Three years ago on Christmas Eve my backup external hard drive failed within days of my internal hard drive failing. It was very scary stuff, I almost lost my whole career – around 8 terabytes of photographs. It cost me about £1500.00 to retrieve it all and ever since I have been extremely careful with my backup scheduling and with formatting memory cards properly.
One thing I talk more about than anything else to students and fellow photographers is the importance of backing up your hard drive and how to handle your memory cards. I think I have said once or twice that you haven’t become serious photographer until you’ve lost your photos on a memory card or had your hard drive fail.
Losing data happens to just about everyone. And once it has happened to you it rarely happens again. With memory cards, particularly with the more expensive ones you can easily install photo-rescue software that usually will locate and restore pictures that get lost on a memory card, and if you back up your hard drive regularly you won’t loose everything.
1. Always carry spare memory cards. If one starts giving you trouble, put it in your pocket, away from the other cards, and use another one. Once you’ve transferred the data from the dodgy card to your pc throw the card away. In my experience memory cards that start giving you problems can’t be trusted in the future.
2. Once you have transferred your images to your pc and backed them up format the card.
3. Blank memory cards that act up should be reformatted in your camera. (Use the camera’s menus. Look for “format.”) Then try them again. If they still give you trouble throw them away, memory is cheap enough these days to buy a new card.
3. Always reformat your memory cards before using them again. Don’t just erase your pictures. Continual erasing is the main reason memory cards go bad. Reformatting gives them a clean start.
4. Never allow any software of any kind to erase photos as they are transferred to your computer. Keep the pictures on the memory card until you have seen all of them on your computer.
5. Don’t do ANYTHING to the bad card. Don’t try to read it again from your camera and don’t try to store another photo on it. You’ll need to put the bad card into your card reader – not from the camera, and run your photo-rescue software.
6. For all of our commercial work we use cards that are no larger than 2GB. The reason for this is that if the card fails or a camera is lost or stolen with a card in it I won’t loose all of my images. Buy 4 x 2GB cards rather than an 8GB card. Also keep the cards in the plastic covers they come with, grains of sand and fluff can ruin cards.
And buy an external hard drive that is larger than your internal hard drive, you’ll be surprised how much memory all that holiday video takes up!