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Clean Slate

“Two is one and one is none” – Navy SEAL training slogan

In my other life, I work with data.  Lots and lots of data.  All of it is what’s called “mission critical”.  In other words, if any of it gets lost or damaged the boss will have my guts for garters, as the old saying goes.  So, bearing that in mind, you’d think I’d know better than to have a single copy of my photos.  Yeah, you’d think that, wouldn’t you?
In the world of data and backups, nothing is more true than that oft-quoted Navy SEAL slogan “two is one and one is none”.  And, nothing is more true.  Tuesday night, I was reminded of that the hardest way possible; a crashed drive.

For five years, I have shot photos.  In fact, I shot somewhere in excess of 18,000 photos over the course of those five years.  Sure, not all of them were “keepers”, at least in the sense that I may have only chosen to share one out of every five or ten I actually took, but, still, that’s a lot of data that’s gone up in a puff of smoke.  Or, in this case, the horrifying clicking of a bad hard drive.
This all started when the hard drive on my laptop, which I use to process most of my photos, started getting full.  I got an IOMega Two Terabyte Network Attached Storage device, hooked it up to my network and moved all my photos there.  And, it worked great.  I got all my data up there and updated my Lightroom catalog with the new location and everything was great for a couple years.  I kept meaning to get a second NAS drive to back up the first one to, but, well, I never quite got around to it.
What I did get was a Pogoplug, which is a pretty nifty device.  It lets me connect up to four USB drives, of any kind, and share them on a network.  Basically, it works like Dropbox, once you install the companion software.  So far, it’s been working great!  And, if the Pogoplug device fails for some reason, I can just plug the USB drive directly into my PC until I get a replacement Pogoplug.  Right now, I’ve got two one terabyte drives hooked up to it, and have one set to mirror to the other, which is like creating an automagic backup every time I update the main drive.  Sadly, I was about to copy my photos to that system on Tuesday when something was “suddenly” wrong with my old IOMega NAS.  The drive, it seems, had finally gone bad.  It happens.  I mean, eventually, a hard drive will stop spinning.  And, I have to admit, this one has been running for literally years.

It’s not a total loss for me, I suppose, since I have most of the best shots uploaded to my Flickr photostream.  But, still, that’s only about 4,000 of those 18,000 originals and not having all those originals makes my heart clench just a little.  I’m going to get a quote on data restoration for that drive, but if it’s very expensive, I probably won’t pay the money for it.  If I were a professional photographer, I would have to pay the money to get my photos back, but I’m not.
And, really, I should have known better.  As I have told people so often, if  you only have one copy of your data, whatever it is, then you don’t have a backup.  You only have a backup if you can delete one copy and know that a second one will be there to replaces it.  So, going forward, I’m going to get two more drives, that I can mirror together via that Pogoplug and start shooting again.
Rather than look at it as a disastrous loss, I’m going to look at it as wiping the slate clean.  I get to leave off the old baggage of my past work and go forward, creating something new and, hopefully, beautiful.

But, let my mistake serve as a warning to all you photographers out there; one copy of your work on an external drive is NOT a backup!
“Two is one and one is none”!


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