I’m writing this blog post not only to educate, as I try to do with most of my posts, but also to alert the community and hopefully affect some change. If you have a Windows Phone that supports high-resolution photography (Lumia 1020, Icon), please keep reading.
Last night my wife decided to plug her new Lumia Icon in to our home PC. As many of you know, when you do this with a Windows Phone 8 device, you get the awesome experience of being able to traverse the phone with Windows Explorer. She was doing this to pull all her photos off the phone to continue work on the digital scrapbook she pours hours in to creating for our family each year.
Upon seeing the _Pro and _Pro__highres images on her phone, she naturally thought “well, I don’t need those low resolution images chewing up space on my phone.”
So she deleted them.
Let me be clear, there are plenty of posts on the web about clearing out the high resolution images from your phone to save space, but none (that I’ve found) that highlight the dangers of doing the reverse.
Upon doing this, my wife lost the high resolution versions of the low resolution images she deleted. In other words, she lost all her photos.
Now, she’s coming from iPhone and this is her first Windows Phone – in support of me – so you can imagine the litany of profanity that showered “this stupid Windows Phone”.
I dug in.
Her phone was set up with the 5mp + 16mp JPEG setting in the camera. So I set my Lumia Icon to the same. I then took a photo and plugged my phone in to my laptop. I copied the low and high-res images to my PC to be safe. Then I deleted the low res image on the phone’s camera roll. Boom. Both files gone. Just like that.
This is not a fluke. This will happen to you, too.
Why does it do this? I have no idea. Does it make sense? Certainly not to me, and certainly not to an average user – regardless of the explanation, I guarantee my wife won’t care one bit about it.
Now the up side to this is that Microsoft’s somewhat recent decision to back up high-resolution imagery to OneDrive saved my (her) ass here. All her photos, the high-resolution variants, were on OneDrive. My bacon was saved. I wasn’t sent to the dog house.
But it was close.
In closing, I’ll tell my readers that might find themselves wanting to do this the same thing I told my wife – don’t mess with the source of truth when it comes to irreplaceable information like your photographs. Instead, copy them all to your computer, and do the weeding out there. Then if – and only if – things are all good, clear out your phone completely if it’s space you’re after.