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Don't put off backing up your data, a cautionary tale

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Web-Betty, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. Web-Betty

    Web-Betty Mu-43 Veteran

    337
    Jun 16, 2013
    Denver
    MJ
    I have not been around much lately. While my disappearance was probably unnoticed, I feel compelled to talk about it, and hope that even one person is saved from going through the same thing. You see, my heart just hasn't been in it ("it" being picture taking) lately. Ever since the external hard drive holding over 7,000 pictures from the last 10 years of my life failed. Quit. Went kaputs. Crapped out.

    "But of course you had a backup??"

    Ironically, this was the backup, where I had spent the last 2 months since my Christmas break consolidating every photo I've taken since 2003. It was also the location of all the images I've imported into Lr4 and wasn't worried, because hey, I'm getting ready to backup to the cloud and this HDD is healthy as a horse. Yep, this HDD was to be my compilation of all the different cameras, and emailed photos, and formats, all organized into one location, for cloud upload. Only I kept putting off that upload because I knew it was going to take some time to set up and I kept thinking I would just do it tomorrow. Or next weekend. And then we had a power failure, and my external hard drives were not properly unmounted. Suddenly my perfect, never-had-a-problem HDD was not offering up any of my photos. While I cannot say with 100% certainty this caused the problem, I think it's highly likely (as do the technicians I've spoken with).

    Right now it's a good news (hopefully)/bad news scenario. The good news (hopefully) is that the DataTech technician I spoke with says that by my description it sounds like a logical failure and they should be able to recover my data. Of course there are no guarantees until they actually crack open the case. The bad news is that it's going to cost me anywhere between $500-$2,000 to recover the data. The cost will depend on their level of effort. Luckily, they will take a look and give the price first, and if they are unsuccessful I only pay for any parts they purchased on my behalf.

    I get a bonus in March. I was earmarking part of it for the Oly 12-40 pro (which I covet and drool over), and also the new Oly 25/1.8. Now I will be spending that lens money on retrieving old photos (and I will be happy for the privilege). I've given up on the 12-40 in lieu of this unexpected expense and I'm hoping to sell my 17/2.8 and kit 14-42 and combine it with the credit I have at the little brick and mortar I love, to get the 25/1.8 (they're calling me when they get their first one in the next week or two).

    While it doesn't make sense to some, this experience has really saddened me and has taken a little joy out of what was an otherwise totally joyful hobby. I just haven't been feeling it lately and I've been looking for renewed inspiration. I'm finding some in my boys, who have enjoyed a few photo walks lately, including my 7-year old who is shooting with my 16-year old Kodak DC210. I'm slowly coming around, but until I get that HDD to DataTech and know for 100% certainty that they can recover my pics, there is still a cloud hanging over me.

    And that's my cautionary tale. Don't put off backing up your stuff. Don't wait until next week, next weekend, or tomorrow. DO IT NOW! I'm now using CrashPlan which backs up my computer AND my remaining external HDD several times a day (and by several I mean a lot). And I keep thinking "why in the hell did I wait to do this???"
     
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  2. agpr

    agpr Mu-43 Regular

    153
    Nov 2, 2010
    Heraklion, Crete
    Sorry to hear what you have been through and wish everything ends well.
    You can never be too cautious when comes to digital safety. You might want to consider having a backup system (disk or NAS) that you connect from time to time to your system. That way you protect your self against cryptolocker-like threats.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    637
    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Dennis
    Totally.

    NAS backups are fantastic. The only thing they don't protect against is destruction of home + theft.
     
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  4. listers_nz

    listers_nz Mu-43 Veteran

    256
    Nov 22, 2013
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Simon
    Have to agree, you can never have too many backups.
    On my home network I have a media centre PC for movies, music, etc, and I have my photos stored on there. I also have a NAS drive on the network, and everything gets automatically backed up from the media PC to the NAS. I'm lucky in that I have a garage separate from the house, so the media PC is inside the house and the NAS is in the garage, which should cover the usual fire, theft, etc.
     
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  5. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    458
    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Paul
    I had a similar issue a few years ago with my wife's PC - fortunately not quite as many photographs as the OP so we did not go to the expense of using a specialist data recovery firm but bought a USB to SATA dock and used some low cost recovery software.

