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Night Of The Living Dead Hard Drives





In honor of Halloween, I present to you the sad tale of my dead hard drives.   Yes, the Warped Prism suffered a major technological blow about a week or so ago.   While replacing the power supply inside my computer tower, I somehow triggered some sort of overvoltage event that killed BOTH my internal hard drives and DVD drive at the same time.   I will spare you the long twisting tale of troubleshooting that took place to piece together what had actually transpired.   The bottom line was, both the hard drives were dead.   There was some hope of bringing them back to life, like the six million dollar man, but alas that did not pan out.   I opened them up (carefully), and found that a big chip on the circuit board in both…the “smooth” motor controller chip was burned.    That effectively ended the quest for resurrection, and professional data recovery costs nearly six million dollars.  OK, I made that up, but it is still too expensive for me.

What did I loose?   Well, I had all my photos on the second internal drive, on the theory that if the main drive with Windows and other programs on it failed, the photos would survive.   I never expected to loose both drives at the same time.   I did have a partial (probably 80 percent complete)  backup of photos on an external drive, so I recovered those.   I lost all my originals of several more recent excursions, like the car show and those at Sunset Road/Hawk Road I recently posted.   Those were not yet backed up.  Perhaps most distressing….I lost my Lightroom catalog backups.   I thought those backups were going to my external drive, but apparently they were backing up to one of the now dead internal drives.  So about two years of Lightroom edits are gone, in the sense I can’t go back and pick up where I left off on anything.   The finished products of my best material still survive as large jpgs on my website, which is some consolation.   I am starting over with Lightroom, and have imported all my originals that were backed up and moving on with my life.

Lessons learned:

1. Back up your originals, preferably externally.

2. Back up your Lightroom catalog, preferably somewhere external.

3. Be extra careful with static electricity etc. when opening up your computer.

I knew all this in theory, but I became lax after years of trouble free computing.   Just when you let your guard down, WHAM!  Reality bites.

Beware all who read this, do your backups and avoid my fate!   Happy Halloween.

4 responses

  1. oneowner

    THE HORROR!!! THE HORROR!!! I am crying as I write this.
    I have a similar configuration that you have – two internal drives loaded with photos and one external backup. I recently installed a SSD as my C drive that has the operating system and programs. They seem pretty reliable but I did not detect any increase in speed.
    I feel for you my friend. Tell me – how do you back up the lightroom cat to an external HD?

    October 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm

  2. Got you worried eh Ken? Thanks for the tears of sympathy sir. As far as backing up the LR catalog to an external drive goes….here’s the way it is in Lightroom 3 which I am still using.

    You have to get to the reminder window that pops up asking you if you want to back up or not in order to change WHERE the backup goes. {Edit Menu – Catalog Settings to set up WHEN you want the backups to occur, i.e. “Everytime Lightroom Exits”. You probably already have that set up.} Anyhow, when it is time for the backup a reminder window pops up with buttons saying “skip until tomorrow”, “skip this time”, and “backup”. In the upper right of that dialog window you should see a button simply labeled “choose”. That “choose” button then lets you change the destination of your catalog backup.

    You’d think you could change the backup destination folder from Edit-Catalog Settings, but you actually have to get to that last pop up window that occurs just as you are about to do the actual backup in order to change the destination.

    That’s my understanding of it anyway! Good luck, and happy backups.

    November 1, 2012 at 9:04 am

  3. Cedric Canard

    This is indeed a sorry tale and I am sorry to hear of it Charles. Back in the days of film and negatives I use to lose photos fairly often because we used to move a fair bit and somehow boxes got misplaced and lost along the way. The trick was not to pack the photos with the negatives and pack across multiple boxes. Interestingly, these days I am more lax than I was back then. Technology tends to give a false sense of security I guess. I admit that I don’t take my backups to seriously other than for family photos. I don’t think I could bear putting my wife through what you would have gone through (still going through probably). I keep my family pics on three drives, one on the computer, one on a USB drive with RAID 1 and one on a USB drive I keep at work. And then there is a bunch I upload to Facebook and Flickr. I use SkyDrive to keep the drive at work in sync which means I never have to bring it home.

    As for my own, non-family snaps, I don’t tend to be so vigilant. Perhaps it’s because I load my photos on the Internet. I guess that’s a form of backup right? The truth is I am not sure how I’d feel if I went through what you went through. I don’t remember being too upset when I once lost all my (film) photos from a 6-week trip to Ireland. Most likely I’m just wired weirdly. I find that I don’t get attached to stuff much. I’ve been told that’s not a good thing.

    In any case I do feel for you. I sincerely hope it never happens again.

    November 5, 2012 at 5:50 am

    • Somehow, to my everlasting shame, I had totally missed seeing your comment until just now Cedric. On the off chance you ever make it back to this thread, I want to say thank you sir for sharing your backup related experience.

      February 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm

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