Lost Photos: 5 Gut Wrenching Stories

Lost Photos: 5 Gut Wrenching Stories

Today is World Backup Day, a brand new holiday that the folks at Hallmark haven’t yet started to profit from (to my knowledge). Joking aside, World Backup Day was designed as a reminder to back up your important files. So, its a smart move to pause for a moment during your busy daily routine and realize the very real potential to lose photos in an instant, for any variety of reasons, and do something about it.

You’ll find the web simply littered with gut wrenching stories. Here are a few I’ve seen just to help reinforce the fact that everyone needs a smart digital asset management strategy, from amateurs to the largest photo businesses. The moment when you get a little bit lax is the moment something like this could happen to you.






No doubt we all know someone who has suffered lost photos due to one reason or another, whether human error or catastrophe. (Sidenote: Amid these stories of doom and gloom, I also found a heart warming one worth sharing. Looks like a group of students in Japan have organized an effort to recover photo albums in amid the earthquake rubble, and return them to their owners.)

The reality is, backing up your photos isn’t a fun way to spend your time, could be tedious, and isn’t directly linked to generating more money, so the little procrastination gremlins tend to sneak up on all of us and get in the way of being smart about how we manage our archives. Then, when disaster does strike, the value lost is frighteningly apparent (in terms of either memories or actual revenue lost from future image use). The cloud storage service Mozy recently did a survey that found millions of British residents – 33% – lose photos every year due to computer failure. Recent data states that new hard drives fail at a 3% rate, and that failure rate increases as they age. The point: no single method is foolproof and the smartest strategies involve multiple backups.

We’re doing our own little World Backup Day celebration by discounting our most popular storage add-ons by up to 50%. We’ve seen plenty of “saved by PhotoShelter” stories over the years – its nice to hear when our photographers are able to complete a job thanks to having their archive backed up and accessible from anywhere thanks to PhotoShelter. We do a few insane storage offers throughout the year – it makes sense to use this holiday to help you get more value by adding more photos to your PhotoShelter account. (This offer is for PhotoShelter members only – a base subscription to PhotoShelter is required.)

We’d love to hear more stories – both good and bad – to help encourage photographers to get their act together and get backed up. Add yours below.

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Scott Thompson at 1:40 pm

    Many years back, my PC froze and I hadn’t backed up my data to my external hard drive in quite some time. I thought I had lost countless hours of scanning and retouching work. While my computer was in the shop, I couldn’t sleep at night, literally. Fortunately, they were able to retrieve my data but my computer was toast and it took a long time getting the new computer set up. Now I have a solid backup plan. So when my MacBook Pro’s hard drive fried about a year ago, I slept with a smile on my face. I knew all my best photos were backed up on Photoshelter, all of my data was backed up on external hard drives and to crashplan.com. But what really saved me was a recent Mac Time Machine back up. Thanks to a clean Time Machine restoration of my computer after the drive was replaced at no charge, I was back up and running in a couple days. However I still can’t convince my in-laws to back up their laptop…

  2. Chris Owyoung at 3:23 pm

    I had an external drive that died taking about 350GB of photos with it – RAW, JPEG, retouched PSDs, everything. The head crashed into the platters so nothing was recoverable. That’s right about the time I bought a Drobo and decided to join PhotoShelter. By far the worst part about hard drive failure is how it keeps coming back to haunt you. Every few months a client, magazine or newspaper will call asking for images that were on that drive. At that point, I’m not sure what’s worse, the painful reminder or the lost revenue.

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