestions I have are to drill out the lock or contact the manufacturer and attempt to locate a replacement.

key fail


File down slightly larger key with hand file until it fits the lock. Locks are meant to be defeated by keys. Without a key, what purpose does a lock have?

filed key filed key filed key

Like a boss, it works on the first try.

No joke. I came home last night with a task in my head like this, “I’m going to file down this key and get it to work tomorrow.”

And today, I did exactly that:


Visualize the solution and make it reality.


3 thoughts on “problem solving: barrel locks

  1. smickles says:

    I’ve seen locks similar to those defeated by a small section of cardboard which was flattened and rolled into a circle.

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