Backup strategies and recovering from hard drive failure

It’s not if, but when your C: drive will fail   by Paul Schmitt

The day before I left for Death Valley for a Canon Live Learning program, I awakened my desktop computer to be greeted by the message “Boot menu unavailable” and “repair failed”.    A quick call to my computer tech confirmed the obvious; my two year old solid state C: drive had failed in arguably the most critical sectors.   The idea of returning home with five days worth of new images to process and no high-end computer to begin processing with was, well, a source of discomfort.  The trip went smoothly and flights were all on time, so early the day after my return I packed up the computer and headed to PC Solutions in Elmira.  Jason quickly confirmed the situation and ordered a new 500 GB SSD from a supplier who usually gets packages to him the next day.  He confirmed the next morning that he had the SSD and hoped to have the PC to me that day.  At 5 pm, I picked up the PC.  The rescue drive worked and only my BackBlaze backup had to be reinstalled.  Sweet, mostly.

Rule 1: Make a rescue disk

Looking over my documents and photo files, I could see that some recent files were missing.  After reinstalling the link to BackBlaze (off-site backup), I went into their controls and learned how to “inherit” the backups I had created beginning in October 2017.  I located most of my missing files there.   The number of files was not very large, so I had BackBlaze create a ZIP repair file which arrived by email in less than an hour.  I only had to drag the restored files into their correct locations.  Still, a few items were missing, like the last three CNP newsletters.   I also run SyncToy (a PC-only utility) weekly  to make copies of all my documents and, separately, of photo files.  They are in a large 4TB internal drive.  I searched and found the newsletters there.

Rule 2: Have 3 copies, 2 at home, 1 off-site

Lightroom was a little different.   I had all the images, but the catalog had lost track of most beginning around November 3, 2017.  I found them in File Explorer. They were  sitting in the correct folder, but the catalog has lost the location.  How to get them displaying in Lightroom?  My approach may not have been elegant, but it has worked.  I started in LR Library and did an IMPORT action.  The dialog comes up with a complete directory of the computer, and I went to the folder name I had located in File Explorer, selected the folder and set the import location to the correct location in the right hand menu.  This restored the catalog integrity.  The only hitch in the process is that I have not yet recovered the virtual images and associated editing steps used.  Since all of those edited images have been exported to my catalogs portion containing edited images, it is not at this point a critical issue. I have the original plus a finished copy exported  at maximum resolution.  I will troll Adobe FAQs for ideas to revive the virtual images.

Rule 3: Next make a new backups

BackBlaze has already updated my off-site backup. I am presently running a new set in SyncToy now.  Now I can begin to write my blog on the Death Valley trip.  Canon put on the best workshop I have ever had.  I got home safely, and Jason came through admirably.   I am feeling good.

Are you ready for the “when”?