Cyclic Redundancy Check Nightmares

As a purist, I was a relatively late convert to digital photography. I soldiered on with V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W Fuji Velvia slide film (nominally 50 ASA but more like 40 ASA in reality) for ages before finally converting to digital in 2008. Consequently, I now possess a couple of book shelves full of slide storage boxes. Each one holds 10 slide carriers with a capacity of 50 slides each so – running out of fingers and toes – 500 slides. I have 15 such boxes so – more stress for the fingers and toes – something approaching 7500 slides. Most of them are rubbish, of course, but it’s history. However, it’s also the ultimate backup.

Ultimate, that is, as long as you can run a decent film scanner. About 8 years ago I had my first, much loved Fuji Filmscan 200 when I upgraded my PC to my only very recently superseded Sony Vaio laptop running XP. The outgoing machine ran Windows ‘98. I connected my scanner. Nothing, nada, nichts. It wouldn’t work. Nor would it ever because nobody had written drivers for it beyond Windows ‘98. I now possessed a Fuji boat anchor 200. I bought my current Minolta Dimage scan 5400 and plugged it in via the handy (and faster than USB 1) FireWire (IEEE 1394) connector. I could scan again and with far superior results. Great!

As and when I could be bothered to invest the time and effort, I would scan in some slides until I had enough to almost fill a CD, then release valuable hard drive space by burning a back-up disk. It was laborious, each slide taking upwards of two minutes. (I was selective – I did NOT do them all).

When I moved to digital, CDs were pretty much useless; each image being about 12Mb, I needed DVD capacity. The process however, remained the same: upload instead of scan, save the images on the hard drive until I had a DVD’s worth, burn my back-up disk and release space on the hard drive.

I recently finally replaced my Sony Vaio with a splendid new Dell XPS 8300, a machine with a 1.5Tb hard drive. This is way more than enough to hold all our current CDs and DVDs of photos put together. I began reading the disks back in. Oddly, the reading process for a CD seems considerably slower and noisier [ ❗ ] than for a DVD, despite the reduced capacity. I can only assume that the DVD drive has trouble with older technology. Weird! However, I finally arrived at France 2008, my first disk from a digital snapping trip: “Cyclic Redundancy Check” was the unwelcome message that greeted me. A what?! The file names supposedly on the disk were listed but, try as I might, I couldn’t read them in. I tried the old machine in case it was some incompatibility with the DVD drive unit: “Cyclic Redundancy Check”. I tried my Dell Inspiron craptop [now seemingly a laptop once again courtesy of a new hard drive]: “Cyclic Redundancy Check”. Oh bother, or words to that effect!

My cunning scheme had now failed – being a digital set of images that I’d deleted from my hard drive, there being no slides available to rescan and my “back-up” being useless, I’d lost a set of photographs. Everything I read said that some recovery can be attempted from a CRC failure on a hard drive but not on a optical storage device. We did find a piece of software called CD Recovery Toolbox which claimed to be able to perform some level of recovery from a bad CD, though, so I tried it in desperation. After 12 hours running it was 50% of the way through the disk and all the most recent images that it claimed to have recovered were useless. Not its fault, I’m sure – the recording was just rubbish.

All was not lost – some photos had apparently been faithfully recorded and were recovered, though my ancient laptop with Ubuntu did it in less than an hour under my manual control. It wouldn’t, of course, recover any .bmp files ‘cos they are Windows only. Anyway, I have some images back but it’s a lesson learned. One back-up ain’t enough for anything critical.

Oh yes, and once again I can’t run my film scanner on the new machine straight away because the new machine doesn’t have a FireWire connection. Must go and buy another USB cable. 😉

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