My family calls me "The Tourist" because I take so many pictures. I always remind them that they will thank me someday when they look back on those precious memories. I never imagined those photos would just disappear one day without warning.
I pride myself on my ability to capture important family memories. The moment I found out I was pregnant, I took a picture of the positive pregnancy test and uploaded it to a brand-new folder on my PC called "Baby." As time went on, that name changed to "Babies" and into that folder went many more folders of the belly, birth, and every single one of my babies' "firsts." As you may know, a baby has a million firsts—and with twins there are double!
I had all of my babies' photos separated into weeks for the first 6 months of their lives. Then I created a folder for each year with many sub-folders of holidays and special occasions.
One day recently when I turned on my computer, it tried to start in "safe mode" for some odd reason and would never actually boot up. My husband and I took it to the computer repair place and were told that the computer hard drive had experienced mechanical failure—it was completely shot.
We took it to two more places for a second and third opinion, and the answer was the same: There was nothing more they could do for us, and all of our files—including the photos—were gone for good.
The worst part was that the hard drive had been damaged by "trauma" and not a virus, so the files on the hard drive were corrupted and probably couldn't be recovered. Who knows what caused trauma to the computer tower that sits under my desk untouched?
We were told we could send the computer to a company that was considered a last resort in the industry of data recovery and their employees would see if they could get anything at all from it. They would comb the hard drive for weeks in a dust-free room with gloves and the whole get-up. This could potentially cost us thousands of dollars. We decided the photos were worth the gamble.
All My Photos Gone
I felt like I had been run over by a truck. A feeling of sickness spread over me at the thought of never seeing the pictures of the babies' first steps or the time my husband took them to Baskin-Robbins in the red wagon and brought them home covered in chocolate ice cream.
Gone was the image of the time that I put them in the same bouncy seat at 4 weeks old and my son thought he was in heaven and my daughter thought she was somewhere closely resembling hell.
No more documentation of my babies' first meal of solids or the time Daddy came home to find me and my daughter snuggled together asleep on the couch.
Gone were the pictures of their wonder and amazement the first time they saw the waves of the ocean.
Gone. All gone—20,769 files to be exact. I had never backed up my computer or any of the photo files on it.
Rebuilding and Researching
While I was impatiently waiting for any news on the photos, I could barely talk about it without crying. I felt such a loss.
During that time, many family members and friends gave me images they had taken over the years. And I could still access the few pictures I had uploaded to Snapfish and Facebook, so I did have a small collection of photos to begin rebuilding my library of memories.
I also began researching how to back up and store photos so that we did not get into this predicament again.
Here's what I found:
- Picture Keeper storage software is an external hard drive that, when plugged in, will search your computer and copy any new photos it finds since the last time you plugged in.
- Shutterfly has a program that finds, copies, and stores any new photos that you upload to your computer.
- Carbonite is a subscription-based online backup service that automatically and constantly backs up your data when you are connected to the Internet.
After a few months, news finally came back from the "last resort" company that they had recovered 80% of our data to the tune of $2,000. I was elated! (Definitely not at the cost, but at the idea that I would have most of my photos back.) What a great gift from God and the cosmic universe!
I will never take technology for granted again. I am currently backing up my files on an external hard drive, but I am planning on getting Carbonite soon because of how foolproof it is. And, as this story proves, I was a fool.
Remember to back up all your family photos!
Want more Lauren? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!