I experienced a photographers worst nightmare the other evening and learned two very valuable lessons. I’d had a lovely evening in a local Bluebell wood and was eager to see what i had captured on the comupter, I hurried home and popped my memory card into the card reader ready to import images into Lightroom only to be confronted with a message saying ‘Cannot create folder – Card must be formatted before it can be used’. I checked the file explorer to see if there was any data only to be confronted with another message saying ‘This dive is not readable or contains corrupt data’, I then got a deep sinking feeling.
When i’m out I ‘normally’ backup my images onto my ipad but on this occasion the shoot was very local so I left it at home. That was my first mistake, from now on my ipad will accompany me on every shoot and the images backed up before they get close to the computer. The second mistake was discovered after a bit of detective work. I loaded a new formatted memory card into the camera, took a few test shots and then uploaded these to the computer via the camera USB connection – all the images appeared as normal. I then placed the memory card into the reader and guess what? that unwelcome little message appeared again ‘Cannot create folder – Card must be formatted before it can be used’. This brought all my suspicions to the memory card reader. I followed this process a second time with the exact same results. Thats where I learned my second valuable lesson – don’t use sub standatd equipment. The card reader had worked fine over the last year but I remember buying it and elected to go for cheaper Jessops brand than the more expensive Sandisk readers with the thought that its only a card reader. I now realaise that this is a very important link in the image processing chain and that chain is only as strong as it weakest link. You could argue that I was the weakest link on this occasion for buying the said cheap card reader, lol.
Anyway, back to the corrupt data. There are many choices of software out there that claim to recover data of which I have tried a few. Some failled straight away but one I tried had recovered the files in their CR2 format (canon’s RAW image format) with the appropriate file sizes but when I try to load these into Lightroom or Photoshop ACR I get the message ‘Cannot open – this image is the wrong format’ I have searched at length on the internet for a solution but to no avail. The images on the card were of no particular value but this whole episode sent a shiver down my spine and left me thinking ‘What if this had been a paying clients images?’
I’m now the owner of a high quality card reader the iPad will definately be my primary backup device before the images reach the computer… Oh, and if anyone has any thoughs or suggestions on data recovery i’d be more than happy to hear them.