Tell us about your worst data disaster to win a Macrium Reflect key

Our friends at Macrium are now offering deeper discounts for TR subscribers. Silver subscribers are now eligible for a 20% discount on purchases made from the Macrium online store, and Gold subscribers get a whopping 40% off (discounts don't apply to multi-license packs). To celebrate, the company has also handed us five Reflect v6 Workstation license keys to give away for home use.

To determine who wins those licenses, we want to hear your best data-loss or disaster recovery story. Tell us all about your experience with that dead hard drive, corrupted SD card, bankrupt cloud storage provider, or even the crazed storage reviewer in your life. Tug our heartstrings with an accounting of the gigabytes of precious data you lost, and the steps you took to get it back—if you got it back at all. Regardless of the outcome, write up your data disaster and post it in this forum thread.

The TR staff will pick our favorites two weeks from today, April 13, 2016. We'll roll the winning stories into a front-page post and notify those winners via email. This contest is open to our entire audience—no geographic restrictions this time around. Be sure to review the full rules of the contest in our forum thread before entering. If you have any questions or concerns about this contest, be sure to post in the comment thread on this article. 

Now is also a great time to become a TR subscriber if you haven't already pitched in. Silver subscribers can pay any amount to gain a year's worth of access to the aforementioned Macrium discounts and other TR-specific perks. Gold subscribers need only to beat our average of $34.63 or so right now to gain a year's worth of even deeper discounts and even more special TR features. Help us out and enjoy great discounts even if you don't have a story to share.

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    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    I haven’t had a horrible data disaster, and with Macrium Reflect, it will stay that way! /bootlick

    • LoneWolf15
    • 4 years ago

    Worst one I remember was getting a call from a client I freelanced for, over a decade ago:

    Client: Hey, can you walk us through restoring all of our data? As in everything?

    Me: Over the phone? No. What happened?

    Seems they had a Dell tech come out to do some form of work on their server. He promptly insisted the RAID controller firmware needed updating, and did it –and their RAID array disappeared. OS, data drive, everything. Ten minutes later, that tech was nowhere to be found, having lit out for parts unknown to avoid the fallout.

    I drove out (70 minutes away). Now, this was Server 2003 days, and third-party backup was expensive, and Server 2003 (not R2) backup worked, but auto-scheduling didn’t work well. I created shortcuts on the desktop to jobs meant to back up their data with all of the correct settings, told them to insert one tape a night, double-click the icon, and it would go.

    Me: When did you last back up?
    Client: Well, running the backup is kind of a pain so we haven’t done it in a month–but we did run one before the Dell tech got here just in case.
    Me: (eyes heavenward) Okay. Let me work.

    This is the only time I’ve ever done this; in theory, it’s supposed to work, in practice, it’s dicey (even if it was textbook). I reinstalled the Server 2003 operating system. After that, I booted it to Directory Services Restore Mode. I punched in the tape, and told it to do a complete restore, replacing any existing files not in use (to bring back both Active Directory structure and all the data). Then I crossed my fingers.

    The restore completed without issue. I was able to restart the server, and get all of the Active Directory structure back, and all of the client’s data –whereupon I told them that if they hadn’t made that tape, they’d have lost the last thirty days of what they were doing minimum, and I’d have had to reconfigure everything. I went through the backup procedure again, and they promised to do it. I went home tired, but with the job done and I wrote them up a good bill.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 4 years ago

    First time I experienced a major data loss was when I was in 7th grade and needed to finish a powerpoint project that I had spent 3 weeks on, and was due next week.

    It was the first time that I would hear the “Click of Death” from my laptop’s hard drive. And the first time that I learned that backups are important.

    Of course, a few years later, after an OS reinstall, a backup external hard drive stopped working when I needed to copy files form it. 😛

    EDIT: I also remember an instance where I was backing up files late at night. Somehow, I mistaken the deleting with copying. I didn’t realize it until about halfway through.

    I used a free file restorer program, but the only problem was that while the files were recovered, the folders weren’t, so I had a couple hundred files in a single folder instead of being all nicely organized. Not a fun time. Oh, and there were no guarantees that all of the files were recovered.

    • PoisonJam
    • 4 years ago

    When I bought my first PC as a student I had the unfortunate combination of Windows ME and an IBM ‘Deathstar’; that was year-long data disaster! I finally saved up enough to buy a more reliable hard drive and switched to Windows 2000.

