I ended up running the Recover my Files program. When I first installed and tried to run these two programs, it seemed that the system would freeze and/or not recognize the corrupt drive. After awhile of that mess, I decided to quick format the drive, hoping that it would be recognized and trusting that the programs would be able to recover files anyway.
That did seem to help, but Final Recovery still appeared to hang. Perhaps I didn’t let it run long enough to register that it was working.
Recover my Files has a status bar that showed activity right away, so I let that one run.
After 5 or six days, it showed that if had located 14,000+ files and was 80% finished searching the drive. Because it hadn’t picked up any new files for a day, I stopped the search before it was complete. After another day, it had restored a few thousand files at least. But I haven’t had time to really go through what it saved. I can tell that there is a lot missing and that there are a lost of recovered files that seem to be corrupt. So it looks like I will lose a fair amount of data (mostly image files).
Before this happened, I had been accumulating all of my images onto this disk to facilitate an eventual backup to DVD (looks like I was dilatory). This means that many of the files had been copied from other drives, and it looks like I will be able to recover a large number of files that had been deleted on those drives too. All in all, I might be able to save 50% or more. Some of the lost files are on CD or online storage, perhaps another 10-15%. The biggest loss is of raw (.crw .cr2) image files; .tif and .jpg files seemed to have been recovered with better success. But I’d toss all of those to save the raw files.
RAW files, for those who aren’t familiar with them, are uncompressed image files, the native format of my brother’s very fancy digital camera. A lot of the photos are doubtless of his children (who are adorable, if I do say so myself).
The moral of this story, as of all the stories I tell in this newsletter, is back up sooner rather than later. It’s also important to remember the difference between storage and backup. If you’re an avid photographer like my brother and don’t have room on your main drive to keep all those photos, putting them onto an external drive is a logical move. But just because the photos aren’t stored on your internal drive doesn’t mean they’re backed up. You still have to make a second copy of them, and it’s a good idea to make that backup copy to a different medium. If you’re using DVDs as your main storage method, back the files up onto an external drive, and vice versa.
All of this reminds me that I should make more DVDs, myself, even though I now have many of my files stored on two or even three different hard drives. DVDs can get scratched or suffer from rot; hard drives, as we know, can fail in countless horrifying ways. By using more than one kind of backup, you’re insulating yourself against more possible problems.
Next week I’ll talk about why people don’t back up—even if they’ve suffered catastrophic data loss in the past.