Don’t Lose Your Family Vacation Photos!

Ponte Vecchio Overlooking the Arno River

Ponte Vecchio Overlooking the Arno River

In May 2009, we (Rolle, My Mama, Her Friend, & Me) went on a 17 day European Vacation. We started out in London, stayed there for four days then we hired a car to take us to Southampton for the start of our 11-day Mediterranean cruise. The ports of call on the cruise were (in this order) Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Gibraltar, UK; Cagliari, Sardinia; Rome, Italy; Pisa & Florence, Italy; Villafranche & Cannes, France; Barcelona, Spain; which is where we disembarked and spent an additional 3 days. During this vacation, I took over 1500 photos, and 300 plus video clips. Just to be “safe” I downloaded the photos at the end of every day to my laptop. The plan was to make informative 3 – 4 minute video postcards for each destination.

When we got home, I put some photos on Facebook, but just a few teaser shots, as I wanted to save the best for my videos. Then one day, the weirdest thing happened, I went to turn on my 10-month new MacBook Pro, and I got this flashing folder symbol, and my computer wouldn’t boot up. After calling Apple Care and going through all of the troubleshooting, I was told I would need to take it into a Mac Store. Since I’m currently residing in Saudi Arabia, I decided to wait until I returned back to the states in November. Up until that time, I tried not to think about my computer. Because every time I did, I felt somewhat nauseous. Immediately upon arrival in the states, that same day, about 3 hours after landing, I take it to the Apple store. They tell me the dreaded words that I was hoping for the past two months I would not hear, “Your hard drive has to be replaced.” ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that’s me screaming)

They replaced the hard drive, and the ethernet port (this also had died about 2 days before the hard drive), and gave me back the computer along with the damaged hard drive. Being the optimist that I am, I still thought there was some hope. They gave me a card and told me to call Drive Savers. The Apple Genius told me, “They may be able to forensically remove the data, but it will be expensive.” Well what’s considered “expensive?” It’s all relative, right? So, I make the call.

Of course, they cannot give me a quote over the phone. They need to see the hard drive. So, they send me a box to send them the hard drive, and if they were unable to retrieve the data they would send it back at no cost me. I send it in. The next day, I receive a call. The quote I received was a range from $1700 – $2400. Sh*t!! That is expensive. After a few conversations back and forth (over a few days), they offered a price of $1000. I felt desperate, and I was willing to pay $1000.00 to get my stuff off of this hard drive. I told them the photos were the most important thing. About a week goes by, and I receive the dreaded phone call that they could not recover anything. I was pretty much devastated all-over again. Because, even though I was trying not to get my hopes up, inside I was hoping.

The only photos I have from this vacation are the few (about 10 – 20 pics per city) are on FB (Facebook). And since I had uploaded them to FB, they are so compressed that I couldn’t pull them off to make a slide show because it would look horrible. The obvious lesson here is to back up your photos!! So now I back up my photos to an external hard drive and I upload to Dropbox. It doesn’t matter if you have a new computer. Trust me after saving, and spending dang near $2500 for my Mac, to have the hard drive crash beyond repair at 10 months in, is horrible. I would have never thought it. The obvious lesson from this tragic story is to backup your photos.

Following is one of only two photos that I have from being at the Cannes Film Festival:

Terri and Rolle at Cannes Film Festival

Terri and Rolle at Cannes Film Festival

Below are links to the few photos I have from this vacation.

London, England:


Vigo, Spain:

Lisbon, Portugal:

Gibraltar, UK:
BTW:  Crusing into Gibraltar was awesome, we saw the northern coast of Africa and a pod of dolphins.  This stop was a pleasant surprise.

Cagliari, Sardinia:

Rome, Italy: We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Rome:

Pisa & Florence, Italy:

Barcelona, Spain:

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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. Really terrible. I had similar problems some years ago, so I upload my photos on external sites now. The same with the post. I don’t have it in my PC more. So, PC+CD+external photo galeries -I hope it will protect me from the problems.

    • Thanks Liudmila for stopping by. I didn’t consider the external websites. Maybe I should investigate that more. I ruled them out due to file size. But…

  2. I feel so bad for you. As an avid photographer myself, I know how important it is to capture and keep your memories. My advice- and this may get expensive but worth it- is to buy a lot of memory cards that you will use in your still and video cameras. Rather than reformat the card after each upload, put that card away and never use it again. Not only can you guarantee that those photos will be there, you will also have the photos available in high res anytime someone may want a print. I’ve also found doing this a good way to go back later and maybe find a photo gem that I overlooked.
    I did this for my trip to Italy in June and I’m still finding photos that I forgot I had.

    • Thanks Hart. That’s a good idea. Right now I’m just backing up to an external hard drive, and for the ones I call keepers, I’m burning to CD. But, I think when I go on vacation, I may just purchase memory cards specifically for that trip and never erase them. I’ll just file them away.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog.

      Safe Travels!!

  3. What a good post! I just wish I had read it before my last vacation where I accidentally deleted the first 2 1/2 days worth of photos and videos as I was trying to make room for more by deleting pictures fro a previous vacation. However, we learn from our mistakes. I have an external hard drive that I can use and can also purchase more memory cards if needed. I already have 2.

    • Thank U!! I wish I had known it was possible for my 10 month mac to crash the way it did. I guess any harddrive could crash but… Regardless it’s heart breaking. I know have a serious external drive that I store all my vacation photos and videos, and that’s not fool proof. I think the only way to keep them safe is to burn to CD’s and store thoese someplace else.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog!!

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