Would You Like to Loose This?

Baylor School

Last week an external hard drive went bad.  It just stopped.  That darn thing only makes clicking sounds.  Reflexively my mind started to do the mental inventory dance.  There are a lot of important images on that drive.

As I stepped back to take stock of the loss, it began to sink in that my losses were minimal.  Only the most recent shoot had not been backed up to DVD and I found those on compact flash cards in my camera and camera bag!

I wish I could tell you that I can just pick up and move forward.  Something had slipped by me.  My external drives have more than one purpose.  They are the place where I transfer photos from my camera  and organize a shoot.  But it now is clear that I overlooked something.  While archived, there are images that I manage for my website and blogs.  These are sort of works in progress.  I now realize that some consideration needs to be given to an “active archive”.

I spoke with a local institutional IT director  about this and his thoughts were on a much grander scale.  Archiving images seems small in comparison.  Grade reports, schedules, student comments, faculty evaluations… This is just something that had not crossed my mind.  Back-ups of everything are replicated on off-site servers and back-up tapes are stored in a safe-deposit box!

Hopefully you will take from this is that the images you store on your hard drives and servers can vanish.  Photographers who treat archiving lightly tread on thin ice.  Since my work is always at risk of failure, I have to assume that the same could be true for my clients.

Paul O’Mara


4 thoughts on “Would You Like to Loose This?

  1. Hey Paul,
    You got off easy. Before I realized the value of archive backups, I lost every image on my only external hard drive. Lost every image I had ever scanned from film, and all of my early digital work. Sent the drive to DriveSavers and they got nothing! It was not pretty!

    Now I have a RAID system that automatically saves everything to 2 drives. When they fill up I take one to my house and leave the other hooked to my computer for easy access to the images.

    I do not trust DVD backup. They have been known to fail, especially if you write on them. And who knows if you’ll be able to read DVD’s in the future. Heck, we might not even be able to read my stored hard drives either.

    Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to off site online storage, but have been reluctant because of the price. I might end up going for it but with only my most important images.

    Best of luck!

    1. Nick, it’s a tough loss and I can relate. My take on the DVD storage is that the discs don’t get used often so if they are verified I think they have a good chance of preserving the data for a long time, how long? I don’t have a clue. No matter, long term storage is an issue and I’ve always wanted a less is more solution. Perhaps one day I’ll get to those old transparencies.


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