Data disaster!

Posted: March 16, 2013 by Ben Weber in English, Photography, videos
Tags: , , , , , ,

I haven’t been posting much recently, for something I think I mentioned briefly in a couple of posts, in that we have had a bit of a data disaster… well, two data disasters really… and I have been waiting to try and get things sorted out.

First problem occurred in the Orkney Islands with a Compact Flash Disk -a 32GB Sandisk Extreme card, that had accumulated 27GB of photos and video from a couple of days on the island. I was about to upload the information to the computer, and was previewing a couple of photos on the computer… when suddenly the computer stopped reading the card and started saying it needed formatting. Very annoying considering all that information and the images from those beautiful islands. (Reading about this CF card afterwards, even though Sandisk are considered good, a number of people have had this problem with this particular CF card)

Second and much worse… when starting to organize all the photos and video from the entire LEJOG course we had gone through, with everything temporarily on an external 1TB hard drive before we copied them to our main backup server… (though quickly editing some video to put as a short clip on the site)… the HD fell on to the ground. Entirely my own fault. I picked it back up and initially it was still being read by the computer, though making a beeping sound… I didn’t realize exactly what this meant until it was too late (it basically means “unplug, now!!!” because the motor had been damaged) and then it stopped working.

Extremely frustrating and annoying. We have hopes that the data can be recovered – we have taken to specialists here in São Paulo who have run a diagnosis: the HD has got damaged MTF and LBA sectors, as well as bad blocks and a broken motor – they think there is a 65% chance of total data recovery – while the CF disk has defective MTF and LBA sectors. Whatever exactly these sectors are, am not sure (reading about it they seem to do with the way all the information is organized, though ultimately for me it is a bit meaningless)… though the specialists here think that the CF disc has only 50% chance of total recovery. All for a total cost of about US$ 1200 for them both.

Looking at companies in the United States and it seems that things aren’t any cheaper up there either, with prices with Ontrack being between US$900-$2000, just for the hard drive. Another company, Platinum Recovery estimate between US$500-$1450 for the HD and $200-$900 for the CF disc… oh and we would have to fedex things to them and get another HD back… without doing their own diagnosis, they give an average of 95% recovery…

What to do? Well, we have to get the data back, so not much choice in the matter, and thinking about all the potentially lost files is quite sad, so I guess we just have to bite the bullet. Lessons learned? Yes. Nasty lessons which you don’t want to have to repeat in a hurry:

Always back up everything you can as soon as you can no matter where you are. If you can, backup in multiple locations; on to the cloud if possible and will have access to fast internet connections, but if not bring other spare HDs.

Use smaller memory discs in your camera. 27GB is a lot of information to lose. It might not be as convenient or easy to use smaller cards, but you don’t have to worry so much. Coming back to the previous point, if your camera has a slot for a second memory card like mine, use it for backing up instead of for extra space.

Painful thinking about all of this – to be honest I just want the  images and video back, which would be like anyone in a similar situation.

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