    That painful period definitely taught me about the importance of having a solid backup procedure, though! And it’s something I still take very seriously to this day.

    • Blytz
    • 4 years ago

    Old school Amiga days, I had a 4.3gig 3.5″ drive hanging out of te side of my Amiga 1200 (face up, board exposed, powered by a psu rigged up to a pc motherboard with nothing else on it)

    I dropped my house keys, and arced 2 of the chips, and a small puff of smoke and it was dead

    Not the most amount of data I’ve lost, but the silliest.

    I’ve also successfully recovered a 300 gig drive form the click of death doing the freezer bag trick. Only worked once.

    • jlong64
    • 4 years ago

    Had an older home built machine and had 2 hard drives in it. A “big “1TB storage drive, and the 250 GB main drive. Had a power surge one night and lost all the drives and data Pictures, Music, movies, and Games. Hard/impossible to replace a lot of the pictures etc. Lost the MB too. Since then I always run a separate and isolated backup drive.

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 4 years ago

    You see, uhm, a friend of mine – you don’t know him…uhm, he had this really large porn collection….and well…you know…

    • 0t
    • 4 years ago

    I have a script that backs up key folders on my laptop whenever I connect to my home wifi. I’ve had it for years. It was backed up to a server which then did backups to an external drive. This worked well for almost a decade. If my laptop drive filled up, I just deleted the data since it was on my server and external drive.

    Then an electrical surge took out my server. I remember the actual storm. I pulled the server apart the next day and realized it was gone for good. But, I had the drive and the backup. I pulled the server’s drive and… it was dead. No worries… I have the backup.

    Well, you know why this is posted here: the same surge that destroyed the computer, took out both the primary and the backup drive. I took stock of all of my data on my laptop and other drives I just by chance had used and got about 80% of it back, but the stuff that was lost included some journals and wedding photos and a few other personal things. That was a good five years ago. I still have the drives. I figure I might try to do a data recovery on them at some point… but for now. Sigh.

    Since then, I’ve added a UPS with excellent line conditioning and surge suppression and my most important stuff is backed up online as well. I am looking into archival blu-rays as well. A bit paranoid, but not without reason.

    TL;DR – backed up faithfully.. still paid the price when a power surge took out both the primary and backup drives.

    • MetricT
    • 4 years ago

    I manage a couple of petabytes of data. Twenty-ish 36-bay bay chassis with 2 TB hard drives, back when 2 TB drives were the New Hotness. It’s filled with a bunch of large (1-2 GB) files that are constantly being written, read, erased by our compute cluster, 24/7/365, at roughly 5 GB/sec sustained.

    After a year or so, one day we had a drive die. Nothing major. When you have 1000’s of drives, there’s a few dying every day. But a new drive didn’t fix it. Turns out, the slot had gone bad. We shrugged, and moved on.

    The time of year comes when the storage array is slammed, and suddenly dozens of slots start permanently failing. We had a terror-filled week trying to figure out the cause. “On-call” meant you *will* be called, multiple times during the night, and will have to drive in at least 2-3 times a week to fix things before we lose redundancy.

    You’ve heard that Linux ext4 doesn’t really need defrag. Turns out that’s not *completely* true. In our case, because of their use pattern (fill the drive completely up, erase a few, fill it back up again), the drive became extremely fragmented, so much so that days/weeks of the read head vibrating constantly 24/7 caused the connector traces on the backplane to break. That’s why our slots were dying.

    So we immediately wrote a defrag script using the “e4defrag” command, and ran it whenever we could, and things slowly got back to normal (after buying 20 new chassis and replacing, anyway…)

    • MarkD
    • 4 years ago

    I was in charge of a supply application on an IBM 1401 back in the days of punched cards, that ran overnight. In order to speed things up, I decided to implement some buffering. We had a disk for input, and one for output, which became the input for the next run. I tested, with live data, and got an amazing improvement, so I re-ran the test. Unfortunately, the improvement in speed was due to writing only the first record in the buffer to the output device….

    I’m older and wiser now.

