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Common Causes of Photo Corruption and File Damage

Photo and File corruption is one of the most common recovery cases for home users


Data corruption is a fairly common problem for computer users. Any file can become corrupt due to operating system or software issues, but image file corruption is especially common and problematic.

When an image is corrupt, it may not open. If it does open, it may show gray bars, black bars or random colors over some part of the picture. Obviously, any amount of corruption is unacceptable, especially for professional photographers and graphic designers.

Corruption occurs when a computer cannot successfully read or write to a file. The computer may start to write data, only to suddenly stop due to a system crash or programs hang. If your desktop or laptop computer's hard drive has read/write head issues, you might suddenly discover a number of corrupt images.

Depending on the software that you use to access and edit your images, you might see corruption manifest in a number of ways. Some programs return file corruption errors, while others will not detect a problem with the source file.

Preventing Image File Corruption

There are a few ways to decrease the chances of file loss, damage and corruption. However, you should always remember to back up your image files regularly. This is the only way to completely protect yourself against data loss.

Remember the following when working with images on your personal computer:

- Always give the system time to complete tasks. If your computer is taking an abnormally long time to save an image or apply a certain filter, resist the urge to use Ctrl + Alt + Del or a similar command to shut down the offending program. If your image manipulation software hangs regularly, back up your files onto an external hard drive or USB drive and re-install your software.

- Make sure that your computer has a consistent power supply. Invest in a battery backup with a surge protector. Always keep your laptop charged and plugged into a protected, grounded outlet. Corruption can occur when your computer shuts down unexpectedly, and you can decrease the chances of image issues substantially by planning ahead.

- Keep your image files in several physical locations. Data corruption can affect all of the files on your hard drive, not just files in a particular folder or partition. Consider using an online backup program to back up your files if you work with a large number of images.

- Pay attention to your PC. If you hear clicking sounds or if you regularly experience blue screen errors, overheating or other problems, investigate the issue and replace any damaged hardware.

- Never work with files directly on your camera card or camera. Copy these images to your PC before opening them. Instead of cutting and pasting your images, copy them to your desktop and check that they open correctly before deleting them from your camera or memory card.

Even if you diligently back up your data, you may eventually experience image file corruption. When this occurs, you should immediately shut down your hard drive.

Steps to Take After Image Corruption Occurs

Never attempt to recover your own data unless you are prepared to permanently lose access to your image files. Commercial data recovery programs can overwrite your data if used incorrectly, and the safest way to ensure a complete recovery is to contact a professional data recovery and file repair company.

At Secure Data Recovery Services, we recover millions of image files each year. Our engineers have experience with all imaging programs and file types, and we are always ready to help our customers recover from logical and physical file loss issues. To set up a free media evaluation, contact us today.

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