Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Whether by hardware failure, or by simple operator malfunction (in this case me), files were going to get lost or destroyed. On Friday, I inadvertently wiped out my Pictures folder on my Apple G5, all 160 Gigabytes of them. Yep, threw in the trash and then deleted trash. It's pretty scary to come back to your computer and see no Pictures folder anymore when just minutes ago you were working in there! Panic set in, but my background in computers kicked in, and I told myself "don't touch a thing" and called my partner in to consult with me. Turns out a friend had some recovery software, and we were able to successfully retrieve about 90% of the stuff, maybe even more. The software was PROSOFT's Data Rescue II for Mac, and it worked great!
I wouldn't have had to bother, but I had been working a lot the past week on minor imaging stuff - prepping pics for various vendor gallery pages, a submission for a gallery exhibit preview, next year's workshop brochures at various schools, thank you prints for friends, etc., and those had not been backed up - yet. I also had just moments before this amazing event consolidated all my digital teaching images and moved them into a new folder name. They were to be backed up next - until disaster struck.
Thankfully, I had heeded the warning of many colleagues, about doing multiple backups of all digital RAW files. So at least my trips to England/Ireland, Italy, Egypt, Florida, etc. were safely on backup drives. But what about the rest? Somehow, I have to spend time piecing the folders all back together now, but at least I can group them by their file size.
It turns out the recovery program strips off the file name and assign its own - with the file size in pixels in the name, but nothing that resembles the files names I had given to my teaching images, such as "laundryonbluewallburano.tif" or "leafonrockYosemite"! And that file, while a backup exists, is not as current as it should be.
That's my lesson here. I had done critical backups, but not frequently enough on some files. So this month, I'm working out a regime of daily or weekly backups to cover anything that changes on my imaging station hard drive. I know there's many ways to do this, but the key is make it simple so it will get done, regularly.
It's pretty intense around here at the moment as I try to figure out where I am, mostly for the digital image files I use for teaching, as I was prepping three new slide presentations. But if I hadn't had my backups, I'd be 'dead in the water' as they say. At least I can move forward and then spend time later figuring out the few things I might be missing.
I learned several things from this:
1. Make regular, complete backups of picture files and documents.
2. Make the process simple so you'll stick to the backup regime.
3. Don't think the stuff is safe from one day to the next. Any time you change something important, back it up.
4. The most obvious one - when fooling around with picture files, double check everything you're doing before hitting the delete trash button!
Even if the pictures you are making are only for fun, vacation, or class - they are valuable to you, personally. It's easy to say "oh, I'll back up next week", but that could be too late. A simple, inexpensive hard drive is all you need to transfer the pictures as you download to your system, so you at least two copies.
Back to the recovery process - have a great week, everyone!