| Written by Ronnie |
Allow me to share a story with you. And let me warn you now that it gets bad before it gets better.
There are some things in life which you think will never happen to you. But guess what? They do.
Up until recently, I stored ten years worth of personal photo and home movie files on an external storage device called Drobo. That Drobo held my only copy of all those files.
That's right, I had no backup.
I'd always intended to do something about it, but I simply never got around to it. If there's one lesson that I've learnt from my debacle, it's this: Laziness gets you nowhere.
When my tech-savvy friends Alistair and Patricia visited us earlier this year, we got to talking about backups (as you do), and I confessed that my Drobo held ten years worth of files and that I had no backup of it. Alarm bells started to ring and we collectively decided that I needed to do something about it. Pronto.
We agreed that I needed at least one offsite copy of the files and that, ideally, I would have another copy on the cloud somewhere. They put me onto CrashPlan and G-Drive. As soon as I was at my desk later that evening, I started Googling like mad and came up with a plan of action.
My Drobo had been playing up for some time, and I knew I couldn't risk leaving my only soft copy of all our family memories on the device any longer. If anything happened to those files - I would be utterly gutted.
I did extensive research online, and I came to the conclusion that it was time to move on from the Drobo (especially after reading this post by Scott Kelby). I needed to explore other options. My first point of call was the Apple Store. I was after something that could hold up to 8TB to replace the Drobo itself and then something else that could store up to 4TB of data to backup the 8TB (I knew that I had less than 4TB data on the Drobo). Based on the products I liked on the Apple Store, I Googled every one and read all the online reviews.
Here's the thing with reviews and hard drives. There are always going to be bad reviews. No storage brand/product is 100% reliable. There is no such thing as an invincible external drive. The trick is to weigh up the good reviews and the bad reviews and go with the ones where there are (hopefully) way more good ones than bad ones.
In the end, I went with this 8TB G-Raid drive and this 4TB Western Digital drive. It wasn't cheap, but for the sake of rescuing my data and ensuring their future integrity, I thought it would be worth it. My plan was to copy my files from the Drobo to the G-Raid, and then make another copy onto the Western Digital. I knew that the entire process would take days, perhaps up to an entire week, so I psyched myself up to be patient.
I needn't have bothered because my Drobo would not mount.
Cue panic and tears. In a massive and dramatic sort of way.
All I could find online were similar reports of Drobo not mounting and people losing their data.
The only glimmer of hope I had was some guy saying that he was able to rescue his data after cloning the Drobo. Cloning? Huh? What? This sounded way out of my league.
I decided to hand it over to the experts, because I knew that the more I tried fiddling with the Drobo myself, the less chance there was of recovering the data.
I tracked down the guys at Data Detect. Their website said they had experience with Drobos. I chatted to Ernie online and gave him an overview of my situation. He seemed confident they could do something about it.
The next day, we dropped off the Drobo, along with the G-Raid and the Western Digital. My instructions: Recover my data onto the G-Raid, and make an extra copy onto the Western Digital. I figured that this would kill two birds with one stone. The extra copy cost only an additional $75 but would save me at least a week (or more) of time.
I knew the data recovery would cost us at least $2,000 but, heck, memories are priceless. Literally. After all, we're talking about all the photos and videos from our dating days all the way through to the end of 2012. Most of the boys' childhood memories were on that drive.
You will never guess how long the entire process ended up taking.
Two and a half months.
I had no problems with the time it took; I was only concerned with the safety of the data. But the fact that it took two and a half months illustrates one thing to me: Data recovery is no amateur business. And man, prevention is infinitely better than the drama that we went through.
As of this week, our media files are safe on our G-Raid and an extra copy resides on the Western Digital, which is now at my parents' house. I am also in the process of making another copy to the cloud using Crashplan. I'm not even going to bother trying to guess how long that's going to take.
And in case you're still in any doubt, the moral of the story is this: Backup your external drives.
Don't let them fall under the radar.
Audit your current storage system.
Ask yourself, "If this hard drive dies on me today, what will I do tomorrow?"
Do you have any similar horror stories to share? Feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
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I talk all about backups, archiving, and more in my online class, Photo Organisation with Lightroom. Registrations close Monday 27 October 2014, so make sure you sign up this week if you're interested in learning how to make the most of Lightroom for organising your photo files and for all your memory keeping projects.