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Help!!! Have lost DD's first two years of photos!!!

(22 Posts)
BearintheBigBlueHouse Tue 25-Jan-05 10:25:06

Dont' know if this is the right topic to post on , but please help if you can. Before DD was born (about 3.5 years ago) we bought a digital video camera (the way you do) and took lots of movies of her as well as stills on its memory card. The movies we converted to VHS and (being somewhat anal) we also hung onto the original digital tapes. The stills we looked at on the PC and printed some out like regular photos, although as the quality was not brilliant we also kept taking 35mm photos. Pretty soon after though, bitten by the digital bug, we bought a Canon Ixus digital camera and the 35mm camera got left in the attic. We took loads of pictures and printed them off 20 or so to a sheet - like contact sheets really – and stuck them in a folder like a makeshift album. Every so often we would find one we really liked and print off a large high-res copy for framing or sending to GPs. Shortly after buying the camera, I bought a CD burner to attach to our PC and started sticking all our photos onto CDs for (I thought) safer storage and burning copies to send to the GPs.

Just over 2 years down the line I got a Mac and started loading all new photos directly onto iPhoto and then decided to try to back up everything onto an archive DVD. However the majority of the CDs I had burned on the PC refused to play on the Mac. OK, I thought, let’s get them up on the PC, network the two machines and transfer the files. But the PC then died. It was provided by DP’s office, so it took a while for them to set us up with a new(er) one. When I set that up, it wouldn’t play the CDs either, saying “disk not formatted” even though it registers the title I gave the disk, or “disk structure corrupted, disk unreadable”. Refusing to give up, I connected the CD burner, but it too was now unable to read the disks.

Aaarrggh! We’ve lost DD’s first two years worth of photos – apart from the thumbnails we printed out for reference. There are also priceless pictures of DD and DS with my mum who died of cancer last summer, and I really, really want those back.

There are 20 CDs (none anywhere near full, but in total there must be 800-900 photos on there) that we can’t get into. Catholic guilt makes me think that in a way I’m to blame for having too much kit – should have stuck with the 35mm camera – but the pictures are still very precious to us and worth trying to retrieve.

Does anyone know of any software (either PC or Mac) that can help us drill down into these disks and rescue the photos. Or is there somewhere I can take or send the disks to to do it for us (although for obvious reasons I’d prefer to do it myself – but whatever it takes I guess).

PlainFlum Tue 25-Jan-05 10:28:38


Are they in cyber space?

Levanna Tue 25-Jan-05 10:58:55

Bear, that's awful! V. for you. Could you scan the thumbnails back on to your mac (if you have access to a scanner)? Then save them back to fresh disks?

Mothernature Tue 25-Jan-05 11:06:46

Oh dear Oh dear... so sorry, we too lst a number of photos which we didn't have backed up on disk when the computer crashed...I hope someone is able to help you....I'm sure someone out there knows someone who can help...

Chuffed Tue 25-Jan-05 11:25:24

Bear did you ever go in and look at the discs after they had been written?

starlover Tue 25-Jan-05 11:54:49

hi bear
i just spoke to my dp, and he said the pictures will be get-able.
but, have you tried them on a different machine? because he said it's unlikely that all 20 would suddenly be unreadable, and it sounds more like a pc prob than a problem with the disks.
there are data recovery places you can send disks to get the stuff off but they're very expensive.

He then said a lot of stuff about macs using a unix platform which makes it easy for you to do something with but not if you use the gui front end I switched off then. But he seemed to think that it would be easy enough to get the pics back... if you have someone who knew what they were doing!

starlover Tue 25-Jan-05 11:55:26

what format are the pics?

MancMum Tue 25-Jan-05 12:10:31

I did something similar and took hard drive to shop and they did some jiggery pokery and for just 50 quid got all my precious photos back -- mightbe worth phoning up a few.

they did say it was quite difficult to lose data but there are different ways to get it back - more complicated ones require trip to the factory but ours was done in shop

hub2dee Tue 25-Jan-05 12:27:36

I googled 'retrieve data' 'corrupt cd' and found where you can get a trial version on download apparently.

You could also consider some kind of cleaning and repair kit type of thing.

Another data extraction / repair tool is here CD Recovery .

Have a google along the lines of 'corrupt cd' and you should find lots of tips. Good luck.

They'll also be loads of tools for doing this natively on your Mac.

Casmie Tue 25-Jan-05 18:09:38

Bear: worst case scenario you pay a data recovery company to get them - I promise you, they're really good at getting info off of seemingly corrupted media.

