I have a pretty good system for keeping my digital files safe. All of RAW files are saved to the cloud as a last resort backup (the TIFFS are just too large). Locally, I have four backup copies of my files, including one which resides off-site and gets regular updates (when I remember). So, I have the bases covered. Most of it is automatic and requires little attention from me.
However . . .
. . . it does require that my image files are placed in the right folders, and on the right computer. That is my job, my only real job with archiving, and I fucked it up.
How? Well, during the September of Chuck when I lived in my car and cavorted around Wyoming for a month before moving to NYC, I put all of my new images on my laptop. My intention was, when I finally got access to my desktop computer, I would move all those files into the appropriate folders for full access and archiving. And that worked as planned. . . mostly. What did not happen as planned was that a week’s worth of images, all from a trip I did to Iowa for a workshop, disappeared. Vanished. Gone.
To make matters worse, I only noticed it last week, a full two months since I made those images. I tried recovery software (files were found by were not recoverable) and scoured every HD I could find. Option exhausted. I gave up.
There were a few photos I will miss, including one featured in my recent exhibition at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City and, ironically, purchased. But, since it took me so long to discover the files were missing, I am kinda frustrated but not devastated. We all need reminders to pay attention to details and to do things correctly. This was my wake up call.
Most, if not all of us, are going to lose images over the course of our careers. Whether it is from ineptitude (me!), equipment failure, or acts of god, lost files are inevitable. The best we can do is try and minimize the chances.
I recommend doing a check of your archiving process every few months. Make sure it is working as you want and creating multiple backups in a timely manner. Include a system for storing images off-site, be in the cloud or a physical location nearby, or both. Above all, never assume things will be fine. Always double check. Because someday, somewhere, somehow, something is going to go wrong.
Don’t be like Chuck.