Knowing the location of the files I needed from the dead drive, I brought it to a local computer shop and left for IMS2014. The technician didn't know where the files resided, but I gave him the path. When I returned, he had retrieved the files and copied them to an external drive.
The path where iTunes stores mobile device backups on Windows XP.
I copied the recovered files into their proper location on the computer with the broken hinge. I also backed up her phone, with the corrupted address book, to the 80GB drive and copied those files to an external drive. I then restored her phone with the recovered files from the broken-hinge computer. Her contacts were back, but the story goes on. You see, her phone was restored to the last backup, which was April 6. All photos after that date were no longer there.
She was happy that I restored her address book, but not about losing some photos. Before restoring, I should have copied the photos to the external drive. Now, she's convinced that whenever Daddy touches her phone, something will go wrong. I did have a backup of her phone after the address book was corrupted that had the later photos, but the only way to recover them was to restore a phone from that backup and copy the images. Why? Because iTunes backup files are in that crazy unreadable format.
At this point I didn't dare ask for her phone again. Besides, do you know how hard it is to pry a phone from a teenager? It's like asking to cut off an arm or a leg. You can’t do it. I needed an alternative. "I know," I thought. "I'll restore using my work iPhone. It doesn't have much data on it. I'll just back it up to my work computer and restore it back to that state later." But, my work iPhone is the 8 GB model and the personal phones are 16 GB. I had to use my personal phone. So, I backed it up and copied the backup files to the external drive, then restored my phone using her backup. After about an hour, I had a copy of her backup on my phone. I copied the photos to the external drive and backed them up to the second external drive. I then restored my phone, at 2:30 a.m.
As of now, I haven't copied her photos taken after April 6 to her phone. That's because I would have to pry her phone away again. But wait, she leaves for camp in a few days and phones aren't allowed, so I'll have free access to it.
This story isn't quite over. Oh, no. Remember how I backed up my phone before restoring her backup to it? Well, when I restored my phone, a few recent photos were lost. One had what could have been critical information. You see I was rear-ended on June 5 and took a photo of the other driver's license. Fortunately, my old Toyota was undamaged and no one was hurt. Otherwise, I would have had a real problem.
Bottom line: You can never have too many backups. If you take a picture with important information on it, immediately e-mail it to yourself. Don't even wait to get home and copy the photo.
Now I had to come up with a way to back up address books. To do that, I synchronize them to Gmail contacts. That's a story in itself. I have had no luck with iCloud. I'll discuss that in the comments.
Everyone has at least one horror story about data backups. What's yours?