I got everything off the hard drive that I could get, which was about 80% of my photographs. The crash spared most of the older data, while toasting many of the newer images. Ironically and tragically, all of those older images were backed up to DVDs. Not so with the newer ones.
So what lessons did I learn?
- R-Studio does a pretty good job retrieving data off damaged drives. It’s a long process, though. I think I spent about 20-30 hours scanning drives, recovering files, sifting through broken files , and reconstructing the directory structure I like.
- R-Studio and other similar applications won’t work on network attached storage devices. They’re actually computers (usually running Linux). Apparently there is no way to recover a network attached hard drive, which is pretty lousy.
- Don’t chain together multiple external hard drives.
- Make physical backups of really important data. Using a second hard drive is not good enough. Using a service like Mozy is probably even better (as long as they don’t go out of business).
- I can’t prove it, but I think that using the media server on the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini recovered poorly after the power failure on the attached disk, taking all of the data with it.
- LaCie’s tech support seemed thoroughly incurious when it came to what might have caused the drive to fail.
- Image and audio import software should be as fault-tolerant when reading files as possible.
I’ve had my moment(s) of anger about the situation, but now I’m moving on.
 Some of the files were actually copies of deleted images, which contained nothing but garbage. I was going to say that it’s basically like dereferencing a freed pointer, but that’s a bit geeky.