The inevitable hard drive crash, and the rescue of lost photos

Well, I think I am pretty good at backing up my files onto an external hard drive, and then making a back up of my back up. I follow the ‘rules’. One thing I just learned is that maybe I don’t follow the rules regularly enough to prevent small scale emergencies from happening. The death of my external hard drive drove this home yesterday. The sad part is, I was plugging the drive in to do my ‘back up of my back up’, and discovered that it had given up on its spinning career. I Google’d all the forums, asking the futile question “what to do if my hard drive won’t spin??’ and reading all the well meaning but ineffective ways to resuscitate my little black rectangular beeping friend. ‘Buy another identical hard drive and replace the circuit board’. “Put your hard drive in the freezer”. And so on.

Luckily, my 6-month old backup wasn’t too out of date, save for the 2600 or so photos that I took all summer. I could give up on the photos, but there are those fun times with Negar, the last few photos of my cat Jersey before she went to kitty heaven, the new kitten photos, the building of my garage… I need to get the photos back.

Luckily, I am a faithful user of Lightroom, and this software makes preview images of your photo library. I hadn’t given much thought to this 14 GB file on my hard drive until now, when it occurred to me that I could probably extract the preview images from Lightroom’s cache. I went through all the forums, and all the code altering pathways, the free plugins that don’t work very well, and settled up File Juicer, an $18 shareware package (Mac only), that made it a breeze to extract the Lightroom previews and rescue my photos. I highly recommend File Juicer:

It works just like it says it will. The only downside is that it extracts all the previews (thumbnails, medium sized, large, and 1:1 sizes), so you end up with 6 files for every image. It also gives each preview a filename of a long string of numbers and characters, so there will be a fair amount of image and filename wrangling to get things back to the way they should be.

Oh well, it is the price we pay for tardiness in backing up our stuff. It certainly could be worse. Thank you, whoever made this program!

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