Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
When General failure reads your hard drive19/12/2009 - 11:49 PM
As Sunday evenings go, it started off uneventfully just like any other. Children in bed, the little television of interest viewed and then, with a mug of coffee in hand I settled down in front of the PC editing images. The intended relaxation failed to materialise. Instead, the evening turned to Armageddon as the four horsemen of the photographic apocalypse called round to my house.
Attempting to load a particular image took a significant amount of time, at the end of which a Photoshop prompt advised me that the file could not be opened. I tried an alternative file, with similar results. I launched Windows explorer to check the files directly. The situation soon deteriorated, when a system prompts indicated there was a problem accessing the drive, which then disappeared completely from “My Computer”, like it was never there. The computer was rebooted, though the drive remained as elusive as the Scarlett Pimpernel. The disk, which stored my digital photographs, had just failed right before my eyes. To be concise, every digital photograph I had ever taken, was now gone.
With a background spanning 18 years working professionally within IT, I knew instinctively that failures like this only happened to “other people”. Naturally, I would never need the backup that I could now restore from, so I never made one.
Have you ever had to break the news to a mother that the photographic record of the first years of her two children’s lives is no longer available? I have. (A telephone call, particularly an international one, would be my future preferred method.)
Every tool at my disposal failed to detect, let alone read the disk. Disaster recovery specialists provided quotes which were best described as “significant”. It was placed on a bookshelf until the day that funds would be available to pay for recovery.
It transpired that a known firmware bug in the failed Maxtor drive was responsible for the catastrophe. More interesting however was the profound effect the disaster had on me, and my photography. Faced with the prospect of starting all over again, I wasn’t inclined to do so. My interest waned for some time and, when it was there, it was lacking the enthusiasm and purpose previously enjoyed. It was not dissimilar to a heavy blanket of depression that can smother you in lethargy.
Over the years I had amassed quite a collection of quality photographic equipment, the value of which was now insignificant to me. I was painfully and unnecessarily reminded that the true worth was the output from the hardware rather than the hardware itself. While I could just purchase the same or perhaps better equipment (funds permitting), Autotrader failed to find a Delorean with a working flux capacitor, making time travel slightly problematic.
Many months later, I heard of a tool in passing and downloaded a trial. It recovered every single byte of photographic data previously lost, and all for a few dollars. I’d got my mojo and my photographs back!