Digital Dilemma

Just like a house gets filled with things that sit around doing nothing for most of the time, so do we manage to accumulate a share of digital junk. At the same time a lot of precious stuff is also accumulated and stored away in Cds, DVDs, external hard disks, online and in the cloud. Yet can computing and society at large really handle this data?

Case in point, a few days ago my trusty 1 TB Western Digital Home Edition external hard drive bit the dust. The strange thing was that most of the folder structures were accessible, but after a certain layer of folders, the hard disk just seemed to give up. The reason apparently was that the drive had developed quite a few bad sectors.

Some of the precious things stored away in the drive were all my digital SLR photos and a collection of ebooks in the form of PDFs. While the e-books can and eventually will be downloaded again, the photos can’t. Over time some photos have been backed up on DVD, either because friends had asked for them or because I had the foresight to back them up. Yet the loss of data was quite substantial to ensure that I began a crusade to salvage my photos.

There were several software that say they can save data in such a scenario, or help recover your drive. One such software that I came across was HDD Regenerator, which was supposed to use a software algorithm to regenerate bad sectors caused due to unforeseen loss of power. Just seemed what the doctor ordered. But here arises the problem. While hard disk space has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years, we still don’t have the bus speeds and processing speeds to actually fix these drives in a jiffy. So the fact is while we might accumulate GBs of data, we really can’t recover them that easily just by a simple scan. A simple scan in fact would take days on an i7 processor if a 1TB hard disk was full of errors (though one comment on some article did say it should take around 12 hours but I haven’t had any such luck.

My hunt for a solution though did lead me to Terra Copy from code sector. This is a nice freeware that allows you to copy files faster than Window’s built in copy mechanism. And it works! You can even create copy ques. The software is kind of handy because if it finds an error while trying to copy a file, it will try again and then eventually go on to the next file instead of hanging the entire process or forcing you to start all over again. Try the pro version and you get the ability to delete files from your que as well. It is definitely a nice option to manually create copies on multiple disks. Especially when you want to transfer data from a FAT32 drive to an NTFS drive. Using Terra Copy I managed to salvage some of my photo folders. The rest lies in the hands of the shop which I gave my hard disk to, for recovery. One can only hope there.