Photo Loss!

Something extraordinary happened this evening. I apparently lost photos on my camera! I hadn’t transferred the contents of my 4GB Hitachi MicroDrive from my EOS 1D Mark II since Saturday evening. I attended Amy and Jeremy’s wedding on Saturday and Sunday and took several memorable photos. Over the past three days, I’ve done some light shooting at the house and at work.

This evening, after I had Rae take my daily photo, I noticed Image Capture reporting 125 photos on the memory card. That’s odd, I thought. I had taken that many on Saturday, but at least a hundred more on Sunday. When the copy was complete, I was shocked to see only Saturday’s image in my Inbox.

WTF?!? What could possibly have happened to have caused the past four days of photos to just suddenly disappear? How come the Saturday’s photos were untouched?

I’ve been trying a variety of software packages to help recover the images. Data Rescue X couldn’t find the images. Disk Warrior couldn’t even see that the MicroDrive was mounted. I found a program on the web, PhotoRescue which appears to have found the images. Problem is, I am still waiting for the registered version of the application to arrive via email. After paying through Kagi, the product is supposed to come in less than 10 minutes. 45 minutes later, I’m still waiting.

Sigh. Looks like I’ll have to do this in the morning. If it’s a MicroDrive issue, it’s the last time that I’m using a MicroDrive to store my photos. SanDisk 2GB Ultra IIs are selling for $80-90 and the Extreme IIIs are only $110 these days. Maybe I’ll get several of these to handle my photo storage needs for the immediate future.

7 thoughts on “Photo Loss!

  1. I *never* shoot with Microdrives precisely because I’ve lost images while using them. Good luck getting the images back…

  2. Jauder Ho

    Adam, try R-FAT Studio. I lost some images on a hard drive and was able to recover most of the images.

  3. PhotoRescue saved my images from certain hard drive doom. $29 well-spent!

  4. syndromes

    I’ve had my 1GB microdrive since I bought my D30, but i’m afraid to shoot with it much anymore after all the horror stories of lost images. And this story doesn’t help any ;) Haha, I guess nothing but CF for me now!

  5. Sean Harding

    If it makes you feel any better (I don’t suspect that it does), I’ve lost images on good old standard CF cards too. However, my Sandisk Ultra IIs have been solid (the ones that have eaten photos are some cheapo Vikings I bought back when CF cards were actually expensive).

  6. Edward

    If you are using a Mac, I can almost guess what happened, since the same thing has happened to me before… the dreaded “I didn’t eject and the stupid Mac jumbled my files” problem. It is the one main reason that I refuse to use a Mac when downloading my photos!

    What happens is that Mac uses what is called “Write Behind” on it’s disk drives, in order to increase apparent performance. That is fine for internal drives, but for removable drives it is a very dangerous thing. Basically what happens is that the Mac keeps information in RAM for a while while writting it to disk, tells you that it wrote it to the disk, and then actually writes it later when it darn well pleases. Doing an ‘eject’ forces the write process if it didn’t have time todo it itself..

    In Windows XP removable drives are ‘write behind disabled’ by default so all data gets immediately written to the removable device, without being held in cache. This is much safer than the Mac’s method. I have not found ANY way to turn off write-behind on a Mac.

    What probably happened is that you had a card in the card reader, you looked in it or downloaded it, and then removed it without ejecting. You then inserted the card with the new data before you got the “Don’t remove without ejecting” warning. Guess what… the FAT (File Allocation Table) from your old card updates the FAT in your new (not yet downloaded) card, trucates the length and voila!… data lost.

    I’m ashamed to admit that it has happened to me more than once… when you have a stack of 8 cards, and you are on a deadline, removing without ejecting is a very easy mistake to make. You insert the next card and start to curse at the file list.

    If you could recover the files from your card, Microdrive, solid state or just a string with knots in it… it wasn’t the cards fault… it is the boneheaded ridiculous moronic write-behind cache for removable drives that your Mac uses.

  7. Sean Harding

    I’ve downloaded many tens of thousands of images on my Macs, using upward of 10 cards in a session, and I’ve not lost a single image to the problem you describe. The only image losses I’ve ever had (mentioned in my comment above), all happened in camera. Of course, PhotoMechanic unmounts the cards as soon as it’s done downloading the images, so I never have to remember to do so.

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