How I Nearly Lost 8 Years Worth of Photos

So this shit happened to me last month. After procrastinating on finding a cloud backup solution after my previous died, after procrastinating on getting a replacement storage device for my aging external hard drive, the inevitable eventually happened; my hard drive died on me, along with about 8 years worth of photos. Family photos, company event photos, concert photos, holiday photos and my old freelance work all became inaccessible in the blink of an eye. The obvious option was to send it for recovery. So…..

Not really though, but close enough. All in all about 3/4 of my take home monthly pay was spent for recovery and purchasing of my replacement storage.

The story

So this happened one fine night when I decided I wanted to do a backup of that hard drive. I’ve been meaning to do a backup of the drive for a while, but you know… procrastination took over as usual. Anyway, I got my PC prepped up for the backup, except for one issue… my drive was refusing to be detected, both in Disk Management and Device Manager. No weird sounds from the hard disk, so OK, maybe it could be the USB port having issues, so I plugged it into another PC. Still no luck. Alright, perhaps the cable is faulty. Grabbed another cable and plugged it in – no joy as well. OK, chances are the hard disk enclosure is faulty, I’ll just bring it into the office the next day and test the hard drive directly

Next day in the office. Plucked out the hard drive from the enclosure and plugged it into our office’s hard drive reader – drive is still refusing to show up in disk management. OK I’m well screwed. The internals didn’t seem to be faulty, so we figured the PCB might be faulty, so I ordered one off eBay. Fast forward 2 weeks and the new PCB arrived. No luck as well. I’m starting to freak out a bit right about now. Refusing to swap the BIOS chip with my original PCB in case I screw it up beyond repair, the painful decision to start looking for a recovery center was made.

The recovery

There are plenty of recovery services in Singapore, the tricky part is finding one that is trustworthy and affordable; as my colleague used to emphasize, one previous recovery company charged us $3000 for a recovery.. except that they could not open any files despite being able to see them, which meant the recovery was basically useless, and our company still had to pay them for this useless recovery.

Anyway, searching around, I eventually settled upon Accplus Recovery, which had pretty great reviews and seemed pretty affordable according to some people online., so I decided to pay them a visit. It’s a pretty unassuming place located among a bunch of shophouses in the Bukit Ho Swee estate, run by a friendly old uncle named Louis, who is basically the one-man recovery team of the company. Much respect to him, on first entry to his office it seemed like he had a lot of stuff going on that would be tough to handle for a single person of his age. Anyway, he took over the hard disk, did the diagnosis in front of me, result was a firmware corruption. Ugh. Recovery cost would be $1200. Double ugh. Did it anyway as 8 years worth of photos is worth more than the price I’m paying for recovery, and I don’t believe I can get it for a lower price if i go for the so-called big name recovery centers. Repair time was about 2 weeks, and exactly 2 weeks later I received the fantastic news that all my data was recovered. WOOHOO!!

The Replacement

So now that my data is recovered but my old hard drive is more or less kaput by now, I had to find a replacement storage for all my photos. I’ve been meaning to get a NAS for the better part of a year now due to the fact I can configure RAID volumes with it, meaning with a 2 disk NAS I can configure it as a RAID 1 volume where I have the capacity of a single disk, but my data is still accessible if one disk fails. The trusted brand at my company seems to be Synology; we’ve sold quite a number of Synology products, so I settled for a DS218, just a nice basic NAS for simple home use, although I’ve yet to test how efficient it is running Lightroom with my photos stored in the network over wifi. I’m now currently looking for cloud backup solutions in case my house ever burns down and I lose all my data permanently.

So yeah, lesson learnt – when it comes to important stuff never procrastinate, it’ll never end nicely. I can’t believe my first post of the year had to be about this sort of thing.

Anyway, upcoming stuff, I’m currently typing this in KL where I just attended a free concert, where I managed to shoot AKB48, one of the biggest idol groups in Japan and easily the biggest name I’ve ever shot so far, bunch of photos coming soon. Meanwhile, in October I’m headed to Japan again, this time to the Tohoku region in the north for an epic 17 day trip. Yea I know, it’s Japan again, but hey, I’m dead set on visiting different areas every time now so at least I’m not seeing the same stuff over again.

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