The great Alex Lindsay once said of data backups that "if it doesn't exist in three places, it doesn't exist". I have embraced those words, becoming very diligent about my backups. Last night, however, all of that went out the window, as I hit the trifecta of utter blinkard stupidity.
First Movement: The Best Laid Plans
The goal was to setup Swinsian with its own music library. Two days earlier I had made a full backup of my iTunes library, placing it on a bare hard drive that I would place in a drawer. Since my setup of Swinsian would be, in effect, a backup of my iTunes library, I felt confident in deleting that full backup to prepare for the new library.
Second Movement: Allegro Con Idioto
I started Swinsian and told it to create the new library on that newly vacated HD. Then, as I was prepared to tell it to import my files, I saw the option to import my library. Brilliant! In one fell swoop it would take my iTunes library, copy it to the HD, and bring along all the playlists. Awesome!
After seeing everything inside Swinsian as I had hoped it would be, I noticed how quickly it went. Clearly nothing had been moved to the HD. I thus decided to clear out what it had said was imported and start fresh. Out of a sudden fit of inexplicable brain power, I thought it best to double-check my iTunes library. Sure enough, I had managed to take everything and dump it into the Trash. Luckily I hadn't yet emptied the Trash, so I stopped in my tracks and took a deep breath.
Third Movement: Iceberg!
Section 1: No Help From El Capitan
One of the many joyous wonders of the Mac OS is the Finder's Put Back feature. If you accidentally send a file to the Trash, you can open the Trash and choose Put Back to have it recovered in the exact spot where it had been before. Awesome feature, right?
Well, it would have been, had it worked. I opened the Trash, selected a group of files and hit Command-Delete. To my dismay, all I got was an error beep. I tried the Finder menu. Put Back was gray. I tried the contextual menu. It didn't appear there at all! Lovely.
Figuring that I would have to drag-and-drop all those files from the Trash back into a Finder folder, I created a new folder, selected all 34,000 files from the Trash, and dragged them to that folder. That process took about a full minute, as the OS had a hard time dealing with that many files.
A couple of minutes later I heard the Process Complete beep. That was fast! I checked the new folder. Only 5,200 files were moved. Huh? That's weird. I tried again, and again only 5,200 files came over. Third time? Same result.
That's when things got really weird. No mater how many files I selected, the OS would move successively fewer files. I selected 400 and it moved 73. I selected 100 files and it moved 21. Select 30, move 12. On it went until it would only move two files at a time. I still had 20,000 files to move! There had to be a better way.
Then I remembered the Copy feature. I created a new folder on the Desktop, selected a group of files from the Trash, clicked Copy, went to the new folder, and was again dismayed because the Paste feature was not available in any form. Disgusted, I closed the folder and Command-Deleted it into the Trash.
Section 2: Force Of Habit Can Be A Real Bastard
I'm pretty good about keeping my Trash empty. Always have been. I don't like old files hanging around in there, needlessly taking up space. I Command-Delete something to the Trash, then hit Command-Shift-Delete to empty the Trash.
You can see where I'm going with this, right? In my disgust about the OS's inability to use its own Copy feature, I hastily slammed the folder in the Trash and hit Command-Shift-Delete to empty it. As soon as I saw the Emptying Trash box, I clicked Cancel. It said "stopping", but I watched in horror as the Available Space reading on the iTunes drive kept increasing. I just deleted about two-third of the music in my library.
Section 3: Shock And Awful
I just sat there, stunned at all that I had managed to do. Stunned at how badly I had just screwed myself. I, a tech pro for so long, had somehow managed to violate so many of the sacred rules of IT and screw the proverbial pooch very, very badly. Not only that, but I had lost the majority of the music library I had so carefully and painstakingly built up over the course of 15 years. Yes, I could get most of it back through conventional means, but there was a ton that I digitized myself from vinyl and cassettes; stuff that I can never get back. I know it's only music, but I'm a musician. Music is very, very important to me.
And don't even get me started about tagging! I have been meticulous with my tagging. I change artist names to Lastname, Firstname. I add groupings and comments. I spend the time to make sure each track is represented as accurately as possible. Much (or most) of that I will likely not be able to get back.
Having used Data Rescue 3 in the past with great results, I decided to plunk down the $99 and get version 4. This morning I started it up and had it scan the HD that used to have the full iTunes backup on it. I figured that since it was unused since the deletion, it would be the best candidate for recovery. It needs >12 hours to scan the disk. Can't tell you how anxious I am to see if it works!