Lessons Learned… Again. I hope.

Having had this happen once before you would think I would have learned my lesson.

A few years back, one of my external hard drives decided to take a sabbatical and never come back. Unfortunately it took a lot of information with it. Was the information vital to my business? Not really; but still it was part of the cyber attic pile of crap I decided to keep and never part with, it was so important that today, I have no clue what was on the drive and really don’t care. After that, I got into the regular routine of backing up, and backing up often. After a shoot, I usually pull the images off my card, put them on my HD, and then burn them to disc, and then and only after they were safely on disc, view them. Well let’s just say I got out of my routine…

And let’s just say that everyday I would look at bunch of files and say to myself, you need to burn these to disc and back them off onto another drive. And let’s just say I didn’t. And just for laughs, let’s just say my 500GB decided that it didn’t like me anymore and at 3:00 on a rainy Saturday afternoon it decided to disappear, like completely, and for no reason, it just ejected itself from my iMac. I tried restarting the drive and the computer but nothing. It reappeared for a brief moment so I started pulling files off but 150GB only moves so fast. Then it disappeared again and never came back. Great, it had happened again, but only this time it took important information with it.

Panic mode has now set in because this time there was files lost that I really do need. I immediately did a search for a data recovery outfit and contacted the top hit on Google. They looked impressive, they do work for NASA and Coca Cola and they called me back within an hour, very cool – this may not be so bad after all. Not knowing how expensive data recovery can be I wasn’t prepared for the estimate, anywhere between $299.00 and $800.00, and if they have to take it into the “clean room” environment then the price would range from $1500.00 – $8000.00!

Do you know how much camera gear I can buy for $8000.00?

You really start to evaluate how important your files are when you hear $8000.00, but still, I want these files. I immediately sent a blast message to my friends from my Santa Fe workshop, all wishing me good luck and telling me of similar experiences, but no luck. I found a local computer repair company that did claim to do data recovery and would only charge me if they were able to retrieve anything.

They called me two days later with news I didn’t want to hear. The small motor within the drive housing, the one that spins the data platters is what died, essentially the worst type of hard drive crash you can hope for. I contacted Western Digital to check on the warranty and as luck would have it, it was out of warranty, but the technician did tell me to look on Ebay for a similar drive, pull out that motor and pop it in my dead drive. What this guy didn’t realize was that he was talking to a guy who hung new sheet rock in his laundry room in 2004 and has yet to Spackle. There’s no way I’m ripping open hard drives to replace motors.

So I’ve come to accept the fact that my data is gone. But there is something positive that came of this experience.

Once again, I see the importance of data backup. But more important than random backups is consistency. I picked up a 1TB drive for $120.00, am running Time Machine on my Mac network and have also discovered Carbon Copy Cloner, a free download (donations accepted, which I did make) for the Mac which clones your hard drive and also allows you to set a schedule to back up your data hourly, daily, weekly, basically as often as you’d like.

The price of hard drives is so ridiculously low now that there shouldn’t be any reason to lose data, ever. In my case, I’m back to my routine of burning a disc of my images as soon as they come off the camera. I then move them to a clean 160GB drive, which Time Machine backs up to a 500GB drive, which is also backed up weekly by Carbon Copy Cloner to my 1TB drive which hangs off my Airport Extreme Base Station, which also allows me to schedule daily backups of both my laptops.

I’d like to think I have my bases covered and will not lose another byte of data due to backup negligence, if I do, there’s always the drywall business!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I see one base uncovered with your scheme. It appears all of your backups, although on different media and different drives, are in the same physical location. Please make sure you keep at least one backup offsite so that in case the really terrible happens and you lose your studio (or where ever you computers/servers are stored), you won’t lose it all still.

    I’m a firm believer in an online storage/backup location for that reason.

  2. Back-up strategy. I learned the lesson 5 years ago.
    No I have a DROBO fitted wit 4 disk x 1 tera raid configured (2 Tera storage redundant)and an amazing big Packard Bell Jumbo of 2 tera.
    So I ave a triple copy of my work. Triple means no trouble.
    The advantage is that my archive is protected an avalible on line.
    The total value of my hardware protection system is around 1500 dollars but I live my life without fear of data loss.

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