Take it from me… you want to back up your phone pictures regularly. I know this from experience. I learned the hard way.
It’s not like I lost that many images, in the big scheme of things. And it’s not like I lost the memories that those photos documented. But still, the entire thing was preventable…. avoidable.
How I almost lost three months’ worth of phone snapshots
You see, I regularly back up my phone pictures to my hard drive, just as a precaution. And I take advantage of an Android app that backs up my images to “the cloud” as well. But when I got my new phone last fall, I neglected to set up the back-up feature. But everything was hunky dory. Until I decided to install a screen lock password for my phone (a judge ruled that police can access your phone’s data if it’s not password protected). And when I set that up, I didn’t realize the default option for “reset phone and clear data after 10 failed attempts” was on. Since I chose the pattern password unlock screen, my creative toddler was excited to find a “game” on the home screen of my phone, and he gleefully played it …for… you guessed it… all 10 attempts.
The phone was handed to me with a reset notification blaring in my face… and I unwittingly let it proceed to wipe my phone’s internal memory — as well as the micro SD card containing my precious snapshots. I diligently went about getting my phone back in order. And when I set the password screen this time, I made sure to uncheck that evil “reset everything” feature. But for some reason my password was recorded wrong. So the phone had to be reset before I could use it again. No problem. Reset to factory defaults, easy enough.
So, two formattings later, I discovered my SD card no longer had my data on it. I was upset and sad. All those pictures… gone. Well, aside from the ones I’d shared to Instagram or wherever else. But, I was still hopeful. You see, there are software programs out there that can recover data from damaged and reformatted cards. And actually, when a card is reformatted, the data doesn’t disappear until new data is written over top of it. So I was pretty optimistic about getting some pictures back.
Now, remembering which software I’d reviewed in the past was harder. The first one I tried using was a complete bust. It recovered the names of every file, but nothing further. Nothing readable. Nothing practical. I was so sad.
That night I got to thinking.
Yes, I love photographs. I love snapshots. I love how they draw me into the memory of that moment. I love how the image brings back the smells, sounds, and emotions of that split second, or even the entire experience. I treasure my photos very much. They remind me of the joy in my life, the wonderful family I have, and all that good stuff.
Yes, but. My stuff does not define me. Those pictures are only a representation, an mere reflection on the surface. They are a glimpse into the depth of my life experiences. I still have those memories, even without the photos. I still remember. The photos are not “the key” to accessing my past. They merely represent it. My life will not be lived in regret of this loss — in the big scheme of things, it’s insignificant.
With that, I felt at peace about everything. I was content.
Come morning, I decided to try one other software program to see if it could restore any photos. Just for kicks and giggles. I didn’t really expect to see anything.
Was I ever surprised.
Before my eyes, the software started pulling up image after image. My heart fluttered a little in excitement, I will admit. Yes, I’d accepted my “fate” — but this was good fortune indeed! Some of the images recovered were partially corrupted, and others had a working thumbnail but corrupted main image. I didn’t get everything back. Some of my favorite snapshots were still gone.
But consider how many were recovered — I was elated. I’d say for the three month time period when my phone wasn’t backing up images, I probably took a thousand shots easily. 80% were recovered, in some form (including some partially corrupted ones I deemed “passable”).
The videos, on the other hand, were lost completely. Unreadable.
At that point, though, I didn’t really care.
Some of my images had been rescued. Some of the pictures I’d thought were lost forever had been found. I’m glad that I didn’t lose everything.
What’s the moral of the story?
You need to be backing up your memories regularly. You don’t want to lose everything. Back up your phone pictures, if you care about them. Back up your pictures that you diligently store on your computer. Storage space is cheap. You can buy 1 TB drives for under $100 (Western Digital has 1 TB internal HD and 1 TB external HD options #afflinks). You can use cloud services. There are ways to back things up. I’ll probably cover that in more detail in a future post.
But for now, know that your images need to be stored securely. And backed up on a regular basis.
Otherwise you might lose your photo memories, like I almost did.
Have you had a close call, or experienced loss of your photographs? Either digital or physical photos? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.