Back-Up Your Computer, Your Photos, Your …

I’ve “preached” to many people about backing up their computers.

Personally, I’m very good about backing up my data every week – more often if I have a shoot.

Of course, no one is perfect and recently I got “bit in the ass.”

I thought I’d share my story today so you can learn from my mistake(s).

•  Mistake #1  –  about a year ago I bought a LaCie 4TB “2Big” system as extra storage for my photos.  I bought the LaCie because I couldn’t afford a Drobo, even though every professional photographer I knew told me to get a Drobo.  I was confident in my cheap ass decision because I’ve had good luck with the small LaCie “rugged” external drives.  Also, my new LaCie raid system came with a three year warranty ….

•  Mistake #2  –  I started moving my data around just prior to my trip to North Carolina but got too busy with pre-travel stuff to do it properly/carefully.  My laptop was “full,” so I hastily moved a ton of files off of it the night prior to departing for North Carolina.  I moved them to my LaCie.  Normally, I’d have backed-up the LaCie onto the Drobo (which I finally, recently, purchased), but I was out of control had a lot to do for my trip.  (Remember?  I had taken a sudden, unexpected, trip to San Francisco for the Google Glass event.  Taking an unexpected trip right before a planned trip put me into chaos-mode.)  Even though I knew I had left everything half-ass prior to my trip, I wasn’t worried about it.  After all, I had “everything” on my relatively new LaCie system.

•  Horrible Reality #1  –  The LaCie wouldn’t turn on when I returned from North Carolina.  Can you say dead as a doorknob?  And yes, I did check my power source, try alternative cables, blah, blah, blah …!  After attempting every normal non-techie way of reviving the dead LaCie system, I contacted LaCie.  After all, the system came with a three year warranty and the unit was/is still new.  Guess what?  The warranty doesn’t cover one penny of retrieving the data on the drives.  Data recovery is extremely expensive.  (Extremely!!)  LaCie did offer to take a lot of my money to retrieve my data from the bad drive system they sold me.  They even said they’d give me a replacement unit.  You know, in case I want to lose all my expensively recovered data again by using their unreliable system??  I had no trouble at all determining LaCie already has way more of my money than they deserve.  I refuse to pay them one cent for data recovery.  I don’t want a replacement unit either – I will never, ever, trust my data to LaCie again.

•  Horrible Reality #2  –  I mentioned my LaCie story on social media and people came out of the woodwork sharing their LaCie drive failure horror stories with me.  I wish I’d known before I made my LaCie purchase!  (Which is why I’m sharing this story with YOU.  Maybe someone else will be spared my pain?)

•  Attempt #1 to Clean Up The Mess  –  I contacted a local technology company I trust.  I’ve used them in the past for hardware issues and upgrades.  I’ve experienced great, fast, reliable, results.  They informed me they out-source data recovery.  “To who?” I asked.  They gave me the name and information for Drive Savers Data Recovery.

•  Attempt #2 to Clean Up The Mess  –  Late yesterday, I called Drive Savers and talked to a nice, very professional, man named Sam.  Before our conversation ended, Sam had already emailed me a FedEx shipping label so I could send my failed drive system to him overnight.  I made sure to let Sam know how much I appreciated the great customer service he provided.  (It was such a huge contrast to the frustration I felt dealing with LaCie!)  Sam informed me I’ll hear from Drive Savers with an estimate on my data recovery costs by noon today.  I’m relieved.  At last, I’ll finally know what I’m dealing with.

•  Horrible Reality #3  –  If my data can be recovered  (??)  , my cost from “the LaCie fiasco” will well exceed the cost of a Drobo unit.  That’s right, if I had bought the higher quality item to start with, I would have saved myself a ton of money.  Lesson learned – the hard way, of course.

•  Horrible Reality #4  –  If the data recovery estimate comes in too high, I won’t be able to afford recovering the files.  I might end up losing a lot of my work.  Yes, I’m an idiot.  I can’t believe I did something this stupid.  I’m *always* so good about having at least two back-ups of every shot I take.

