Two is One and One is None

I come to you today to warn you about hard drive corruption. Backup your data. Save yourself the headache, heartache, and wallet-ache that comes with trying to save corrupt data.

Back in April-May, I bought a 5TB external drive and began recording most all of my gameplay. I’ve wanted to build a collection of footage I could use for video projects and reference. After years of capturing guide footage and having to delete it for space, I really wanted to try and start keeping it.

I captured all of my Death Stranding play time and all of The Last of Us Part II. I had some Call of Duty matches, Persona 5, and test footage from my Super NT and GameCube. So far, this had amounted to between 2.5-3 TBs of footage.

Then last weekend I was brainstorming a video idea. I plugged the drive in to transfer new footage and everything was gone. This happened to another drive of mine roughly two months ago, an external SSD, but I had a backup of it through Backblaze. I did not have a backup of the game footage because of its size. I knew the upload would take ages. I completely regret that logic.

I tried using First Aid in Disk Utility on my Macbook. It found out there was corruption. I booted into recovery mode like Disk Utility recommended, but it wasn’t running recovery on the drive. I couldn’t solve it. So I turned to third party software.

I picked Wondershare Recoverit that would scan for free and then I could chose to pay $80 to recover if it found anything. After 12 hours of scanning, it found 2.13 TB of data. I went to preview a file and it prompted for payment with no option to just back out and keep looking at what it actually found. The payment screen showed three tiers, which I was not aware of. There was the basic tier for with the $80 price tag I was expecting. Then there was the top tier that included “advanced video recovery” for $160 lifetime license. I talked to Abby and we decided it’d be okay to go for. After seven hours of moving the data to another drive, everything should have been saved.

Unfortunately, almost every single file was still corrupt. The bits were there, but unplayable in video software. Advanced video recovery required a completely different scan of the drive.

After 28 more hours of scanning and copying to another drive, the software found 12 “recoverable” video files. Once again, unplayable. The “advanced video recovery” seems to just have the files capable of being recovered. Don’t worry, Wondershare sells video recovery software just for that purpose. It was here when I finally gave up. I kept the functioning files (plus all of the footage from The Last of Us Part II, just in case).

I’ve (mostly) accepted my loss. I have definitely learned my lesson. I immediately backed up some essential work video files to four different locations. And now I have begun the long process of backing up my gameplay footage. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Always have a backup.