Last weekend I made a key mistake when trying to move some of my daughter’s photos around but was saved by my backup. You see we have this very old Mac (as opposed to the old Mac) that was the first computer we let the kids use. They’ve downloaded a lot of pictures on it by now so the hard disk almost full, but also little things are starting to go wrong that tell me the computer won’t last much longer. So, I’ve been moving all of the kids’ pictures and videos to my file server to free up space and prepare for the day when I have to junk the computer. Last weekend I moved all my daughter’s photos from 2009 to my server in a folder for her (I’m also taking the opportunity to organize them a bit so they don’t have 10,000 files in a single folder). I copied them over, looked at the server and the files were all there, and then deleted them off the Mac. However when I went back a few days later to look at the folder, I noticed that a number of the files were 0 bytes in size. “Oops!” that seems wrong. And basic information theory tells me that very little information can be stored in a 0-length file. I double checked and, sure enough, something went wrong in the copying process so the file names were all there but they were empty. After thinking “Oh, no.” I realized this was a perfect opportunity to test my backup methods (of course I really should have tested them before the files were deleted, but that chance had already passed me by). I logged in to the backups and, much to my relief, there were the files. Unfortunately, it took me some time to copy all of them back because I couldn’t sort by creation date on the files, only file name, but I was able to pick out the ones that had been deleted.
So, remember, any data you feel is valuable must be backed up (ideally off-site). If you don’t back it up, you should be willing to lose it when your computer is dropped, stops working or someone deletes the files when they think they’ve made a copy of them.