hoping for a blue sky

by Stormfish July. 09, 2007 6534 views

my PC hard disk crashed.

whole system wouldn't start up anymore.
500 GB of data, mainly pictures, movies, music files of my band have not been accessible since sunday.
i have no virus, i didn't install anything, i didn't even DO anything with the machine - it just gave me the blue screen finger.

with a disk rescue program, i was finally able to access the files, but they have to be recovered bit by bit, sector by sector. i'm right now spending hours in front of the screen trying to sort out what makes sense to be saved, what can be left behind.

i found out that on my whole hard drive there are about 500'000 files. most of which are some temp or system files, drivers, programs, dll data, you name it, i have it.

so the big issue is to find those which are really meaningful to me and justify the effort to save them.

which brings me to problem i want you all to warn about, and it's not the obvious: make backups of your stuff, always keep a safety copy, bladibladibla. if you haven't learned THAT lesson yet, you probably work with computers at all.

no, what i mean is this: people, we are DROWNING IN DATA! since we have digital photography, we keep clicking and clicking and storing and storing… and we end up with a billion pictures piled up, a wide ocean of files and data and lots of rubbish floating in it. in fact, our computers are stuffed with material that most of us don't have any control over anymore. and we usually ignore this problem, since somehow we forget about all the layers of old memory stuff we have left behind, piling up new stuff every moment of our lifes. who cares?

the available disk space gets cheaper and cheaper, bigger and bigger, faster and faster. 10 years ago, i was happy to have a 2 giga byte hard drive (equivalent to saving the encyclopedia britannica about 40 times, if you only save the text) and thought i'd never fill it… now i'm having available in total about 1.2 tera byte. i have been told this is under average for a swiss standard computer owner.

only when the card house crashes, we suddenly realize how much there is… and how unsuitable the tools we have for sifting, sorting, categorizing, structuring, updating, maintaining the relevance of all this data. because all of this needs planning, needs adapting, needs time to manage.

the main problem is the imbalance between the strenuous effort it is to sort, choose, structure our stuff and the cheap'n'easy way to produce, copy, download, save all this data we have with our billions of pictures taken.

we're clicking away, and we don't spend a moment anymore to delete the excess, the stuff that is just “almost good” and ended not even being developed in former days, when it still was expensive to make every print of the film (although, the problem started there already, but at least this was physical media which could get lost/rot/could be thrown away… and since films cost money, we didn't click so many times in the first place).


i don't know.

maybe photoblog helps. if my hard disk's data doesn't come up anymore, all my stored photos are lost - except of those that i've published here. that's not necessarily the ones i consider being my best pics (i've published a lot of stuff just to illustrate the topic), but it's all that would be left.

not natural, but at least SOME principle of selection…

anyway, i'm off to rescue my data again - ttyl.

p.s. these three pictures were still on the memory chip of my camera. that's why i put them up here as a “memento mori” for what happened - maybe finally - to my photographic past.

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There are 16 comments , add yours!
Emme Tan 13 years, 3 months ago

i like the first 2 pics a lot!!!

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

thanks for clearing out that point !

i'm glad it's just me who seems to have the problem - probably due to my cultural background. also glad that there people like you who have the knowledge about all these technologies so they will never run into any cultural crisis with their tera bytes of data... i feel so ashamed that i am still underdeveloped after 20 years of working in IT technology to not have found your simple solution myself...

*slaps himself in the face*

well, that should teach me to shut up about this topic! instead, i will go to find me an purple-Xray-UHD-DCD-synchronous megagigakilo recorder with automatic backup function that will never crash and solve my backup issues forever.

all hail to the technology gods - we simple people are not supposed to know enough about the stuff we're using... that's what IT supporters are for! ;-)

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

@pattyb: i know... it got a bit out of hand... ;-)

i promise to make a VERY SHORT next entry....

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

@rmjannette: could we [b]really[/b] do that?

my vision of the future is much darker. i believe we gonna loose ALL of the pictures of our digital area, once we don't have the energy anymore to run the systems to access it.

in a couple of 100 years, archaeologist will think very little of our modern culture, because they won't find a lot left overs of it... but they will still stand in awe in front of the pyramids and read the books written on parchment 1000 years ago.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Roxanne 13 years, 3 months ago

yes none of this is archival is it? i guess we could all go back to using black and white film and printing platinum palladium prints in duplicate. and storing them in fire proof containers to be passed down from generation to generation.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Roxanne 13 years, 3 months ago

forgot to comment on your photos - the sillohuettes are amazing, graphic. love them.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

interesting discussion, this... turning into an essay here... :-)

just one thing to add:

to my knowledge, there is [b]no media at the moment that would be preferred in terms of safety and later reproducibility of computer data[/b], so it doesn't matter if you bet on your hard drives or on cd-roms or DVD-roms.