Don't feel guilt - 35mm isn't incorruptable and a flood or a house fire could have just as easily wiped out your photo collection, or even just a bit of damp and fading over time.

Once you've retrieved them all and got them in a format you can access, I can well recommend backing up once a month and sending to a family member off site (or a safe deposit box if you have one). Remember, not even iPhoto will have perfect backups.

hugs hope you get them back very soon.

lunavix Tue 25-Jan-05 18:15:38

If you still have the camera memory cards some photo kodak-y places will retrieve deleted photos! No idea how they can do it!

It's quite expensive - like 35p a photo, maybe cheaper for more, but if you are desperate, it could give you peace of mind

hub2dee Tue 25-Jan-05 21:06:01

If you've still got photos on memory cards (which I doubt as you've archived to CD), there are a bunch of data rescue programs which retrieve off corrupt cards.

Here's photo rescue for example, one of the best recovery apps in that area apparently.

Some apps allow you to download a free trial version to verify what could be retrieved off a given card so you can try before you buy.


morningpaper Tue 25-Jan-05 21:08:38

To confirm; ALL THE CDs give the same error message?

morningpaper Tue 25-Jan-05 21:14:23

I think the problem lies with the reading of the CD-RW disk rather than the disk itself and is fixable - can you remember what software you used to write the CDs? Try to install this software on another PC and then read the disks. I think this will resolve the problem.

BearintheBigBlueHouse Tue 25-Jan-05 22:11:34

Thanks everyone - the pics are jpegs and are no longer on memory cards or any hard drive. Most of the CDs say they aren't formatted, do you want to format? the rest say structure corrupted etc. When I originally wrote the disks I did go back and check each one worked in the PC's main disk drive rather than just the burner - and they did.

I downloaded CD Roller as suggested by hub2dee (despite Norton warning me repeatedly that it was a well dodgy .exe) and could see the jpeg files!! but couldn't extract without parting with cash. Before I did so I got to thinking about the original reloading the Roxio software that was bundled with the Memorex burner to see if there was a fix program on there - but none came up, but I might be able to sort of cut and paste from one of their other programs or search their websites for updated firmware. That's tomorrow's job, if not I'll pay for the CD Roller.

I'll keep you all updated of progress, many, many thanks again.

PS When I get them all back I'm backing up to CD and to DVD and to my .Mac diskspace.

hub2dee Tue 25-Jan-05 22:46:37

Hi Bear,

I think Norton will warn you about any .exe you try and download / run just to make sure you've intiated the download rather than a 15 year old script kiddie with nothing better to do than hijack strangers' computers and fill them with spyware.

('.exe' is the suffix for any Windows executable application)

If one of the apps can show you some / all of the images on the CD that means that for the $30 or so you will get your pictures back, which is good news. I'm sure if you spent a while googling some more you could find a free app to do it.

BearintheBigBlueHouse Thu 27-Jan-05 15:25:20

have got them all bar one Quicktime video clip - hooray!!!!. Am now trying to burn 800MB worth onto a couple of CDs then to transfer them to the powerbook, then to backup onto a DVD etc. thanks everyone for the vital advice,


Gem13 Thu 27-Jan-05 15:35:33

Well done! Got DH to have a read but he said everyone had given you good advice already.

Glad you got them back. Apparently ours are networked and backed up on FIL's PC. Don't like it myself - we have only 20 real photos of DD and about 2,000 of DS. I can see us printing them off for her 18th!

hub2dee Thu 27-Jan-05 17:13:17


Out of interest, what method finally allowed you to retrieve them / read the disk ? Was it just a good wipe ?

Casmie Thu 27-Jan-05 17:32:47

Yay! Glad you got them all back! Fantastic news

BearintheBigBlueHouse Thu 27-Jan-05 20:27:12

FInding a way to read UDF coded files - the dopey USB CD burner that I thought was the dogs-you-know-whats a couple of years ago said it was burning CDs that could be read on any computer - was it hell. The CDs and their contents were all UDF coded, so now I can open them on the PC , but still not on the Mac as I can't get a UDF volume access program to download for Mac OS X - Roxio lead you to one and then all they have is an exe file - all the others I can find don't work for OS X - d'oh!. But at least the photos (over 1000 of them) still exist

hub2dee Thu 27-Jan-05 21:26:46

Hi Bear,

As you've found out, Roxio UDF 1.04 support is lacking in OS X. What you might find works, though, is to close the multisession CD-RW (ie. finalise it) on a PC, and I think your CD-RWs may then be OS X readble.

HTH, and will you post if it works ?

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