Over 450 Photos and 1-Year of Memories – LOST!

2003 was a magical year (until it wasn’t). My daughter, Grace, was born in December of 2002, so the entire year of 2003 was filled with “firsts” in her life and little milestone moments.

I was proud beyond belief. And she had me wrapped around her beautiful tiny little fingers.

Our lives were full of new and magical little experiences. It was my first time as a father, and I was smitten for that little girl.

We were learning what life was like together, and I was loving every moment of it.


The Photographic Revolution

For most of my life I have enjoyed photography. But this took it to a whole new level. I bought a digital camera and went hog wild taking photos.

I documented everything with photos. Rolling over, crawling, first steps, first piece of cake, meeting new friends, meeting relatives for the first time, new dresses, headbands (sweet little girl didn’t start growing hair for about two years), our family travels, and about everything else you can imagine.

Keep in mind that 2003 was pre-iPhone days. We didn’t all have professional photography available with our smart phones, complete with 3-camera systems and myriad filter options.

This was the rise of the compact digital camera. You had to take pictures with your camera, save them onto a memory card, then transfer them to your computer for permanent storage.

This was also long before the rise of iCloud and Google Photos, so there was no convenient online home to store all of your precious memories.

All of my photos were conveniently stored on my desktop computer in my home office. When we wanted to look at the photos, we gathered around the computer and reveled in the beauty of our sweet little girl.

It seemed like every week we were snapping new photos of the next event or accomplishment.


Warning Signs

As the year wore on, my computer started making an odd “clicking” sound when I would start it up.

It didn’t always happen, but every couple of weeks I would hear the noise. I made a mental note that I needed to get it checked out.

Then the noise would stop, life would continue, and I would forget about it (out of sight, out of mind).

So I went about my daily life of work, family time, travels, and new experiences with my sweet baby girl. This worked out just great, until it didn’t


Crash and Burn

One Saturday morning late in the year I went to start my computer. It once again made those odd “clicking” sounds. Only this time it also made a high pitched whining sound….and then it just stopped.

I tried to restart the computer. No luck. Tried it again. Nope.

I tried talking to it. Banging on it with my hand. Begging it to work. Praying that it would turn back on.

Nothing worked.

And remember, this was 2003. This was long before online digital storage. And unfortunately I did NOT have a backup system in place.

I was in a state of PANIC. Never mind that I lost spreadsheets, emails, and work files. None of that really mattered to me.

What mattered is that EVERY SINGLE PHOTO I had of my 1-year old daughter was GONE. I had over 450 pictures that had documented every little milestone of the year. All gone.


An Expensive Lesson

It quickly became my number one priority to somehow recover all those photos from my crashed computer. This was all very new and foreign to me. I had never experienced a computer crash with complete failure before.

I finally found a computer forensic company (think IRS or DEA raids to confiscate and dig into the files on hard drives) that said they might be able to help. I brought my computer to them and told them of my woes.

They were sympathetic, but said it was a 50/50 shot of whether they would be able to recover the photos. Further, it was going to cost me $1,700 for them to do the work…regardless of whether or not they were successful.

The decision was easy, even though $1,700 was a lot of money. There was no way that I was going to just give up and lose all those pictures.

Two weeks later I got a phone call with the good news. They were able to recover all of my photos!

My baby girl is now 17. And though I don’t go back often and look at those first year photos, just knowing they are safe gives me peace of mind.

I learned that having a backup system is REALLY important. My photos are now double backed up – once on iCloud and once on Google Photos. Lesson learned!

This post has been brought to you by Ken Wimberly – father and founder of Legacy Journal

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