data recovery

Back Up, Back Up, Back Up: A Cautionary Tale

by Jamie Sanford on December 4, 2014

Sending all of my good vibes to the fine people at Data Recovery NJ.

I have run into a data recovery need 4 times in the last 16 years.

  • 1998: While living in a dorm at the University of Florida (WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING), my hard drive crashes. The Dell serviceperson who came to help me said that the hard drive crashed, and that he could not imagine that the heat was helping. I did not get anything back, because I didn’t really know that data recovery was a thing. (Oddly enough, I would work for a data recovery company for a few months in 1999.)
  • 2010: The external hard drive containing Will and I’s music files and all of our photos dies – we pay Data Recovery NJ over $700 to get the data back, and then start a proper system of backing up.
  • 2014: The external hard drive I was using at the office as a giant collection of product photos (to avoid having to download them every time I need them) doesn’t die, but converts to RAW, which apparently can happen from not properly disconnecting the drive before you pull the plug. I did not have this recovered since the contents were mostly available in other places. I now have a very large external drive that is not portable for image storage outside of my computer at the office.
  • 2014: The portable external hard drive that I use for personal storage stops being recognized in the middle of a project where I am moving photos. The drive isn’t making any noises (click in a drive is generally indicative of a head crash), so I’m thinking it too might have been reformatted to RAW from abuse. This drive is carried around in my bag everywhere I go, and I am guilty of not unplugging it correctly all the time. However, this drive issue occurred while plugged in, not at the time of removal. It was plugged in and working, and then just stopped being recognized.

The saddest part about the last drive is that I do actually back it up. However, I haven’t backed it up since April 27th, and there’s a lot of stuff on there that I would like back. Lots of blog post preparation stuff, etc. I have sent the drive over to Data Recovery NJ and am hoping it will not be another situation where I have to pay $700 to recover everything. We shall see.

In the meantime, take the following steps to try and avoid this in your own life.

1. Make sure you have some kind of backup of your important files. This could be by utilizing an online backup service like Carbonite or Backblaze, or with physical storage devices. I am seriously considering using an online service to back up my backup now, since I have been burned so many times.

2. Take care of your backup devices! Protect them from shock damage, and eject them properly to avoid reformatting. There are shock-resistant storage devices available as well.

3. If you’re not using an automatic system for backups (I was not, hence the last backup being from April and not more recently), set up calendar reminders so your backups can happen on a regular basis. I understand that paying hundreds of dollars for recovery isn’t feasible for everyone, so do your best to back up regularly so that if something is lost, you can possible move forward without having to incur the expense of recovery.

4. If you are not a professional photographer, you can use services such as Flickr as a good backup. Flickr’s free account offers 1 TB of storage, which is more than most people need. Upload full sized images! You can make them private so that only you can see them, and while they aren’t super easy to download in batches, it is just another option.

I will sit and hope that my data will be recoverable and that I can embark on a new journey that can hopefully spare me the drama of going through recovery again. I would love to hear in the comments how my readers back up their data and what their tips are.

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