At some point in all of our careers, it’s going to happen. A disaster will strike and, for the briefest of moments, we’ll consider sending the assistant to find Dr. Kevorkian’s contact information. What kind of disaster could create such an extreme reaction? For a photographer, only a loss of images could make you want to have Suicide Hotline on your cell phone’s speed dial. After that initial wave of hysteria passes, however, it’s time to settle down and attack the problem. For every job there’s a perfect tool and, when it comes to image card disaster recovery, the perfect tool is the right software.
One of the knocks on going all digital is the possibility of a loss of data—images—through some sort of computer glitch. While rare, such a loss is possible, but it’s probably no more likely than losing a roll of film at a lab or losing photos due to fogging from a light leak of some kind. On the whole, digital images are at least as safe as film images when properly managed.
Long-term management involves setting up a proper archive system. Again, some detractors say that this requires too much thought, but for long-term storage, film needs to be properly managed as well. The way to handle images long term is to establish solid backup procedures and follow them regularly. If you’re archiving to optical discs (CD or DVD), be sure that you use a pH-neutral marker when you write on the disc (the acid in most permanent markers can eat through the disc substrate, eventually rendering it unreadable, and an unreadable CD likely results in a permanent loss of data). Establishing a RAID to keep redundant copies of all your images is a safe way to ensure against catastrophic loss of archived files.