What not to do ... costly reminder

I have for the first time in 20 years of using computers paid dearly for a backing up hiatus!

Over 2,000 Australian dollars!

I typically do complete backups irregularly to external hard disks prior to overseas travel and do not normally bother for domestic travel.

After a change of machine and needing to shuffle files between the two I had irregular backups this past year.

While returning my laptop to a backpack style bag 2 months ago I was distracted and the laptop feel flat on its lid. The machine was powering down at the time it fell, which must have exacerbated the problem.

The disk head dragged across the platter creating a scratch that left the disk unrecoverable by “cheap” data recovery methods.

I found a company in Australia who specialise in this work and 2 months later and 2,500AUD have almost all of my data back.

They first found an “identical” hard disk (minus the scratch) and dissembled both disks in a proper “clean room”. Then they transferred the head from the new disk to the damaged disk. Using specialised hardware, they then started transferring the information from the damaged disk to their server sector by sector. If the scratch was not so significant it may have completed in a few hours however, the read took over a month operating day and night! The scratch further damaged the new reading head so the whole thing took even longer than “normal”.

So …. the takeaway for me is to do daily backups – incremental and archive backups and to get more serious about offsite backups.

If this note helps one person save the money, frustration and time that I have just experienced it will be a worthwhile 5 mins writing it!

What backup routine, solution do you use?

Happy photographing and backup!

P.S. Image attached is one of the recovered file - hope it covers the cost of the repair :-)

Photo credits: Bevanward.

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August 09, 2010


I use Carbonite. They put a little green dot by the file when it has been backed up. It is great, I don't need to think about it at all, it always runs in the bg. It took a while in the beginning to back up the whole system but is now pretty seamless. I can turn it off at anytime if I think it is slowing things down, but don't really need to do this. I also have an external hard drive I backup to an a semi regular basis so I have a double back up. All the info for accessing my back up from Carbonite is in hard copy and I access with a user ID and Password. If ever I need to download all my files to another computer I would just go to my account and do so. I think it is $45 per year, I have it on an auto payment...

August 06, 2010


I wonder if anyone has had any positive experience with an online backup service? On that polls your machine and copies up changes constantly? I had been using the microsoft syntoy 2.0 which is extremely powerful. I had been using Robocopy and now Richcopy but to date needed to run it all through scripts. I understand the mac environment has some handsoff solutions that are unattended that work very well. I guess I'll keep looking.

August 06, 2010


Thanks for the heads up and reminder. I try to back up to DVD's, partial back ups on to three other laptops and 2 external HDD. Touch wood never lost data.

August 06, 2010


How about using DVD and Blu-ray as backups? Unless the disc quality is bad else there are no moving parts on the discs even if you drop it from a few storeys chances are that the data in the disc will still be accessbile. A combination of hard disks and DVDs should do the trick.

August 06, 2010


Thank you Bevanward for the reminder. I have too recently lost chunks of valuable data due to a hard drive failure. It's however alot worse as it was my backup hard drive where I normally use to store unprocessed photographs temporarily. Now I use two independent external hard drives, both acting as backup to each other in case something like this happens again.

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