This made me glad I shot film all these years...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by marylandphoto, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. marylandphoto

    marylandphoto Member

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    Since 1994 or so, I've been saving computer files that I may have needed, but mostly wanted to look at. They were mainly Word documents, and over the years I accumulated about 250 GB worth of stuff backed up. I saved e-mails, countless things I'd written, special lists of things I'd kept, saved games, my mp3/flac collection, and since 2006, had all my digital picture files backed up. To make a long story short, they ended up on a 300GB external hard drive that I figured would last until it outlived its usefulness, in which case, I would just back them up on a regular hard drive.

    So here I have a few digital pictures, and everything else on this drive, which I presumed would last as long as I needed it. Well, by an accident whose details I will leave out, the entire drive got accidentally overwritten in a manner so easy it makes me realize how fragile binary data is. I don't mean the files got accidentally deleted, for they could be easily recovered, but the entire thing got overwritten. A decade and a half's worth of priceless, irreplaceable things gone with little effort. It was as if I had kept all my papers in a shed and it burnt down.

    I tried in vain to correct the situation, tried using recovery software. No luck. Everything that I've done digitally in the last 15 years is gone. I sat there, wondering to myself, what I could've done to deserve this. I can't even begin to tell you what was on there. If I live to be 110, I hope I'll look back and not find many things worse than this. Significant sections of my life were on that drive. I tried to find any solace I could in the situation, and then, I remembered...

    I still have all my slides and negatives, (ALL of which were shot in the digital era) which would take a lot more effort to destroy. I unfortunately never wrote on the typewriter much, and never received many letters, but my analog pictures are still there. And, with all the things I lost, these treasures have become even more important to me. We all love our film for so many reasons, but the romance of having the physical, permanent, natural process is always what did it for me, and now, it's becoming practical too.
     
  2. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    I have several digital copies of everything I shot and I usually bring a couple of film cameras along on digital projects sometimes just for archival purposes. It's a shame 100 years from now all people are going to find in attics are corrupt hard disks demagnetized floppies scratched up CD's and DVD's. This year I'm going to buy a trio of 1tb HDD's specifically for the purpose of file storage but I need to find some kind of physical piece of storage like a giant CD that doesn't need electricity to store just pop it in and go, except I have filled up an entire 250gb drive with everything I shot in 2010.
     
  3. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I've always been a little amused at the specifications for disk drives where they call out an MTBF of 100,000 hours or more and then further down the page state "Service Life: 5 years." I'm sure in the grand scheme of reliability calculations there's an explanation, but one is wise to keep multiple backup copies and replace/refresh every three to five years.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you are really serious about saving your digital photography for good, get it all transferred to film with a film recorder. That way you have an analog backup to all your digital backups. I know DR5 is one of the places that does this. You can have pix put on anything from 35mm to 4x5, I believe.
     
  5. boswald

    boswald Member

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    Pride goeth before the fall(gazillions of gigahertz!! CDs will last forever!(unlike those stupid old vinyl records, or music written on paper)
     
  6. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    You need to have backups of anything saved on a computer, whether digital photos or word docs. I can't believe how many people put everything on a single drive and get upset when it does, as all mechanical devices eventually do. A nice thing about digital photos or scans is you can have multiple copies of the files, kept on separate external drives in multiple locations. My work is kept on matched triplicate sets of drives. One set at my place, one at my parents house and one at another family members place. The ones at other locations are insurance against a theft or fire at my place! I have thousands of photos, mostly scans from film, on my archives. My life's work, I cannot afford to lose it. I still have the film, of course, but a fire would destroy them too! Also, The YEARS it took to scan them all would be lost.
     
  7. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Man I'm sorry to hear that. Really sucks. I'm in a similar situation in that I have quite a bit of digital data dating back to about 1994. I make sure there are two backup copies of it at all time. I've lost some things over the years due to being young and stupid, i.e. having a file only live in one place like a CD-R, but fortunately, the bulk of my stuff survived until I got serious about making backups. Now for about $200 you can get two identical 1 TB drives and keep double backups. In two or three years, buy a new set and continue the process.
     
  8. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I would recommend you look into DriveSavers.

    They can likely recover your data, for a fee of course. Not cheap, but might be worth it.

    And in the future, many backups, at least one off-site in case of fire or theft.
     
