WARNING: Back-Up Your Hard Drives!

Published On August 22, 2011 | By Mike Carroll | Warning - Back-Up Your Stuff

The drive that failed — an Iomega 1 Tb that I bought only a year ago. I have other drives that I’ve had for years that are still perfect, so age doesn’t matter. And I’ve got a matching Iomega 1 Tb that’s a champ, so you never can tell. I don’t hold anything against Iomega for this — it’s a fact of life that drives won’t last forever.

I’m writing this with a heavy heart and a strong word of warning to everyone who stores video on hard drives — always back it up!

I’ve been loading all of my news stories onto a drive that I purchased just a year ago. I hadn’t turned it on in a few weeks and then when I went to add some new stories it would show up one minute, then disappear the next. I should have recognized this, I’ve been through this before — the tell-tale signs of a hard drive on the outs. Once I realized what was happening it was too late. I lost a lot of my stories. Many I’d posted to Youtube. I’ve managed to get some many of them back through downloading back off of Youtube, but at greatly reduced picture quality. When the video you upload is 500 Mb and the video you’re able to download is 5 or 10 Mb, that’ a lot of picture loss. Others are just gone.

I was just about to start a mirror file when this happened. To be honest, I’ve been doing some feverish backing up of drives over the past few weeks and somehow this one file that had all of my news video library had slipped through. Fortunately, a month ago I’d discovered a box of tapes that I thought were lost and have been in the process of transferring them to digital files. It was when I went to add these to the Iomega drive that failed that I discovered my problem, so I haven’t lost any of these.

Finally, a few of my stories on Youtube that have been linked to pages on this site have been lost. I shall be going through the process of restoring them, but it may take a few weeks.

These are just a few of the active hard drives on and around my work area. They vary from 400 Gigabytes to 2 Terabytes.

The two drives on the left, on the bottom is a 1 Tb Iomega and above it is the shell of the 1 Tb Iomega that failed and now houses an Hitachi 2 TB drive. In the middle are two of my original LaCie 400 Gb drives, which I paid almost $300 each originally. Now I could get the equivilent for $60. On the far left is a LaCie 1 TB drive, original retail value of $1,000, which I picked up on sale for the great deal of $600. What will the equvalent of all this stuff be going for in two years?

A Western Digital 2 TB drive on which I back-up three other drives.

Another Western Digital 1 Tb drive on the desktop.

And there are a few drives that I use that aren’t pictured here.

And these are some of my back-up drives:

Four drives of various sizes, from 500 Gb to 1.5 Tb, that I keep in a closet shelf in a separate building from my office. It’s no use to keep your back-ups in the same place — what if there’s a fire?

The original drives that hold all the footage from my first feature film “Year” — 1.5 Tb with 140 hours of mini-DV footage and over 5,000 different elements of shots, sounds, etcl. All of this is backed up on a single drive in the closet.

So please — don’t rely on just one drive to store your memories and valuables. And make double sure that all of your files are backed up and nothing has slipped through.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

3 Responses to WARNING: Back-Up Your Hard Drives!

  1. Deanne Rotta says:

    Oh Mike I am so sorry this happened. This is my worst nightmare and why I was so relieved to get hooked up to the Carbon Copy Cloner recently.

  2. Carl says:

    Chris Fenwick and I were just talking about this this morning while recording the next episode of the Digital Convergence podcast. One thing I’ve notice from your photos is that your hard drives are sitting on the same surface and next to speakers. That’s a potentially dangerous setup. Please don’t ask me how I know 🙂

    As for the failed hard drive, do you still have it? Did you take the drive out of the enclosure and try mounting it in something like the Thermaltake – an external USB mount for bare OEM drives? These are available at Best Buy for about $60 (maybe less on Amazon). I just “recovered” 5 failed HD’s that I’ve lost in the last year. In every case the bare metal drive was fine – it was the enclosure power supply / interface that failed.

    Thanks for your kind comments about the David duChemin podcast.

  3. Mike says:

    I did test the drive, as well as the enclosure it came from. It was an Iomega 1Tb external firewire drive. It was on a shelf about five or six feet away from where I work at the iMac. When it finally went I brought the drive over to me and put my ear to it. Once I heard the intermittent click-clacking of the drive I knew it was the drive going.

    I disassembled the box and removed the hard drive and put it into two other external enclosures and couldn’t get it to be recognized. Then I put two other external drives into the Iomega box and they were both recognized, so I knew it wasn’t the power supply.

    I tried the drive finally on all three external enclosures, including the Iomega box, on a different computer and it still didn’t show up on the computer. I tried one of the other hard drives and it showed up.

    So I could only conclude that this drive had expired. I’ve since tossed it in the recycled bin, had a moment of silence, and let it go.

    Thanks for the note of concern. I really appreciate it. And for checking out my site.

    I just downloaded the new podcast and can’t wait to hear it.

    By the way, I’ve listened to the David duChemin podcast again and pre-ordered his next book. His comments about being “clientless” and surviving were very inspiring. They’ve had my mind clicking — and I owe it to you to thank for it.

    Best- MIKE

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