    • Laykun
    • 4 years ago

    I wouldn’t say it was the worst disaster but this one time our data got possessed by the spirit of a criminal we encountered on a spirit prison planet and proceeded to help my counsellor commandeer the ship. Had a bit of a chitchat with the ghost entities and sorted it all out, no biggy. Afterwards we all had a good laugh over some earl grey, hot.

    • YukaKun
    • 4 years ago

    I don’t need the software, so just for S&G:

    When I was in University (2004-ish) I bought a brand new WD 40GB IDE HDD, one of the firsts in the Country (Chile) and I did not want to install WinXP all over again. I knew of a trick that worked fine and I have used it before, so I just went ahead and copied everything over, including the system directories into the new HDD. I used a friend’s computer and copied everything in safe mode.

    Here comes the stupid part of all this. It would have worked fine if I would have remembered that I had Norton installed (back then it was good :P), so when the computer was booting for the first time (it actually worked, with a sys c: to make it bootable and partitioned in Linux) it gave me a warning message. One of those “there was a change in your partitions detected, want to roll it back?” that you SHOULD NOT HIT “ok” AND CARRY ON. Well, I just did and poof. I lost ALL of my data. Including University projects and all. To this day, I still remember that and actually take the bloody time to read *everything* that is thrown at me in Windows. I had so much (useless in all fairness) stuff that I loved in that HDD that it really hit me hard. Even more since after copying everything I formatted the other HDDs and got them “ready for other stuff”.

    Ugh…

    Cheers!

    • synthtel2
    • 4 years ago

    I’ll just write this here instead of in the entry thread, since I have no need for the software.

    I had a Crucial MX100 start bitrotting stuff not too long ago. Stuff randomly breaking was the main effect – it felt like accelerated winrot, except I run Linux. All the usual suspects checked out fine (including all SMART data/tests), and I was having a lot of trouble tracing my problems to anything. At some point I realized what I really wanted to check the SSD with was some large blocks of at-rest data I could checksum. My own data doesn’t amount to that much, and therefore would be relatively unlikely to accumulate errors. What I did have was Steam games. Steam lets you verify stuff, and about half of my games didn’t check out. Nothing was irreparable (I keep older backups around for this very reason), but bitrotting is a terrible way for something to fail since errors can get silently propagated into backups. I’m thinking at some point I’d like to use btrfs RAID-1 to protect against it a bit.

    • albundy
    • 4 years ago

    lost a terabyte of data that was encrypted, but I didnt know and forgot to check. did a quick format by mistake and lost the file table. there is no recovering from that. once you write even a byte of data over the encrypted sector, its all gone. there is no recovery, not even data recovery labs can get that data back! i cried for days. i was miserable! do you know how much time it took to download that amount of pr0n collection? an entire weekend was lost!

    • Deanjo
    • 4 years ago

    My “worst” was also my “best” data loss was wiping out windows on intention of installing Linux.

    • DancinJack
    • 4 years ago

    [quote=”Jeff Kampman”<] Tug our heartstrings with an accounting of the gigabytes of precious data you lost, and the steps you took to get it back—if you got it back at all. Regardless of the outcome, write up your data disaster and post it in this forum [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=117676<]thread[/url<] [/quote<] Come on guys.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 4 years ago

        Lol the new exposed

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 4 years ago

    During the cryptocraze, I put two 7970’s in a PC I use for work and everything else.
    I fried an SSD and an HDD while swapping out a PSU. Bloody incompatible cables.

    • Waco
    • 4 years ago

    Ha, read the rules. Redirected to the forums. 🙂

    • Pitabred
    • 4 years ago

    I had 4 drives in a RAID-5 in a Linux based media center. Great box, about 5TB of total storage, kept all my movies and such, had it configured to record TV, used it as a NAS for my Windows machines, all kinds of spiffy stuff. One time had to replace a drive that died, and… it worked. Replaced the drive, rebuilt the array, got cocky. Problem with lots of drives is that they generate a lot of heat, and if a fan dies, well, that heat just stays there. Wasn’t a drive that failed next, but that’s the only thing I had set to warn me. By the time I figured that the drives were having problems, it was too late. All of them had cooked themselves to death or nearly so, so there was no rebuild possible, no recovery, all the hundreds of hours I’d spent ripping my DVDs and Blu-Rays to disk were… gone. Like so much dust in the wind. Or dust in the case, as it were. Fortunately I kept my actually crucial documents and most pictures of the kids and such properly backed up, so I only permanently lost a few things, mostly videos of the kids when they were young 🙁 And video of the wedding to the previous wife, but that’s not a big loss 😉

    • ccipher
    • 4 years ago

    Lost my 1 TB HDD of steam games after moving back home from Uni. Replacing it was easy and cheap… Downloading my steam games again on a 5 mbit connection with a 200 GB cap on the other hand is not so great.