    Just to give the OP some hope we got the drive readable and ALL the photographs off the drive. Yes it took the software 18 hours to go through the drive recovering data which has got to be one if the most nervous waits watching a percentage count crawl upwards. We even put the drive back in the PC and it would start and run. We then ran a backup changed the drive and re-installed everything and used the backup to bring the PC back to the point it failed.

    If myself, a reasonably proficient amateur, can have that level of success I truly believe the OP will get their photographs back.

    As they say "once bitten, twice shy" so now nearly all the photographs are kept on my PC. This was built by me with a RAID 5 hard disk array with a hot spare made up of enterprise level HD's so will survive a single drive failure. I have even tested it by unplugging one of the drives and even during recovery the PC was usable but slow

    This (and the three other PC's in the house) are backed up daily onto a NAS drive. This has two drives set up to mirror each other again to provide a degree of resilience.

    The NAS is backed up twice a week to removable drives that one is kept at my wife's sisters and one in my car and rotated and we have checked we can get data off the drives onto other PC's.

    Total additional cost over a simple PC ? A bit more than a good prime and less than the cost of one of the F2.8 zooms
     
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  6. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    637
    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Dennis
    I've somehow had my data moved from HD to HD over the last 15 years without a huge loss somehow. For more specifics: I do a live back up to a NAS that's RAID-1 or my storage drive- which I keep all of my photos (and everything really) on from the last 15 years or so. I've thought about doing a cloud back up, but the amount of data to move would be pretty large.
     
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  7. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    715
    Jul 23, 2010
    I had a hard drive die on me about 2004 and as luck would have it the only stuff I lost was the stuff not burnt on DVD/CD and on a couple of disks that had gone bad. It was a good early wake up call and I have since then been able to ride over various drive failures by having a lot of copies spread around on dvd and hd also I buy at least one hard drive that covers the entire volume of my archives each year. I would recommend getting one of the desktop drive dock things and using bare drives as it is easier than having to swap multiple usb/fw drives with different power supplies etc, also tend to buy a different make to the last one.
     
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  8. Levster

    Levster Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Reading this has prompted me to sign up for cloud storage. I already back up to a NAS which in turn is backed up to an external hard-drive, but this wouldn't guard me against fire. I've signed up to a local supplier in Portsmouth, UK. Dropbox were quite expensive for 200GB of storage but http://www.novatechcloud.com/ currently offer unlimited (2TB) for £9.95 per month.
     
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  9. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    965
    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    Geoff
    MJ, I had noticed you weren't posting and I am sorry to hear about the crash. I hope the recovery programme works, your warnings have prompted me to back up today. Thanks for the nudge and let us know the result ... fingers crossed. Geoff
     
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  10. Dewi

    Dewi Mu-43 Regular

    138
    Jan 11, 2014
    Lancashire, England
    Dewi
    Coincidentally, I've just finished backing up my computer hard drive onto a new external HD which I bought ages ago. I've been meaning to do for it for months now, but kept putting it off to do more "important stuff". Then we had a power cut here a week or so back and I must admit to being a tad worried when it all came back on and I powered the computer back up, I heaved a sigh of relief to find all was ok. I do have another external hard drive which I used to back up regularly but it got full about 18 months ago and nothing got backed up afterwards so although I wouldn't have lost everythng I would still have lost an awful lot of photos from two European road trips & family events etc, plus lots of other things. The power cut incident promted me to get my finger out and do the back up, sure it took ages but most definitely worth it for the peace of mind.

    Fingers crossed that you get your Photos back M.J - keep us posted on how it goes
     
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  11. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 Top Veteran

    708
    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Rob
    Hi Web-Betty, really sorry to hear about your data loss, hope it works out OK in the end...

    On the subject of backups and overall data safety:

    I have had (for many years) some 3rd party software running on my PC that makes daily backups to a remote NAS drive. I was fairly happy with that till I read recently about the outbreak of "ransomware" such as cryptolocker. Then I realised that if I got infected with that, it would probably get to my NAS backups as well.

