Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recovery is sometimes easier than expected

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a hard drive stop working, which included raw images and edits from a number of shoots from 2006. The missing files had backups elsewhere, but those were scattered over a variety of DVDs and online and would have to be reconstructed by process of elimination, a daunting task, especially considering the files were older and might not actually be required anytime soon. So, I looked into various methods for recovering the files, cleanroom recovery services with prices ranging from a couple hundred dollars (and rumored to be bait-and-switch operations) to several thousand dollars. I dragged my feet at the prospect of spending that kind of money to recover files of questionable value, and tried a couple of "home remedies" touted on websites. (Including putting the drive in a freezer, which is rumored to sometimes give a last spasm of life, enough to recover the files -- further reading seems to indicate that this is something of a myth, more likely to make the problem worse.)

I stopped to think back to the timeframe when the drive stopped working, it seemed roughly coincidental with my "upgrade" to Mac OS 10.5 "Leopard" (aka "Leper"), so I did some more research, and it turns out that the upgrade caused certain models of external hard drives (including mine, the Maxtor OneTouch II) to stop mounting, so they appeared dead -- and for all practical purposes WERE dead. Several software fixes were offered on Maxtor's site, but none of them seemed to work. But it gave me an idea. I purchased an inexpensive hard drive enclosure which arrived this morning. It took about three minutes to pull the actual hard drive from the Maxtor enclosure and put it into the new generic one, and fire it up. Immediately, the drive (and my files) appeared on my desktop, evidently as good as new, no cleanroom required, total cost about $18. Boy, is THAT a good feeling. :)

Full of win.

So, about 300GB worth of images of Abigail, Alicia, Amanda, Amber, Amie, Annessia, Autumn, Beth, Breena, Brittany, etc. have been rescued from extinction and are currently being backed up to another hard drive. (That's Jacquie at right.) Despite it functioning at the moment, since I did freeze the drive and subjected it to various other abuses attempting to revive it, I'm not going to take any chances. And as part of New Year's promises to oneself, I'm going to work on redundant backups of all my files, including offsite.

And any of you photographers who are reading this, a reminder that you might want to make sure you're doing all you need to do in case the unthinkable happens.

At top are a couple images from my shoot with Claudine in her beautifully spartan apartment overlooking downtown Chicago.