I never wanted to write this down, but today I learned that my hard drive with a large selection of my photographs can not be recovered. The surfaces of the disks were too much damaged. It feels as a real disappointment to me. First of course how silly I was to not keep track of my backups (hectic family life and my broken back). Secondly I regret it that I took my hard drive with my images to a club presentation. The loss is significant and I lost some of my best moments.
It is however also a moment to make changes. I completely changed my backup strategy which is now integrated in my digital workflow. I know use two external G-Technology G-DRIVE mini 500GB. When I ingest photographs from a card in Lightroom I move them to one of these drives. I also move all unedited images to a DVD. On my hard drive I keep the following folder structure: there is an Edit, Export, and RAW folder. Within each folder I keep the structure of year and then months. Within Lightroom I decide which images to pick or reject. The rejected images will be removed from my drive (I still have the originals on the DVD). The picked images are moved to the edit folder. That way I can keep my catalog in Lightroom slim. Additionally I use a smaller external drive where I keep all my export images. I take this drive with me once a week and save it somewhere else.
The second G-Tech Drive will be synchronized once or twice a week depending on the amount of changes. All images I print or post on the web are saved in the Export folder. In Lightroom I also keep track of these exports. Besides that my exports are on both my external drives I also write them to a DVD and upload them to the free Microsoft 25 GB cloud storage, Skydrive. I use SDExplorer to access my Skydrive location from within Explorer instead of the web interface. My friend gave my a great suggestion to upload all exports as full size jpegs to flickr too.
So please people, make sure you backup your precious photographs as good as possible. Use more then one external drives and at least keep one outside your own location.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma
Just for the clarification. My hard drive was sent to a specialized data recovery company. They investigated the drive in order to know whether data can be recovered. In fact, they had to take it a part. When the drive felt on the floor it was powered with spinning disks. Usually that is the worst case scenario for physical hard drive failure. As a result the disks of the drive where too much damaged and data recovery was not possible.