If you're a Mac user, stop what you're doing and download this. I'm serious. Digital asset management (DAM) isn't everyone's favorite topic but it's an incredibly important part of any professional's workflow. But when things go south, you need to have a recovery plan — that's where PhotoRec, the free text-based app by CG Security, comes in.
We've all been there: files get corrupted, you forget to import a second card before formatting, drives fail, catalogs crash. It's a nightmare. However, as the tech junkies know, when a file is ostensibly deleted it's not actually, physically erased. Rather, the space it occupies is marked as available and allowed to be overwritten (something important to keep in mind if you're selling or disposing of drives and media that used to hold sensitive media). PhotoRec and other services like it take advantage of this fact and can scrub your disk or card for all the files that haven't been overwritten.
Scenario 1: Someone (read significant other, model, etc.) deletes a picture he or she doesn't like.
Scenario 2: You (read me, Austin Rogers), being the genius you are, format a CF card you were positive you imported after the last shoot.
Scenario 3: After a long day of shooting you go to import your pictures just to find the card is corrupted, and because you're on a 5DII you didn't back up to a second card.
Any of these three will bum you out, two of them might ruin your day, and one of them might lose you a client. But don't freak out — there's a recourse.
- Head over to the PhotoRec Wiki site and download the latest version.
- Open up the Unix Executable File labeled "photorec" in the downloaded folder.
- This will launch a terminal window — don't worry, non-nerds, it's not nearly as scary as it may look.
- Enter your account password and press enter.
- Select the disk to search (typically identifiable by the size of the disk (i.e. 64 GB, 32 GB, 16 GB, not the big drives) and press enter.
- Select the partition (or whole disk) you'd like to search and press enter.
- Select a destination and press the "c" key.
- Sit back, relax, and let PhotoRec go to work.
PhotoRec is a speedy little app, it'll chew through my 32GB CF card in about 20 minutes (via an old USB 2.0 reader). It is also very effective, grabbing over 400 file types (in 200+ file families) including all the important ones: NEF, CR2, etc. (there's a full list of file types here).
Even if you don't need it now, and don't plan on making a dumb mistake — download PhotoRec. Save it to your desktop, put it in your Dropbox or Google Drive, email it to yourself, burn it to a disk, throw it on a USB. Keep it just in case. It's gotten me out of a pinch before, it may be able to do the same for you.
You have now entered the No Shame Zone. What's your worst / stupidest DAM mistake? I'll start off with mine in the comments.