The Importance of Being Backed Up

My 1TB hard drive joined the choir invisibile over the weekend. It contained all my music, games, videos and, most importantly, photos taken over the last five years. While everything on the drive is replaceable, the photos is what had me freaked out. I’ve been in the process of trying to find an online site to which I can backup all my pictures without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money or losing picture quality, but hadn’t really found the right solution for me yet. Now it’s a little too late.

Gareth, who manages a PC repair shop, told me I had two options: 
  1. Return the drive to the supplier and get a new one (it’s still under warranty) but lose all your data, or 
  2. Send the drive to data recovery specialists and pay roughly R2500 for a 75% chance to recover the data, but then void the warranty on the drive and have to buy a new replacement drive as well. 
Neither of those options really worked for me.

And so I spent much of the weekend alternately berating myself for not being proactive about backing up my photos and wishing a plague on the houses of the suppliers of a product that will take no responsibility for the loss of your data, even if that loss was caused by their product biting the dust (for no apparent reason) within less than a year.

I had decided to go with option 2. Although the best pictures from the past three years’ holidays have been uploaded to Facebook and Photobucket and Picasa, I didn’t have any backup of our recent African Adventure trip. I had already deleted the photos from my camera and was busy editing them for the final selection when disaster struck. I couldn’t face losing all my memories and a 75% chance of recovery was better than nothing.

And then my brilliant husband had a brilliant idea. I never format the memory card in my camera, but rather just move the photos off it onto my PC, and he had access to a programme that can recover the deleted data on that card. To my huge relief, it worked! All the photos I ever took on that memory card was recovered! They’ve lost all of their metadata (date taken, location, etc.) but that is infinitely more acceptable than losing the photos themselves.

So now a lesson has been learned. I’ve decided to forgo looking for a site to use as backup location and will stick to good old writable DVDs and perhaps even a regular scheduled backup to a second hard drive. Now all I need to worry about is fire, flood or fiend…

How do you keep your digital photos safe?

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