Digital Disasters – How Toy Story II Almost Disappeared

You’ve experienced it. That punch in the gut when you realized the file you spent days on is gone, just gone. You have copies, great. Um, they’re corrupted. You panic.

Welcome to the wonders of the digital world. The first time it happened to me I couldn’t believe it. It just seemed impossible files could disappear and backups be corrupted or unopenable. Now I back up to two different drives at work and another at home, and I’m still paranoid.

The “experts” now say you should do several things to protect your digital media:

  1. Be sure your files are backed up in multiple places, at least three.
  2. If you buy the same brand of hard drive don’t buy them all from the same retailers: manufacturing glitches can show up over all units from the same batch.
  3. Rotate your drives and upgrade to new media regularly. Those CD-R’s from 12 years ago may have data problems from information loss.
  4. Have a sense of humor. You’ve traded speed for longevity. That’s the way it is. Example: the average Daguerrotype will last about 10,000 years, meaning there will still be plenty of 1850’s portraits around thousands of years after every photo from this century, and most likely the next, are toast.

Share your horror stories here. You’re among sympathetic listeners. Thing is, I just can’t ever remember the graphite mysteriously disappearing from a vellum drawing. Just saying.

And lest you think it just us, watch this little film about how Toy Story II almost disappeared into the digital ether along with your files.