I recently encountered a computer that has a hard drive that has been professionally wiped of data including thousands of photographs. I can not reveal the name of the office supply store that performed the initial work. I can only reveal that it rhymes with the word ‘Naples’ (a place in Italy).
Anyway – here are some recommendations for holding on to important photographs:
(1) Save the original camera cards. Don’t erase them for reuse. Just keep them in a safe place.
(2) Sign up for the pro version of Flickr and upload all of your photographs there.
(3) Periodically save all of your photographs to CD or DVD.
(4) Save photos to an external hard drive and don’t erase the copies from your internal hard drive.
(5) Use a free program like Clonezilla to image your entire hard drive to a folder on an external hard drive.
(6) Make prints of your favorite photos.
(7) Some combination of the above
If your hard drive has crashed and has not been professionally erased, just bring it to me for recovery. We’ve recovered data from physically failing drives, drives that have been restored to the ‘Factory Default’ and drives that have been formatted or had their partitions removed. If your drive is not recognized by the system or does not spin-up at all, I recommend using Gillware in Madison, WI: https://gillware.com/services.php?Affiliate=1191