Restore Experience


If you have ever browsed a forum at a scrapbooking site, you’ve seen the threads with topics like these:

Help, my EHD crashed!

Dead hard drive – lost my photos!

Everything’s gone!

If there is one “take away lesson” from reading these posts, it’s that no one is immune from computer failures. The best we can do is to manage the risk by having a solid back-up and recovery plan in place.

I recently had the “opportunity” to use my back-up plan when my EHD failed. I store all of my digital scrapbooking supplies and all of my photos on the same external hard drive (EHD). I don’t keep any of it on my main computer because I like to keep it fairly clean (other than software, of course) so that it runs more quickly. (That’s the theory anyway.) I used to back-up automatically to a second at-home EHD. However, it stopped working a long time ago and I hadn’t replaced it.

Fortunately, I’ve been using BackBlaze since March 2011. BackBlaze is an online back-up service. For $5 a month (and even less for an annual or 2 year subscription), the BackBlaze program works in the background of my computer, quietly sending all my files to the BackBlaze storage facility. Five dollars a month is a reasonable insurance policy for my entire scrapbooking supply stash and my irreplaceable family photos and videos.

My initial upload took a several weeks, but after that, it would work a few minutes a day to keep me up-to-date. The program is set up to work continuously, but you can pause it if you need more Internet bandwidth for something else.

The Great EHD Failure of 2012

One day, I went to open up some files and everything was inaccessible. My EHD was corrupted.

As a side note, I didn’t attempt to restore on my own because I’ve heard this is a task best left to professionals because a bad restore attempt can actually harm the files that a pro may have been able to save. Having a pro attempt data recovery can be quite expensive though.


Fortunately, all of my files were safe and sound at BackBlaze. I had several options for restoring:

  1. Download zip files – this option is free, but not feasible for me given the hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes I had to restore.
  2. USB memory stick – this option cost $99 but was again not feasible for me given the size of my restore requirements.
  3. USB EHD – this option cost $189 and provided up to 1 terabyte of restored data.

Clearly I needed a USB EHD. Using the restore web site, I ordered my files for restore. I found the BackBlaze restore interface to be cumbersome so until the interface is made clearer, I would recommend seeking assistance via the help section prior to ordering to make sure you get what you need.

For those not in the United States, keep in mind that you will be responsible for all home country-related taxes, customs fees, etc. I paid an additional $35 in taxes upon pick-up of my restore EHD.

The Results

I have all my files back! The EHD arrived quickly and all I had to do was plug it in via USB. The files are also restored with their original file names and in their original file folders.

I’m so happy to have back all of my precious big moments, like my children’s first days:


A recovered photo of my daughter, on her first day.


My newborn son.

And those precious day-to-day moments:


My daughter, running in the rain


Enjoying a cupcake for the first time on his 1st birthday.

Final Thoughts

Online back-up saved my files for me, but it won’t work for everyone. For starters, the initial back-up can take a long time if you have a lot of data, which a lot of us digital scrapbookers have. You need to have access to a fast, reliable Internet connection to use this service. You also need to verify that your Internet provider doesn’t cap how much you can upload.

BackBlaze retains file versions going back 4 weeks. To put it another way, this means that you can only return your files to their content as far back as 4 weeks ago. If you have a corrupted EHD like mine, you need to act fast to order the replacement files before they’re gone forever.

Overall, the experience of having an EHD go bad was annoying and a waste of my time, but knowing that I would have all my files restored in short order kept me calm.

If your computer died right now, would you lose any files? What is your back-up and restore plan? Leave us a note in the comments.