    So now I have made the photo partition of the NAS drive read-only to all my Windows userids. It is only "read-write" to a separate userid (set up via the NAS control panel) which doesn't exist in Windows on my PC. Then my third party backup software can be configured to use that "special" userid to write to the NAS, and I *HOPE* that if I was infected by malware like cryptolocker, it'd be unable to hit my NAS.

    Just something else to think about...

    Rob
     
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  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Thanks for this reminder, Betty! As it happens, my main local backup went down yesterday. When I say went down, I mean that literally as it fell from a 5ft high shelf smack into a hard wood floor and seems to not be functioning. I do have a cloud backup on Amazon Glacier plus other local backups, but my latest photos are only on the primary drive right now (plus the better ones are on Flickr), and I appreciate your nudge not to wait. I'll get those on the other local backup drive today.

    I'm very sorry to hear of your catastrophe and hope you can recover everything. I can relate to your experience in that years ago many of my books containing printed photos were ruined by water damage. What an awful feeling!
     
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  13. mjw

    mjw Mu-43 Veteran

    214
    Sep 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Matt
    Like the others, I'm sorry this happened, but I'm glad the data should be recoverable. FWIW, I've been using CrashPlan for years, and it's really great. I've been lucky in that I haven't had a complete failure, but it's helped me recover old versions of files on multiple occasions.
     
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  14. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 Top Veteran

    708
    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Rob
    Hi Amin,

    What software do you use for backup to AWS Glacier? I have used Amazon S3 for a long time (via Jungledisk). Glacier is very attractive due to the lower cost, but I've not seen any compelling (Windows) products that used it? Or are you using something Mac-ish!?

    Cheers,

    Rob
     
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I use the "Pro" version of a Windows client called FastGlacier. I manually move stuff there about once every 1-2 months and otherwise rely upon my local backups, Flickr, and print.
     
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  16. coffeecat

    coffeecat Mu-43 Top Veteran

    708
    Aug 4, 2012
    SW England
    Rob
    Thanks Amin - FastGlacier looks like something I might well try out. I currently have circa 220GB of image files, it might take a month to upload if I leave my PC on 24/7, but then would give me a "last-resort-OMG" backup archive for less than the cost of a latte per month.

    Rob
     
  17. mjw

    mjw Mu-43 Veteran

    214
    Sep 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Matt
    What is the cost savings of something like this vs. real time backup via a service like CrashPlan?
     
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Rob, depends on your upload speed. I'm on one of the higher tier FIOS plans, and I've uploaded about 50GB to Glacier since seeing this thread earlier today.

    I don't know what CrashPlan costs, but Glacier is $0.01 / GB / month for storage. The upload part is free, but there is a small charge for transfer out of Glacier.

    The way I see Glacier is that it's not for cloud storage of stuff you expect to want to access. It's a way of putting important stuff in a deep freeze in case of disaster, and it's fairly cheap for that purpose. A terabyte is $10/month.

    Maybe other services like Carbonite or Crash Plan come out cheaper, but I trust Amazon to be around for a long time, and the costs of Glacier are more than acceptable to me.
     
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  19. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I'm probably asking for trouble. I store most of my images on my iMac (and transferred them all to a new iMac last year) and also burn CDs and DVDs. But those discs that are more than five years old are probably corrupt. Some people also store their images in the cloud - particularly useful for those in my neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    I could easily purchase an additional hard drive. I'll think about the cloud but I have issues with many photo sites like Flickr and I don't like paying for cloud storage. I really need to have more of my photos printed - even if cheaply at the local drug store.
     
  20. slmoore

    slmoore Mu-43 Regular

    43
    Feb 15, 2014
    Oklahoma
    A service that I signed up for last fall for picture backups is PictureLife.com. It sucks all the pictures from your PC/Mac/iPhone (no Android yet I don't think), and uploads to their cloud. They can handle raw, and for Mac users using Aperture or iPhoto it also grabs things like events and star ratings. The cool thing about it is that once they have everything, you can then get to all of your pictures from anywhere via their website or iOS app. And they send you an email every day that includes pictures taken on this day in previous years which is pretty neat. Anyway I like it and thought I'd share. It is not a full-fledged backup of everything, but it is a pretty seamless way to get your pics backed up.
     
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