The Photographer’s Lab

Digital photography has its pros and cons.  There are many pros, and they will be discussed often in this blog.  Handling the digital files after they’ve been captured falls into both pros and cons.   In the days of film, most color photographers would send their film off to the lab, and get back slides, negatives and prints.  A good lab made sure the images were well printed, and the photographer was able to focus on making good images.  The lab made sure the negatives were properly developed, cut, stored and printed.  Negative and slides did not have to be backed up in case of hard drive failure.  Sure, some photographer had the labs make duplicates before shipping the slides off to be published, and many photographers kept their important negatives and slides in fire proof safes.

With digital photography, the photographer is now the lab.  The photographer is responsible for downloading, converting, processing, storing, backing up and preparing the files to be printed either at home or at a lab.  This has it pros and cons.  The pros are that the photographer ultimately has more control over the process.  The disadvantage is that now the photographer must take more control over the process, and there are many important steps in this process.  One important step is organizing, storing and backing up digital files.

I’m writing about this to explain why there has been a shortage of post on this blog.  I’ve been dealing with some data issues, and am focusing on fixing the problems.  Here’s a brief synopsis of my ordeal for the last few weeks.  All of my images are stored on two internal SATA hard drives. These hard drives are set up in a mirrored raid. A mirrored raid is supposed to protect the files in case of hard drive failure by creating an exact copy of a file on two different hard drives.  Hard drive failure is inevitable, hard drives fail. Period. I know that from experience, anyone who has worked on computers for any amount of time will tell you the same thing.  Unfortunately, in my case, both drives in the raid appear to have failed at approximately the same time.  Not good.

So, in the two weeks since I’ve been home, I’ve been trying to see if I could get the data off of one of drives in my Raid.  Neither drive will mount, so I’ve not been able to recover the files.  I have now sent them off to Seagate for data recovery.   Fortunately, most of the files are somewhere else, on an assortment of external drives and dvds. Rebuilding the directory will be tedious, so I’m waiting to see if the data is recoverable, before I start that process.

I’m writing all of this, because I intend for this to be an educational blog.  So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in the process:

  • Don’t create a raid with two drives made by the same manufacturer at the same time.  (I actually had 3 drives fail.  All 3 were made by Seagate, all 3 were purchased from the same place at the same time.)
  • About once a year, swap out one drive in the raid, and rebuild the raid.
  • Be very diligent about redundancy of files.  About 2 months before this happened, I had backed up about 2/3 of my raid onto an external drive, but didn’t finish the task for various reasons.  I was putting off some of that until I got back from Brazil… procrastination hurts.

Since this blog is about travel photography, I will give a little insight as to how I handle data backup while on the road.  Images are downloaded to my computer and imported in Lightroom, so that I can keyword the location information.  I then back up the laptop every night.  I love the Mercury On the Go by OWC.  I’ve had a few of them, and have had no problems with them.  They have multiple options for connecting to the computer, and are bus powered, so I don’t need another power cord.    I use the program SuperDuper to create an automatic backup, so that I don’t have to remember to set it up.  Then when I get home, all of my files are on the external drive, and it’s easy to plug that into my main computer and transfer them to my storage drives.

While I’m anxiously awaiting news from Seatgate, I’ve been learning about the updates to Lightroom, and have downloaded Lightroom 4.  I’ve just started the process of copying the images from Brazil onto my main computer and have started a new catalog in Lightroom.  I’m loving many of the new features in Lighroom, which means I’ll be posting images soon!

 

7/28/12 Update:   I sent my hard drives off to Seagate Recovery Services.  Everyone that I talked to at Seagate was very helpful.  They get an A for customer service.  They were able to recover most of the data on my drives.  Since I had 3 drives fail at the same time, I asked if they could give me any discount on the price of data recovery.  They did give me 20% off, and expedited my recovery services.  The drives were also under warranty, so all three drives have now been replaced.  They recommended that I run drive tests on a regular basis.  If I had, I would have known that one drive failed about two months before the other one.  So, I’ve now purchased Drive Genius, and am running it on a regular schedule.

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About emilynaff

Photographer, Traveler, Teacher
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