A few years back, I tried to free up some space on my old PC and decided to
put all of my pictures that I had taken for years on discs. Well, I ended up
using DVD-R discs so that I could use fewer discs due to the storage amounts. I
permanently deleted all of the files off my PC because I had them on discs. But
unfortunately, I was never able to get the discs to work in my old PC. I thought
it was just because of the hard drive being close to full but I recently bought
a brand new laptop and am still unable to get them to work. It will load a few
folders and then the laptop will freeze up like it’s trying to load a 33-hour
movie, but it’s only pictures. Is there any way to retrieve these image files or
I have I simply lost five years of photos?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #47, I look at DVDs that are not reading properly when attempting
to recover old photos. Unfortunately, it was not backed up.
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One copy is not backed up
Well, I have to start with an admonition that, in fact, it’s certainly
possible that you’ve lost your photos. The issue here is simply:
That you have only one copy of the photos;
And as I keep saying, over and over again…
If data is in only one place it’s not backed up.
You weren’t backed up.
It is certainly possible that the DVDs can or can not be recoverable. It
could go either way. But regardless of what that result is, had something else
actually happened to those DVDs (in other words, had those DVDs been working
properly from day one), you could still have lost them. You could have lost them
to a fire, something could have happened to break them. DVDs do deteriorate
So eventually you were going to lose that data one way or another, and
because you had only one copy of that data, they would be lost forever.
Start backing up
Now, the admonition is whatever you do, start backing up.
- Make sure you have multiple copies of the data that you care about in
multiple different formats and/or places.
Try a different drive
Now, with that little finger wagging out of the way, the thing that I would
try – and when I encounter this kind of problem myself, the very first thing I
try is I start taking those DVDs to different computers.
As I’ve spoken about before, DVDs and CDs suffer from what I would call
alignment problems and quality problems.
In other words, different drives will have potentially a different alignment
for the laser.
They will have a different quality for the laser;
And the DVD media itself can be of varying levels of quality.
The only way (the only inexpensive way that I know) to potentially recover
that data yourself is to simply take that DVD to computer after computer, or
rather drive after drive (it could be multiple drives on the same computer) and
see if you can find a drive that will read them.
The moment you do, copy them all. Make copies, start backing them up, throw
them on an external hard drive or two. You get the idea. But that’s the only
way that I know of to actually, independently step through these kinds of
issues and try and recover the data yourself.
Now, having said that, the other approach (if the photos are worth it to
you) is to find a data recovery service and see if they will operate on those
DVDs and recover the data. They may very well be able to.
- Unfortunately, it could come at a cost of hundreds or maybe upwards of a
thousand dollars or more to recover the contents of one DVD.
I just want to make sure that the option is out there. I know that not everyone
can afford it, but in many cases, the data that you actually are at risk of
losing is so important, is so precious, that some people do consider it worth
So those are the two options. Like I said at the very beginning, regardless
of what happens to these DVDs, start backing up.
Next from Answercast 47 – How do
I fix the screen when a game I play leaves it messed up on exit?