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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Photographer’s Loss Could Have Been Avoided

We talk often here about having a disaster recovery plan. No one ever thinks it will happen to them, and then all too often it does.

The unfortunate story of Randy Taylor is one that could have been avoided. Taylor is a professional photographer who has worked for a wide variety of clients, from Cambridge University to Nissan to Microsoft and even Nikon.

But according to recent stories that have emerged, no photographs were more important to him than those of his family, photographs that had been passed down to him thanks in part to his interest in photography. He had become the de facto genealogical archivist in his family, and he kept those photos and records in file cabinets that were held in a public storage facility.

You probably know how this sad story ends. Superstorm Sandy hit some 14 months ago in the area where Taylor’s precious photos and records were stored. Those file cabinets held not just his photos, but financial records, equipment and more.

records management supertsorm sandy

Sandy left plenty of damage in her wake. Photo by Yiratliff.

Many of us have storage units containing old furniture and keepsakes, but this was a different occurrence – this was his life’s work. He couldn’t get into his storage unit for weeks as the damage was cleaned up, and when he finally gained access he learned that most of it was destroyed by water damage and mold from the storm.

In all, he had about 30,000 images, according to reports, spanning 40 years of work.

“I descended into the smelly, wet, and dark bowels of the powerless building, which had flooded floor-to-ceiling with contaminated water,” Taylor told Huffington Post. “What I found was a jumbled, gooey mess of papers and things 3 to 8 feet high. It took the first day to carve out a vertical space just 2 feet into the unit, so I could merely walk in the door.”

It’s horrifying and sad, and yet Taylor has managed to make a bit of lemonade; some of his striking photography was altered by the water in ways which turned them into unique works of art, as the colors created interesting patterns in the photos.

But the point here for The Data Vault’s audience is that this doesn’t need to happen. Taylor could have stored his precious photography and records with a professional records management company and likely been spared this loss. He could have hired such a company to scan those photos, ensuring he would have digital copies forever.

This is what often gets lost in what so many feel is a part of any operation that can be taken care of later – you can never predict when disaster will strike. If we could, we’d be prepared for it and it would be less of a disaster.

Is your business prepared? Sure, it may not be a “superstorm,” but if you are storing your critical files in a less than secure manner – from public storage to your own garage – you are risking a lot. And, as Taylor learned the hard way, you may be risking a lot more than you know.

Scan those critical files. Store them safely and securely in a facility that is designed to withstand disaster. It’s easy and affordable. And if you do it now, you’ll never have to live with the regret that might happen if you put it off one more day.

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