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Life’s good when you have a (hard drive) backup plan!

December 6, 2010

I recently had an interesting experience that illustrates why I’m always bugging my students to create a backup plan for their computers and their photography files, and be diligent about keeping up-to-date. I know this doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject, but believe me, without a backup plan I would have gotten rather excited.

Here’s what happened. While shooting some models for a jewelry client, with the camera tethered into Lightroom, I think I must’ve gotten a bit carried away and shot too fast for the camera’s buffer to manage. Lightroom got sort of locked up and I was facing the spinning beach ball. I tried to quit Lightroom and when that didn’t work I glibly shut down the computer altogether. That’s when things started to get worse. When I relaunched Lightroom and tried to shoot into it things locked up again and I had to crash the computer again. I tried again, and again with similar results. I did manage to get through that shoot and it seemed like things were okay. However, when I reviewed the files many of them were reported as damaged in Lightroom and they had some pretty strange looking patterns all over them. Then the whole hard drive started to behave strangely. When I restarted the computer, the hard drive wouldn’t mount anymore. I tried disk repair (a Mac utility for repairing hard drives) but no luck. The drive directory had a fatal error, probably due to my having crashed the computer a couple of times.

Of course this is the drive that contains all my photographs both personal and client work, so I was more than a little disturbed. After trying a few more repair tricks to no avail I decided to simply turn to my back up system. I completely reformatted the faulty drive (that was a scary moment), then I used my recently updated backup drive to restore all my photos and files! SilveKeeper made it very easy to do, I just had to plug in my backup drive, launch SilverKeeper and click restore. It took a couple of hours to copy over all the data but when it was done by drive was totally back in order with all my photos intact and recognized by Lightroom. Big sigh of relief!

Fortunately, all the shots from the days shoot were safely intact on the camera cards so all I had to do was import them into Lightroom and everything was good. Now that I’ve told you my little horror story, I thought I’d share my actual backup system so you can easily see how it works and how you can implement it for yourself (Here’s a PDF you can download):

The key to this system is having Off Line backups of your drives, that are not plugged in when you’re working.  That way, if something gets corrupted, as happened to me, your Off Line backup gallops in to the rescue!

Okay, so I know this is a bit mundane as a subject, but it just saved me from a whole world of pain and anxiety! And now I hope it will save you from the same.

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One comment

  1. […] system that professional photographers use, look to Rob Davidson’s system <https://robsinlight.com/2010/12/06/lifes-good-when-you-have-a-hard-drive-backup-plan/&gt;. Rob uses two large external hard drives connected to his main Apple computer. One hard […]



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