I can hear my mom saying haste makes waste over and over again in my brain.

I’ll update you in a post soon –

Once I know whether or not I’ve permanently lost my data/files/work/art.

I’m sharing my stupidity carelessness with you so you might be wiser than I’ve been.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

If so, were you able to recover your data at a reasonable cost?

10 Responses to “Back-Up Your Computer, Your Photos, Your …”

  1. Aunt Baaa

    My husband and I are in the Mac consulting field and have been for a really long time. LaCie/Drobo/Synology all rely on hard drives. Hard drives have moving parts. Moving parts break/fail/malfunction. As my husband always says, it is not a matter of if a hard drive will fail, it is a matter of when.

    Your data is not truly safe unless it exists in at least three places. You need to use multiple technologies to do it. Cloning it/copying it doesn’t protect you. You may just be copying corrupt data from one location to another.

    Also, let’s say you use Carbonite. They don’t make multiple copies of your data, have a limit on file sizes and use one technology so that a firmware upgrade to their infrastructure can cause data loss.

    You really should have a copy of your data on site and off site in addition to your working copy.

    The sad part is that you are not alone. I do this for a living and warn people daily about this, but most people think we are just trying to scare them so that we can make more money. The reality is that we just want to protect their data from total loss. DriverSavers are fantastic, but they cost a fortune and most people can’t afford to pay several thousand dollars to get their data back.

    • Suzanne

      You’re absolutely right – hard drives go bad.
      All of them do – eventually. Normally I have two backups, and my original info … but due to the fact I was moving data around and consolidating stuff, I totally blew it. (And I’m paying for it now!)

      I’m very interested in what you do and your business.
      Would you ever be interested in writing a post about it to help inform my readers?
      I bet a lot of people could benefit from your expertise.
      You would, of course, be welcome to get a free plug for your business out of it too.

      : )

      • Aunt Baaa

        Absolutely! I am so sorry that this has happened to you, but there might be a few things you could try before being plunged into poverty by DriveSavers.

        I sent you an email earlier. Let me know.

  2. Diane

    My daddy always said, ‘you get what you pay for’. I’m sorry you didn’t spend the additional money and get a Drobo. BUT, it could have failed you at some point as well. I don’t think there is a perfect technology out there. Sorry for your situation; I know that photos are your livelihood so this totally has to suck for you.

    • Suzanne

      There is no perfect technology.
      I think data storage is going to be a HUGE industry in coming years.
      There is so much room for improvement … we just aren’t completely there yet.

      Drobos have built in redundancy so even if a disk goes bad, you’re usually not shit out of luck. For instance, the Drobo I bought a few months back has five drives. The same data is stored on multiple drives so it’s “safe” when one goes out. The LaCie had NO built in redundancy. It’s completely my fault for not going with the better/safer system.


  3. Denise

    I lost many many photos from a period of time that was so important to me. I contacted a drive recovery company that has a great reputation in the Bay Area. The cost estimate was at least a few thousand dollars….if it was even possible. It makes me sick to have lost those files.

  4. Suzanne

    Data recovery is prohibitively expensive for most people.
    Business have to bite the bullet and pay it.
    As it turns out, my data looks to be recoverable.
    It’s going to cost a fortune though …. and the very thought of the cost is killing me.

  5. Jane

    This makes me feel sick to my stomach. I lost a lot of pics of my trip to the Outer Banks because of back up problems. I can’t imagine losing so many of your professional photographs. I hope you can get them back. Good luck with it. I’ll never buy anything from LaCie!

    • Suzanne

      I’m sorry about your photos.
      Personal photos are more painful to lose than professional ones, I think!

  6. Corbin Elliott

    WOW . that is bad … but if all that is bad is a power supply … that can be “jury-rigged” for lack of better words.. to get the data off… should not have to send out for Data Savers.. if the drives are still good as well as the raid controller… and if they are standard sata drives and in a mirror configuration your local best buy has sata to usb converters … all a mirror does is clone .. so one bare drive could be copied back to the Drobo… Just my 2 cents.


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