Lightroom Tips

How Backing Up Just Saved My Butt

You probably always hear people talk about backing up right? Well something happened to me recently that I figured I’d share in hopes that anyone not backing up, will start to.

The Night Before My Trip to Dubai
It all started last week. I taught at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai. The night before I left I did as I always do every night – backed up my Mac with Super Duper (it creates a bootable backup of my entire drive). I have it on an auto backup setting so at some point during the night a backup is created on to a Western Digital MyBook drive. However, since I was also traveling to teach, I always make a backup of the backup to travel with me. That way, if something happens to my computer I have a bootable backup that I can plug into any laptop and still go on teaching. At this point, everything was fine.

My Flight to Dubai (where things went terribly wrong)
First we flew to Atlanta to catch the 15 hour flight to Dubai. At the Atlanta airport I grabbed my laptop to send a quick email only to find it started into a blank gray screen. I tried every key combo I knew to start in single user, safe, whatever mode that I could think of – nothing! Then I called our IT guy (Paul) and asked what he thought. The outlook was bleak, but he asked if I had a backup and to try to boot from that. So I did. Things started booting and then froze and I got an error about my backup drive being corrupt. Ugh! Oh yeah, all of this was happening as they were boarding my flight.

On the Plane
So now I’m on the plane heading over the Atlantic Ocean and trying everything I could to figure this out (with no internet access by the way). After about an hour I lost all hope. My computer would only show a gray screen and wouldn’t boot into my backup drive. I started to weep and quickly took advantage of Delta’s free beer and wine offer on international flights 🙂

Day 1 in Dubai
Once I arrived I went up to the rooftop bar to hang out with some of the other instructors. I met David Nightingale there for the first time. As I told him my story, he immediately said let’s go check this out and spent about an hour with me trying to figure things out (seriously, this guy barely knew me and was helping me out). Again, no luck. My backup drive wouldn’t even mount to his computer. Double Ugh!

Day 2 in Dubai (my birthday by the way)
After Mohamed Somji, the guy who basically runs GPP, found out of my computer problems, he had someone take me to a computer repair store that he knew of (and one that specialized in Apple computers). I wasn’t there for 5 minutes when they diagnosed that my laptop’s hard drive had crashed. They were able to put a new drive in and have me up and running in less than 2 hours from start to finish (not bad huh?).

But just having a working computer was the least of my problems. I had to teach like 6 classes at GPP and all of them were on my previous hard drive (and backup drive). My photos were safe of course because they’re on a separate drive. But all of my outlines, materials, Lightroom library and everything else were gone.

So I called RC Concepcion at work and asked if he’d run to my house to get the other backup drive. He did and called me later to say that the drive wasn’t working. Triple Ugh!!! After some troubleshooting he realized the power supply was bad and luckily we had another one. Folks, I know this sounds crazy but all of these things were working 24 hours before this. I swear! Anyway, RC and Paul (our IT guy) tried a few things to get me the files I needed but ended up FedEx’ing me my backup drive (I also have a Time Capsule running at home so I knew I had yet another backup in case something happened to the drive in transit).

Day 3
Still no drive. Checked online and my drive was due to arrive the next day (which is when classes started).

Day 4
I went out sightseeing in the morning. Came back and about 1 hour before my class, the drive arrived at the hotel. I attached it to the laptop, restarted and booted from the drive and I was right back to where I was the night before I left for Dubai.

The Rest of the Trip
The rest of the trip went great. I had to continue to boot from my hard drive as the cable that was sent with it was USB and I couldn’t do the laptop hard drive swap (in the amount of time I had) without firewire. No sweat though. All I wanted was the stuff on my drive. I didn’t care where it came from.

Today everything is good. I got back from the trip and was able to transfer everything from my backup drive at home to my laptop drive. It’s as if nothing ever happened. I did do one quick photo shoot the morning I left but I borrowed a camera and CF card from Brad Moore at the office. I deleted the files, but Brad had not reformatted or used the card and was able to use SanDisk RescuePro to recover the photos off the card so I literally lost nothing in this whole ordeal (aside from many hours of sleep and my sanity for a few days).

Moral of the Story
Backup your computer and anything else that’s important. When you’re done backing up, backup again. And heck, while you’re at it, back up one more time just to be sure. If you travel, and having the stuff on your computer is vital to you (as it is for me), then don’t just rely on the backup you travel with. You never know what can happen (as I painfully found out). Your computer bag could be stolen for all you know along with your backup drive. I know I can always find another computer to use, but if my backup druve was gone I wouldn’t have all of the important files that I needed to work with.

Thanks for reading. I hope you either a) feel the need to reevaluate and double check your backup process or, b) feel reakkt really sorry for me 😉