Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Flirting With Disaster

The main window of my Lightroom archive. 

I lost a hard drive recently. The 4 terabyte drive that holds my recent work stopped powering up. I'm pretty sure it's a problem related to the drive's internal power supply because I tried swapping out the power cables that came with the drive on nothing brought it back. I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to flaky hard drives. A drive that gives me problems is immediately taken out of service. My data is too important to me, I won't play Russian Roulette with a hard drive. 

There are two kinds of computer users. Those who have had hard drive fail. And those who will have a hard drive fail. Even before this episode I was in the former group. I've had four or five hard drives fail through the years. The remarkable thing about is that this was the first hard drive failure I've had in years, since moving to Thailand. 

Because I've had experience with hard drive failures, I am absolutely maniacal about backing up my data. My backups are an exact duplicate of my data drives. The last thing I do when I finish a daily Lightroom session is copy the folders holding my photos over to the backup drives. The backup drives are organized exactly the same way my data drives are organized. Theoretically, I could use the backup drive as my data drive, but then it would no longer be a backup. 

Each year's work goes on to a back up drive. I have backups for 2012, 2013, 2014 etc. The LaCie drive that failed held my 2015 - 2017 work. 

When we were living in the US, I kept three copies of my data drives. One in our home, one in a fire safe in our home, and one in a safe deposit box at our bank. The drive in the bank's safe deposit box got updated every month or so, I kept it in our fire safe when it wasn't in the bank safe deposit box. 

We don't have a bank safe deposit box in Bangkok, so I keep two copies of my drives in our apartment. That's a failure point I worry about all the time. My photo archive data drives have all of my photos. I also keep a much smaller selection of processed files in my PhotoShelter archive. That's my backup of last resort. 

A lot of people use "cloud" backup, like Crashplan. If we lived in the US, I would consider something like Crashplan, or backup all my raw files to my PhotoShelter archive. One of the challenges of living in Thailand is that internet speeds here are much slower than they were in the US and I'm not comfortable backing up to the cloud from Thailand. 

Because I'm so obsessive about backing up my data, when my hard drive failed I didn't throw up my arms in despair. I went to a local electronics mall, bought a new 4tb drive, brought it home, and reformatted it (it came formatted for a Windows computer and I use Macs). 

Once the drive was reformatted, I plugged in my 2015 backups and copied the files over to the new drive. That took about 10 hours. I launched Lightroom, which didn't "see" the new drive. I pointed LR to the new drive and connected with my archive. 

When that process was finished, I plugged in my 2016 backup and repeated the process. Then I plugged in the 2017 backup and repeated the process again. 

The whole ordeal took about 24 hours, but it was spread over three days. I didn't lose any photos, more than anything it was an inconvenience. The lesson to be learned here is backup your work. And when you've backed it up, back it up again. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.