22 Apr 2009

Are you ready to loose your family memories?

photo expires

Digital cameras, both video and photographs, give us the opportunity to capture all those important moments in our lives and revisit them  in the future. This is so easy and so convenient. I wish my parents would have taken more pictures of my youth or theirs. I often spend some time reviewing my digital library and it’s always rewarding experience.

I could say that, except for my source control repository and my project wikis, these pictures and videos are the most important files to me.

I keep several copies around. I use my WHS to duplicate them in various hard drives, and I regularly (when I remember to do so) burn them in DVDs and send them to my parents house.

Well, I must admit that working with computers all day makes you more aware of the importance to back up your important stuff. Other people have to learn it by themselves.

A couple of months ago, my sister call me in panic. Her hard drive was broken and the only thing that mattered to her, his pictures, were there. What I can I do?, she asked. And unfortunately my answer was… I’m afraid that not much.

She tried to contact one of those companies which retrieves lost data from broken disk, but they asked too much money for the work. It was too late for her. Fortunately I kept a copy of her memory card, but that was about the 20% of her pictures.

And then today, a very good friend of mine asked my to make him a copy of a CD which contained all his digital photos. Not too many I must say, but this guy only started to take pictures a few years ago when his first child was born.

When I tried to open one of the folders of this CD, nothing happened. I tried another one and Windows Explorer froze. The DVD drive was spinning the disk like crazy. But no pictures appeared. Tried another drive, nothing. Another computer, nothing. I feel really sad by my friend.

I phoned and tell him the bad news. Sorry man, but you’ll have to use your old-fashioned brain memories to remember how your children were when they were babies. Fortunately for him, he prints most of his photographs, so paper saved his family memories!

Many of us no longer print photographs. At least not too many. Maybe just one or two as a present for somebody. So we would have not been so lucky if we loose our hard drive or our backup DVD. So do yourself a favor and put some backup strategy in place.

You must have every important file at least in two separate locations. It’s not enough to burn a DVD and leave it in a drawer. You need to burn two of them and put them on separate drawers, on separate desks and on separate houses. And even then, you still need to do backups of them, because usual consumer writable DVDs does not last 100 years (some lasts as little as 2 years! ouch!).