      • DancinJack
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

    • Zizy
    • 4 years ago

    I just loaded all holiday images from the camera to the computer and wanted to give them to a friend immediately.
    But I missed the folder I wanted to copy to, so I stopped the copy with about 20% of stuff already moved. Moved, not copied, I also missed the key and I was moving those images, but I didn’t notice this at that time.
    What I didn’t miss was hitting shift+delete + enter of those images in the wrong folder. My usual combo when I wanted to delete something at that time.
    Having completed the copy (now to the correct folder and yeah, copy this time), I noticed some images were gone. Poof. Not there. Tried using those “restore deleted data” programs, but it didn’t help.

    I don’t use shift+delete anymore.

    But … even if I didn’t delete all those images, those would still be lost. Somehow all those CDs with those old images cannot be read anymore, who would have expected that, eh? 🙂

      • DancinJack
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

        • Zizy
        • 4 years ago

        Eh, I didn’t write this to participate, just to share my story.
        There is no cure for stupidity so unfortunately all that software cannot help me much.

    • Milo Burke
    • 4 years ago

    I put two hard drives in RAID0 as my only storage in my first computer build. Six months later, my motherboard died. Trouble was, I had used the motherboard to set up the RAID, and my replacement motherboard couldn’t access the drives in RAID though it also had a RAID controller. And the original motherboard was discontinued and unavailable.

    I lost all my files from two fully functional HDDs simply because I couldn’t buy any hardware to make sense of the half-files on each drive. =]

    I eventually had to reformat the drives. I kept them as separate drives the second time around. And now I keep internal redundancy and cloud backups for everything.

      • DancinJack
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

        • Milo Burke
        • 4 years ago

        Ooh, thanks! What’s the Blizzard of the Month?

    • TheJack
    • 4 years ago

    Had a one terabyte HDD, divided into two partitions, One for OS and the other for personal files. Got an SSD and made it the OS drive, so I thought I’d delete the OS partition on the HDD and make it a single partition drive. I did that but at one point windows wouldn’t let me do something ( don’t remember what ). I think because it was an active. While struggling to get the job done, I came across an option, again no idea what it was. And that was it. All partitions gone. Lost every byte on that drive.
    What was the prize again? for being dumb.

      • DancinJack
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

    • GTVic
    • 4 years ago

    I remember this one time, at band camp …

    • ChronoReverse
    • 4 years ago

    I can’t read. Won’t even enter out of embarrassment haha.

      • DancinJack
      • 4 years ago

      DQ’d!

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      If I could turn back time. – Cher

    • rayleech
    • 4 years ago

    Something wrong with the coupon math. Macrium Reflect v6 – Home Edition 4 Pack is $139.90. Gold coupon applied, price is $97.93. 40% of 139.90 is 55.96, total should have been 83.97. Are you sure this is a 40% coupon? Either the coupon is for 30% (which is 97.93) -or- the cart is coded incorrectly.

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      Are you in Europe? VAT gets added to the purchase in many sites.

        • rayleech
        • 4 years ago

        Nope, already thought of tax. My sales tax rate is 6% and that didn’t add up either.

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      Hey, we looked into this. The discount applies to single licenses only.

        • rayleech
        • 4 years ago

        Not a problem, but someone should fix the article. That little factoid is missing 🙂

          • morphine
          • 4 years ago

          Yes, we’ll update the wording. Sorry for the inconvenience!

    • bunsenbunner
    • 4 years ago

    Something tells me you will hear some horrible tales of data loss woe …

    • DancinJack
    • 4 years ago

    If you post your experience here, you are DQ’d. 🙂

      • bthylafh
      • 4 years ago

      Reading for comprehension is hard.

