I have two shocking things to tell you.
1.) I take a lot of pictures, and
2.) You have never electronically deleted anything in your life ever.
I have dozens of anal-retentive ways of archiving all my photos, but my be-all, end-all super easy, every image sorted by holiday, client, event, nature trip, "get to it in 3o seconds or less" system is on an external hard drive.
Which just died. Hate.
I have other versions of almost everything on backup CDs, in the archive at work, on two different online services and in a safety deposit box. However, there are a several dozen images that I am particularly fond of that weren't backed up on anything but the backup drive. And I want them back.
I WANT THEM BACK. BAAAACK.
It costs upwards of $700 to have a data recovery service restore the drive. I thought briefly about putting out a message on Craiglist- free wedding photography for any Western Digital Data Recovery Partner employee willing to quietly restore my drive in their cubicle. $700 isn't not worth it for the 150 photos I want to get back. BAAAACK.
So I bought an affordable data recovery program. It found- I am not making this up- 93,680 photos. It renames them as it restores them, so I have no way of knowing which image is which, nor can I search for files with helpful terms like "Life in Stepford." If I look at 100 images a day, it will take me 3 years just to LOOK at them all. It also found every image I have ever clicked on online, every AOL news story photo, every flickr image, every blogger profile photo, every forward/back button on a website that was made from an image of an arrow that was created in PhotoShop. EVERYTHING. EVER.
I am sort of clicking around at random, hoping to hit paydirt or find a method to the madness of chronology to the files. But this program restored a picture of my chiropractor's newborn baby. Kid starts pre-K on Tuesday.
In short, none of us have never deleted anything permanently ever, and I have shot over 600 GB worth of pictures. That's like 1.21 jiggawatts in photo terms. My laptop? Is Doc Brown's DeLorian.
"They found me. I don't know how, but they found me. Run for it, Marty!"