The Price of Procrastination

I recently read a photographer’s post that she had lost all her photos when her hard-disk failed and didn’t do any backup. I knew then that I need to backup mine also, the last backup I did was in May 2013. Since then I took many photos, and used up 90% of my 2TB disc space. Last Saturday I went out and bought a hard drive backup, and only came home to find the blank black screen and the message that read hard-disk failure.

I called Dell and they said that they can come out and replace the hard-disk, and most likely I had lost all my data. I took it to Best Buy the next day to see if they can recover, and they couldn’t do it there. The technician said the ticking noise was too loud and they will have to send it off to a clean lab and it could cost anywhere from $250 to $1,600 plus. I couldn’t make up my mind at the time, and felt really bad that I wasn’t discipline enough to do a simple backup.

I called Dell back Sunday night, and they came out and replace my hard-disk on Tuesday. The customer service let me keep my old hard-disk after I explained my situation. I’m staring at my hard-disk right now, and can’t decide if I should send it off to recover my photos. I think deep down inside I knew I can’t put a price on my memories.


  1. Hi Nye,

    So sorry to hear that your hard disk is faulty and needed replacing. That’s a lot of money to replace it but hopefully it might be on the cheaper end. True that its hard to put a price on memories. This serves as a reminder for me to do the same with my photos. I upload some of them on Flickr as semi-large files, which helps keep them safe, unless Flickr shuts down, in which case I’ll be in a lot of trouble. Good luck with it. πŸ™‚

    • The online accounts are not safe, plus there’s only so much free space and you’ll end up having to pay annually fees, plus I don’t feel comfortable posting hi resolution photos online. I plan to have an external hard drive for backing-up, and it’s relative cheap these day. When this happened I feel like beating myself up for not backing up, the only good thing is that I don’t own anyone their photos. I did a funeral and wedding and gave those photos to the family. I just hope that this post is a reminder to those that don’t backup, having new computer is not an excuse for not backing up either because this computer was only 1.5 year old so there was no reason why I would think that it would crap out this fast, lesson learned.

  2. Interesting post! I’ve heard about this thru someone and had to come see.

    I’ve had many failures (80-90% recovered) that I now assume my data isn’t safe anymore. With so many hackings nowadays, our data isn’t safe.

    Tick pause, tick pause, tick may be stopped and the data recovered. I use free Maxtor Maxblast hard drive utility (a hard drive wipe then format software.) I use other software -no luck. If the Seagate/Maxtor ones don’t work, try the ones from around 2003 where it has worked great.

    Quote: “I can’t put a price on my memories.” If you have a photographic memory then you’ll always have them. You can even make more. With all the experience of photography and skills you’ve learned, you can make more faster and better from learned skills. But if they’re your invaluable kids growing-up photos or your life documenting photos then that’s another story. And since these photos often only take up about 0.0001% of 2TB, I would want them on DVD disc/SD. Micro-SD cards because in an emergency they’re easy to carry (….or get lost, too.) Photoshop or 7-zip helps to compress them further. Your grown children wouldn’t hate you for having a burred 50kb picture of you or them.

    Maxblast works like this: Insert the CD. Bootup then it will install. It will search for the drive then ask, “wipe/format disc?” reply Yes. Reboot, ticks should now stop. It’s easy from this point on. I hope you can post an update on that.

    If it still ticks then I would take the drive apart and take the two magnet (for your refrigerator) and destroy the disks. You don’t want the discs in the wrong hands. Paying someone $250 to $1,600 is putting your data in the wrong hands in my opinion. A photo of your baby in a tub, while perfectly fine for you, could be a visit from a destroy-your-life agency.

    Other recommendations in the future. Download Truecrypt. Use it on all your valuable stuffs to prevent them from extorting you in the hands of hackers or someone (like one mentioned above.) Use a 20-characters password like it ask you to. Get a micro SD and store only essentials and put it where fire, static or moisture can’t get to it. Get multiple firewalls and a good antivirus. Charging you $250 to $1,600 is extortion, is a sense.

    • Hi Zed, thanks for the advise and tips, I certainly will look into how to protect my data better. When I called Dell to see if I could keep my hard-disk on Sunday, they said yes, but when the tech guy called and came by on Tuesday he insisted that he had to take the hard-disk back with him I thought it was odd. I didn’t give it to him thought, I thought even if I can’t recover it I could still keep it as a souvenir. I’m not a techie person like you and would be afraid to attempt to recover it myself. I have to agree with you that creating photographic memories is something that I can easily do and can do better than the images that I took before. The $1,600 is on the lower end and it could go up to $5,000, I guess people name their price when they know you can’t recover it yourself and I can’t say that I have any image that I would pay that much to get back. It’s a lesson for me, if I’m more organized and disciplined I wouldn’t have cluttered up my hard-disk space.

      • If your drive failed in less than a few years it could be an attack, especially during this is peak season.

        Quick Tips:

        For Firefox, install NoScript Addon then disable everything – but allow permanent permission to trusted sites.

        For Opera. Only open new private window. Disable Javascripts – but allow permanent permission to trusted sites.

        Unplug or eject any external drive when not using them.

        Use ‘Firefox portable’ inside an external drive (or a memory stick) for financial sites. Avoid using it for casual surfing.

        Scan often with an updated antivirus

        Disable flash on untrusted sites or use the latest flash updates.

        Avoid keeping your PC internal drive full because it’s harder to restore or prone to a lock-out extortion. Restore often.

        Hesitate to click on fake…”you have new comment in your wordpress blog or Youtube videos” links unless certain.

        Don’t open any online page with common windows software such as IE or Office.

        Change your password

        Try most or some of these precautions and see how long your drive will last. :~)

        Story. Recently, a guy watches the porch of victim for a $150K package to arrive. Once the package driver leaves he swoops in and takes it. The victim’s PC is likely intruded while perp lurks in the PC for the big big purchase, monitoring their every naive move. It would have been better if the hard drive simply failed from their activity. Creepy story.

        • Thanks Zed, lots of precocious steps and will give them a try. I actually don’t do a lot of surfing, and this hard-disk failure is me working my computer overtime and also not being very organized with my photos,

          The story is kind of scary. My brother in-law is a mailman and he said that the credit card theft would order stuff online and have it delivered to an abandon house, and wait to pickup after the package is dropped off. It’s real bad this time of the year. I’m glad some of the camera store that I purchased from require a signature for delivery, and can check as soon as it’s dropped off. It’s convenience to order on line, but certainly not safe.

  3. Sorry to hear this happened to you. I wonder if it happens to people more often then we think.

    I now use a portable hard drive and just plug it into my desktop or laptop. I also keep photos and other stuff on it just to be safe. Knock on wood, but so far, so good.

    • Thank you Bree, I think it does happen often. I had a hard-disk failure with my last Dell computer also, and they came out and replace the hard-disk and took the old one back. Back then I didn’t think anything of it since I had backup. I bet most people are like me, we worry more about recovering our data more than what people will do with it. I’m glad I wrote this post, it gives me a different perspective that I never thought of before.

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