    • hasseb64
    • 4 years ago

    Done my homework, my first PC for familj company back in the 80ties had a band backup, never any losses so far since then
    But friend had a NAS with this terrible RAID fake mumbojumbo. Both drives crashed at the same time off course, add to that special HDD settings etc etc…
    Did cost him a lot of money to recover and he will never buy a Linux NAS again for sure.
    My WHS2011 server running fine since 2011, only problem is non MACOS compatibility for backup, but it does not matter, have nothing of importance on it anyway

    • odizzido
    • 4 years ago

    I’ve never lost any data. There have been a few times I would have if I didn’t have backups/redundancy though.

    I’ve done data recovery for a few people though. USB drives with corrupted file tables and such.

    exciting story huh?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 4 years ago

      Yes, this is really exciting as I’m in the same boat. Lost a lot of drives, but have had them recovered. It is almost as if it is taken for granted… *knocking on wood*

    • Acidicheartburn
    • 4 years ago

    I don’t have a terrible data loss story, but I can speak for the Reflect software. I recently played around with using it to restore OS drive backups in various ways on a new (old) computer I picked up, and I am impressed with its speed and versatility. I was able to fit both the bootable Reflect rescue media and an image of Win 7 all on one 16GB USB and restore from that image. What’s also nice about the rescue media is that it allows you to browse all the HDDs and external storage and perform copy/paste/delete operations on their files. I haven’t used any other similar software so I can’t say if Reflect is better than any competitor’s software, however. And no, I am not a Macrium shill.

      • chubbyhorse
      • 4 years ago

      Agreed; I have Reflect on my offce PC, and last week my Samsung 840 Pro ‘disappeared’ with less than 1TB of writes.
      Grabbed another drive out of the drawer, popped it in and ran reflect off a flash drive, and two hours later computer was back up. So simple and easy. Highly recommend; worked like a champ.

        • Acidicheartburn
        • 4 years ago

        I used the program to restore an image on my gaming rig two weeks ago when DRM that installed with an old Ubisoft game (Blazing Angels) bricked my OS. Worked like a charm, and the only thing that took a while to do was update everything.

      • Chrispy_
      • 4 years ago

      I like Macrium too.

      I have no need for it since I have alternatives I prefer for both backup and imaging but I often point people towards Macrium Free as an imaging/cloning tool and the incremental backups actually work remarkably well with cloud storage.

      • BIF
      • 4 years ago

      I also don’t need to win the software. I deleted a folder of VST music instruments while on travel. D’oh!

      Luckily for me, I usually rotate my backup drives and let a new full backup complete for each partition BEFORE I leave the house. This way I have current backups at home and WITH ME.

      So I used Macrium Reflect to bring that folder back. I think it was about 250 GB worth of virtual instruments, which would have been a major hassle to reinstall from the original media. I watched the restore with coffee in hand, and when it was complete, the project worked again. But I quietly cut myself off; closing and shutting off the laptop for the rest of the day.

      I figured if I kept going, I would probably bork the entire laptop along with the city that I was in. Sheesh.

    • Ifalna
    • 4 years ago

    No can do, sadly … or luckily?

    In 18 years of computing, I never really lost critical data.
    Back on my first computer when I shot the OS as the clueless child I was, I lost a bunch of mp3s and savegames because I only had a C drive.

    Ever since then I have kept data separated from the OS via partitions and backups (nowadays double redundancy, local and cloud).

    Also I have been most fortunate: I never had a drive die on me or anything like that.

    • morphine
    • 4 years ago

    I lost half my data and half of the backups in a divorce.

    (I’m TR staff, I can’t win. Don’t be concerned 😉

      • anotherengineer
      • 4 years ago

      And, half of your pension, half of your benefits, half of your house, half of your wage, half of your vehicle(s), and half of everything else in the home.

      FTFY 😉

      Well that’s what typically happens here in Canada to the guy.

      But ya you’re j/k I know. Funny though lol

      • jihadjoe
      • 3 years ago

      Must have been devastating to be separated…

      …from your beloved files.

        • morphine
        • 3 years ago

        Zing!

    • bthylafh
    • 4 years ago

    “You are not authorized to read this forum”.

      • Jeff Kampman
      • 4 years ago

      Sorry, matter of timing. Fixed now.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 4 years ago

      -DQed

        • bthylafh
        • 4 years ago

        Moar liek DPd amirite?

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