Friday, January 10, 2014

My thoughts on digital storage {New Braunfels Photography}

I still have all my film negatives from the pre-digital age. Everything I ever shot on film is neatly stored away in a safe place. I'm screwed if there's a fire, but they're pretty safe from damage for the most part.

I can't say the same about the digital age. I made the digital switch in around 2006. But I continued shooting film with my SLR and digital with my little Fuji Finepix for a while further. I switched totally to digital at around 2008 when I got my first DSLR.

Many of my early digital files are no longer in existence. During a routine file transfer onto an external hard drive, my darling husband kicked over the external hard drive and all files on it were lost. Hard lesson. Fortunately, I had not started photographing clients at that time and I only lost some personal images that would be really cool to have now. Lesson learned. From that point on I made sure my files were all saved in at least two places. My work flow goes like this. Once I shoot a session or wedding. I download to my internal hard drive. I make a copy onto an external hard drive. I process the images and upload them onto my online storage gallery and move the processed images to my external hard drive as well.

After a few months, I delete the images from my internal storage so I'm only left with the external hard drive storage and the online storage.

I don't completely trust online storage. We've all heard horror stories about failures in that method of storage and it's totally out of our hands. So I can't totally trust that the online storage is fool proof. And of course I can't totally trust that my external hard drive is safe.

Case in point, just last week I had an issue with one of my cords behind the computer. I asked darling Jayme to take a look down there. While under my desk he accidentally bumped my Seagate 1TB external hard drive to the carpeted floor just a couple of feet below. We plugged it in and it seemed to recognize the hard drive and we breathed a sigh of relief. But that relief turned to terror the next day when I actually tried to access some of the files on that drive. The computer didn't see them. And the drive started making a horrible churning sound. Great! So I went to Seagate's site and downloaded their software to see if it could fix it. Nope, they recommended sending it in for evaluation. So I paid their $50 evaluation fee and sent it off with a prayer that the files could be recovered. I wasn't too worried because I store everything in two places, I just dreaded the prospect of having to go online and download all those weddings, sessions, family photos from my online storage. It's a chore. But there were some files that I stored on the external hard drive that I did not have in multiple places. I paid $99 for some album templates, digital backgrounds and papers and some fonts. Those would be gone forever if they couldn't recover them.

A few days later I got a nice little e-mail from Seagate telling me they could recover the files -- for a mere $1,250.

That's crazy, I thought! One little knock to the carpeted floor could cost me $1,250?!

So I declined their lovely offer.

They immediately sent another email. I'll just paste it right here so as not to leave anything out:

"Good Afternoon Lisa,

> > I am not certain if you received my voice message. I was reviewing > your case more closely and realized that your original drive is under > warranty. We recently released a pilot program for clients that have > a Seagate drive under warranty and trying to recover basic flat files > (office documents, pictures, movies, music and videos). If we recover > 80%+ of these basic flat files, we consider the case successful. We > use your replacement drive for the recovered data. It appears your > drive is under warranty until 2/1/14. The cost of the pilot program > is a flat fee of $399.00, less the $49.00 eval fee (plus any > applicable taxes). Please advise if you are interested in the Pilot > program (approximately 4 week lead time). If you have any questions, > please advise.

> > Regards,
> Case Manager
> Data Recovery Division"

Well isn't that nice of them?! Because I've had my 1TB hard drive for less than a year, they'll gladly give me all my lost files for a mere $399 minus the $49 evaluation fee. Wow, that's just so sweet of them! (Note the sarcasm).

They even have a whole division called the "Data Recovery Division." A group of people who's whole job is to get paid to sell people their files back when their hard drives fail!

So I decided to respond with my own little brand of charity.


I am disinclined to take this offer. But because my drive is under warranty, I would like a new drive. Although I don't know if I will trust it again.

I am a photographer and I need a place to archive all my past sessions and weddings. That's what I was using the drive for. I don't trust just one storage method, however, so I also archive online. So pretty much everything that was on the drive is also backed up online. There are a few digital papers and digital textures that were on the drive that I didn't have backed up, but they cost me $99 to purchase so I don't see the value in spending $349 on recovering something that cost me $99.

I'd also like to say that I am very disappointed in the durability of the Seagate drives if a 2-foot fall from a desk onto a carpeted floor will damage it. I also don't see the value in a drive that will hold 1 TB worth of files if all those files can be wiped out instantly with a bump to the desk and a short fall to the floor. It would make more sense to get smaller drives so that if it does fall, you lose just a few gigs of files and not a whole freakin' TB. I'm just glad this happened early on before I filled the whole thing and lost backups to 2 years worth of work instead of just one.

No, I will be downloading my files from my online storage and putting them onto another, more secure and less fragile hard drive for long term storage. I am very disappointed in this whole mess. It seems you have, however, found a nice racket. Make fragile, big capacity hard drives, and then when people lose their files from small falls or minor dings, you can charge them outrageous fees to recover those files. Nice little income stream there.

Thank you for the reduced offer, but no thanks. I just can't justify that fee and I'm a bit bitter about the whole situation. I'd really like a refund of the evaluation fee and a refund or replacement of the drive.

Lisa Blaschke, C.P.P."

Her response was a cold, clear message. They're sending me a replacement drive only. No word on refunding my evaluation fee or on the security of their hardware.

So for the next few weeks I'll be downloading and backing up from my online storage. It's all I can do at this point. And ponder about a more secure method of long term storage of digital files. CDs and DVDs wear out quickly. Various drives and storage mediums become obsolete so fast (remember floppy discs and zip drives?)

My search for the perfect solution is ongoing. But that box full of film negatives will most likely outlive us all.

Lisa On Location Photography