Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have You Checked Your Hard Drive?

You may remember the famously spooky line, "Have you checked the children?" from "When A Stranger Calls," the 1979 thriller that scared the bejeebies out of millions of folks, especially me - and I only saw the preview (I was in 5th grade). A couple of days ago I had a similarly scary experience.

After returning from an amazing week in the Pacific Northwest I copied the four-plus gigabytes of photos we took to our external drive, then opened Picasa to look at them on the larger monitor. Not only were they not found, four months worth of photos were gone. If a CSI staffer was examining the drive they'd conclude the camera was broken, or the photographer had disappeared, on or about July 27th, 2008, the date of the last photo. Oddly, all photos prior to the 27th are fine, as was the entire iTunes library.

Gone were the photos of our saw-whet owl visitor, the Ring-necked Pheasants, the out-of-range/date Little Blue Heron, the lifer Curlew Sandpier, the rare-in-the-Basin Hudsonian Godwits, the ultra-rare Magnificant Frigatebird . . . but at least those (and others) are immortalized here on recent posts on The Feather and the Flower. Gone are hundreds of other pics: family outings, family at home, landscapes, macro shots of insects and plants, images for work, and who knows what I'm forgetting.

Obviously it could be a lot worse. I know too many folks that have lost their entire photo collection - years of images, gone - or all of their personal financial files. Too many that have lost data for their research projects, too many that have lost their Master's thesis or doctoral dissertations. I've never known anyone who lost The Great American Novel, but I'm sure that's happened, too.

Happily, I was able to recover all the photos. I'm in one of those, "Aww, lawdy, lawdy! I've been given a second chance!" modes, I'm sure I'll be one of those annoying types back from the brink. I'll be completely anal about backing up more often. Weekly, like I originally planned before I got lethargic about it. I'll be proselytizing the virtues to everyone I meet, at least for the next few weeks.

So, how about you? Have you checked your hard drive?

Regular posting to begin again tomorrow.



A.J. said...

OMG, was all I could think of. I kept waiting for you to say you recovered everything but then it looked as if that weren't going to be what happened! What a relief to finally read your line that you were able to recover the photos! how did you do that?! Did you recover the rest (docs, etc.)?

Jack is very good about backups but not me... Thanks for the words of caution!

noflickster said...

Hi A.J. - We do have a separate, larger external drive that I intend to do backups of both our C: and the smaller external drives, but it's such a pain in the keester I just haven't done it. I'll be working on that tonight!

The weirdest part of this incident was what disappeared. Without getting into too many boring details it appeared all recent photos were gone, but everything else on the drive was fine. And what lead up to it was equally weird: all I did was hook up the drive to the laptop, copied (not moved!) images, then reattached it to the desktop computer. I did the proper ejecting of the drive and all of my usual steps.

I got them back by running CheckDisk through the command window on the external drive. It found a bunch of stuff wrong that it fixed and as far as I can tell, it's all back.

I should give a loud shout out to our IT department (Adam, I'm looking at you!), who helped me figure out what to do. Now I can go back to ignoring things like this.

jan m said...

I'm glad you recovered your photos. I am still stuck in the era of photo developing and keeping albums, so I regularly have my favorites developed, never quite trusting my laptop to preserve them for eternity.

Fortunately, my son is my IT guy. I consider his degree a good investment, especially with problems like this.

A.J. said...

Thanks, Mike. I'm passing this on to Jack; I know he has backups and I think something that runs automatically overnight at 2 a.m., which usually signals him to finally come to bed (ha!), but whew (!), the thought of losing all of that makes my head swim...

Good luck with the external drive.

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