  9. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    One of my friends got a new external harddrive (one of those WD passport drives) and brought it into the university to have it formatted for the macs we use. The technician was walking him through the process and accidentally selected the wrong drive - and reformatted his old drive that was also plugged into the computer. A whole semester's work gone before they noticed. Luckily he had kept versions of most of the files scattered around in other places too.
    It happens.
     
  10. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    My wife did something similar to that with the hard drive on her computer and it cost $1700 USD to get it recovered because she had to get the photos back. The only photo on the drive I cared about was the one I took of our daughter at 8 minuets old, that photo is now backed up in about 5 places that I can retrieve it from within seconds, and with several relatives in digital form. Just to be on the safe side I found out that my local drug store can make chemical prints from digital and I had three made and they are in the hands of family as well.

    At this point I have learned that the only archival quality stuff I have is my B&W, and my Kodachrome, I will never trust Digital, C-41, or E-6 like I do B&W and Kodachrome.
     
  11. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    One copy is not a backup, it is your one and only copy. Sorry, no sympathy here.

    Film, love it as much as I do, cannot be losslessly replicated like data to geographically diverse locations. See for example the loss of historically significant photo archives that were stored in the WTC basement and if you think it takes a lot to destroy your negs, you better hope like hell you never have a house fire.
     
  12. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    With sympathy and respect, but if that drive was your back-up, how can all be lost?

    P.S.
    I should read a thread to the end before posting a reply: see that Polyglot made the same point. Sorry for the redundancy.
     
  13. marylandphoto

    marylandphoto Member

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    I suppose I should not have left out some key details about that drive being a "backup." It was created as a backup to my main hard drive, which also had the same content. THAT one crashed, and I had to get a new computer, thus leaving the backup as the only one with the files. They were going to be transferred to the new computer from the backup, but got accidentally erased by a friend of mine in a very long story.

    Nevertheless, it's not something that I intended to happen, and while I realize that film too, can be destroyed, it couldn't be done in the same manner as my hard drive disappearing.
     
  14. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    bummer...
    sorry for the troubles you had ....
     
  15. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    a data recovery specialist *should* be able to recover your data, overwritten or not I believe. you'd have to zero the drive to really pooch it, from what I understand
     
  16. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Been there, done that, glad most of my important stuff is on film. If my house burns to the ground I got bigger problems than lost pictures. :smile: Lesson learned, back up, keep current backups, and put a bunch of stuff online in a place like smugmug.
     
  17. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    Sorry to hear about your data loss.

    I feel bad saying this at APUG, but if you want me to have a look, I will (more about me here so you can tell me apart from various "rescue software").
    Ted
     
  18. komla

    komla Member

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    Have happened to me too, more than 1 backup solved the problem.

    Btw, recovery of deleted but not overwritten files is easy. Recovery of overwritten files is close to impossible, it can not be done by anybody, not even the recovery experts
     
  19. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    it is harder, and sometimes impossible, but not necessarily always impossible.
     
  20. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    If I understand correctly, the methods of recovering overwritten data mostly involve analog properties of the magnetic media, right? So I think your offer is right on topic.

    -NT
     
  21. Markster

    Markster Member

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    To simplify it, a file is a bunch of data written to clusters on the disk. The clusters can be almost anywhere. The File Allocation Table (the same FAT acronym you might recognize from FAT16 and FAT32) keeps a list of the many thousands/millions of clusters. It just says "this file uses this cluster, goes here, uses that cluster, goes here, uses that cluster" and so on.

    Fast formats (or deletions) destroy the file allocation table. That means all the links to the many thousands/millions of clusters are gone. The clusters are there, but there's no association with anything. Hence they are all lumped in with "free space" and will be over-written whenever the next file gets assigned that cluster.

    So, file retrieval tools or firms use something that scans the "free space" clusters for files, extracts them, and re-saves them.

    The problem is when you over-write some or all of the clusters. You can get corruption in the files, missing parts, or if there aren't enough clusters left intact by the time the effort is made, the file can be lost entirely. (assuming it's not lost when re-installing the operating system.

    These clusters could be used for swap files, for temporary files, for any number of things. The key is to minimize the use of that HD in all circumstances until you get the files "undeleted"... Otherwise every time you do something that accesses the HD, you run the risk of over-writing more and more of the files you want to save.