iPhoto 9 told me "This is what happens when you meet a stranger in the Alps!"
December 18, 2010 1:00 AM   Subscribe

iPhoto 9.0 trashed two years of photos. Although I've gotten some images back, any final recovery suggestions before I need to write over the drive?

So I installed iPhoto 9 back when it came out in October. Turns out it had a bug that could delete a bunch of your photos and that's what happened to me.

Luckily, I had backed up my drive before installing the new version. Unluckily, somewhere in dragging the backup library back to my main drive, I must have accidentally launched iPhoto again, because the iPhoto library on the backup drive was opened and corrupted as well. Yay!

After swearing profusely, I unplugged the backup and emailed DriveSavers for a recovery quote. They said it would be at least $700 and anywhere up to $2700—which is laughably impossible for a student.

I've run Data Rescue 3 and while it rescued some files (to another old smaller backup disk), I wound up with a bunch of folders containing about 25,000 jpegs of varying size; I need to wade through these, deleting out things like thumbnails, cached web images, et cetera. The recovered files all have new names, so any grouping of event photos is gone.

So, although I know I have some files, I don't know—and maybe won't ever know, due to the re-namings—if I got them all.

The problem I have now is that I haven't backed up in about two months (the backup drive has been sitting in a corner until the school term ended and I'd have time to deal with it). Now is that time.

I'm wanting to start backing up my laptop again, but I guess I'm just asking if anyone has any last final suggestions to try before I back up my laptop to the drive (which would thus remove any future possibility of recovering any (more) of the lost files).

(I think I might try an alternate recovery software tonight (FileSalvage), on the off off chance that it might catch some files that Data Rescue might have missed—although I'll probably just wind up with 25,000 duplicates.)

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
posted by blueberry to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Buy another drive to backup to. If you think there's chance there's so unrecovered data on the drive don't use it.
posted by rdr at 1:06 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

s/chance/a chance/
s/so un/some un/
posted by rdr at 1:06 AM on December 18, 2010

I'm not sure if you already did this, but if you go to your iPhoto library and control-click Show Package Contents, any actual photos you have will be in the Modified and Originals folders. You could drag these into a new iPhoto Library. Whatever isn't there I don't think you'll be able to find anywhere.
posted by snofoam at 5:21 AM on December 18, 2010

Yeah, one of the best things you can do is make a bit-for-bit copy of this disk on another cheap disk, such that later, if a great photo-saving technology comes out, you can restore them. I know it may seem expensive as a student, but 500gb drives can be had for $45 these days.

I would suggest you try the alternative software. In a very similar situation recently, my brother purchased and tried a recovery program that acted as though it had recovered a bunch of files, but they were all scrambled. We uses another utility (for Windows, can't find them name) that REALLY recovered everything.

BTW, you should also be able to remove many thousands of those jpgs just by sorting them by size and deleting the smallest ones.
posted by fake at 5:28 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might get a clean external drive and try running PhotoRec on the damaged drive. I know people who have had great success with this.
posted by procrastination at 5:52 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thirding. Wish you'd asked first.

IMPORTANT -- every bit of data you write to that disk now decreases your chance of getting those photos back.

Step one of recovering corrupt data is asking the $1000 question, which is "Is this data worth $1000 to me?" If the answer is yes, the correct thing to do is nothing except call the data recovery pros (DriveSavers and OnTrack) and do what they tell you to do. They will almost certainly recover all the data, and it will almost certainly cost you a bundle of cash.

If it's not worth $1000, then you get another hard drive and duplicate the harddrive at the block level to it, then run your first attempt at recovery. If it doesn't work, you then reduplicate the drive to the scratch drive and try something else.

The problem -- many things you try will make recovery impossible if they don't work. By trying them on a copy, you lose nothing.

Since you are at where you are at, dupe the drive anyway. Better ideas or better tools may come to you later, if you have a copy of the damaged data, you have a chance of recovering it. Once you overwrite it, it's gone.

PhotoRec, as mentioned, does a pretty good job at finding photos by scanning blocks for image headers and trying to reconstruct from there, rather than trusting the filesystem to tell it where files are. You need to have another disk for it to write to. PhotoRec works read only, but you cannot write to the disk you are scanning from without a good chance of destroying the photos you are trying to recover.
posted by eriko at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2010

Can anyone recommend the best way to "dupe the drive at the block level" or "bit by bit"?
posted by notsnot at 8:57 AM on December 18, 2010

If youre command-line and linux friendly the DD command does it. If not, then you can make an ultimate boot CD for windows and use the built-in diskcopy program which does exactly what DD does but with a user friendly GUI. Actually UBCD4W uses this little application, not sure if you can run it while the disk is mounted as a boot disk.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2010

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