Recovering Lost Photos with Toast 9 Titanium
Last month I decided it was time to revamp my iPhoto library, which contains all the new photos I've taken for the last few years, but not many earlier pics, which largely languished unseen on shelves and in boxes.
It was time to put everything in one place and organize it for easy access, which meant importing thousands of photos archived on various CDs and DVDs, as well as scanning all my analog prints and slides. Naturally, I decided to do the easy part first, copying over the CDs and DVDs I'd carefully archived for posterity.
All went smoothly till I came to a CD burned in 2001 that contained only 20 or so pictures, but very important ones, of an exhibition of my sister's artwork. Most of the paintings have since been sold, making rephotographing them impossible. The CD simply would not mount, in any of the two Macs and one PC I tried. I spritzed it with disc cleaner and wiped with a microfiber cloth, to no avail.
I was about to give up (and vowed to make two backups of every photo going forward) when a light bulb went off. I remembered that Toast 9 Titanium has a Disc Recovery feature that is able to grab whatever readable data remains on a damaged CD or DVD. So I fired it up, popped in the offending CD, and voila! ALL the photos were recovered!!
Here's how it works: Start a Disc Copy project in Toast, put in your disc (ignoring any error message about unreadability that may pop up), then check the "Use Disc Recovery" box at lower left. Finally, click the "Save as Disc Image" button at lower right to save the copy to your hard disk. Toast will start reading the data, and copy everything it can. This may take a LONG time (hours) if your disc is severely damaged, and if it has a lot of data, such as a dual-layer DVD, so be patient and just let it work in the background, or overnight.
In my case, since I only had 20 pictures on the CD, the process was quick. A disc image file called Becky Pics.toast was saved to my hard disk, which I could then mount in the Finder by choosing "Mount Disc Image" from the Toast Utilities menu. From the Finder, I then dragged the recovered photos into iPhoto. The salvaged files:
Resurrecting photos from the damaged CD is turning out to be the easy part of the job, however. Scanning and organizing thousands of analog photos is a significantly bigger task! But that's a story for another blog entry.