offline media like DVD-rom also isn't fail proof. it has to be thoroughly protected against scratches and color degradation, it is not updatable and therefore not really a solution for large quantity data like the media collection that just a normal amateur photographer like me has produced over the years.

so there really is no choice here... the problem lies, as you understand, so much deeper - in the [i]difference between the easiness to produce the data and the pain in managing it safely[/i].

furthermore, contrary to what CD/DVD producer promise, the [i]writeable disks are not proven to have a storage safety even under perfect conditions for longer then 10 years[/i]. meaning, you'd have to re-safe them on new media again and again, if you want to store them.

in fact, i have burned CD's in mint condition that are less old then 10 years which failed to be read after i had to replace my cd-burner/reader - simply because they are not accurately adjusted to the former models. :-(

from knowledge management i know that the only real safe storage of information is redundancy. get your stuff copied in as many places as possible, and you might have 1 copy survive over the years. (think of the bible or other popular books - they "survive" because their content is everywhere, including our head).

so no matter what backup technology you use, the management problem data quantities like huge picture collections is growing alongside with the amount of data you collate - and the tools we have to manage these (structuring, updating, categorizing, even finding them) are less then adequate. basically, most people use the explorer or finder, only a few people use exif data or other categorizing database tools to manage their stuff.


because it takes lots of time, planning, consequent commenting etc. to get this done... and we have no automated processes in place here. we click-click-click and store-store-store... but we don't sort and delete and re-check and update.

that's why all our picture piles are just growing and growing... until they crash, like mine.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Roxanne 13 years, 3 months ago

oh this is troubling for sure. so so sorry! to comment only on the photo part (as my experience is here) I will say as a photographer editing has always been very important and time consuming part of the process and it is also very important to have the "will power" so to speak - to throw away your "bad or not so useable" digital photos. It is way too easy to save them all. And what for? They only take up precious space. No we did not do that nearly as much with film for all the reasons you mentioned. Cost was a factor for sure as well as the simple fact that we just didn't want to have piles and piles of un-useable photographs. It was never necessary somehow.
I do back myself up on an external hard drive that has become my friend. At this point I am still largely scanning my film into the computer and archiving it digitally - which is something cool for the film people. Yet another way to "back up" my originals. Is it necessary? Seems important to have digital files of the work now for various reasons. As for my digital photos - I force myself to edit, name, make folders and put away on my external drive. Your crash makes me think that I need to bak up my back up! Oh gooooodd where does it end? I will also say that too mauch data feels like clutter and ultimately all those unedited, unbacked up files give me a feeling of anxiety. Eidea check out this [url=http://www.chrisjordan.com/]proof we have toooo much stuff ![/url]

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Charles Stirton 13 years, 3 months ago

Eidea, I thought it was a bit quiet from you. I am backing up today. Looks like we both chose blue skies for a posting today. Morphic resonance?

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

@manowar3: the problem for me is not the lack of fail proof technology, mac or pc or whatever - the problem as described here is the [b]amount of data[/b] we so thoughtlessly and easily produce without having adequate tools, knowledge, strategies of managing these oceans of information, no matter if it's pictures, text or multimedia.

i'm sorry that i've not made this clearer in my entry - my poor luck with the hard disk failure was only an example to shed light on this data situation. i believe that THIS is the scary part about our so called information technology culture... we relentlessly rely on being able to manage (not to speak of understand) these vast amounts of collected data, while we actually drown in the processes involved in only securing this stuff, for example for the next generation.

sorry to hear your 2 TB loss - but you sure had backups... right? ;-)

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Neal Panton 13 years, 3 months ago

drowning in data!! at least you can save us. Great work found here.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

@manowar3: i'm telling you my backups are at least 1/2 year old, because i have that much stuff to backup (see pattyb's post, same problem). and yes, i AM seriously expecting my hardware to work, as long as i don't treat it badly - especially with windows, because i've made bad, VERY bad experiences with macs.

@blur911: my cam's chip is always filling up too quick with pictures... i'm used to take 100-200 on an event, then sort out the ones i wanna keep... still keeping too much, i guess.

@pattyb: try using DVD's for burning, new burners are pretty fast with them, and you'd only use 5 DVD's for the same amount of data. however, don't expect your files to be too save on them forever... i've had CD's burned that worked for years, then had them ly around for a year or so, changed computer hardware... and suddenly discovered i couldn't read the cd any more. storage is NEVER guaranteed on these self produced cd's... :-(

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Blur Vibes 13 years, 3 months ago

That sucks, retrieving data is a major pain. I know what you mean about keeping way too much crap we wouldn't have printed years ago.

I have gotten into the habit of not deleting pics off the camera until I have a disc backup as well as the hard drive copy.
Good luck.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Ian 13 years, 3 months ago

Great set

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Xserka 13 years, 3 months ago

I like it without clouds too.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
Stormfish 13 years, 3 months ago

as i said... backups are ONE thing... but having too much data to recover, another.

13 years, 3 months ago Edited
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