Transferring your images from the camera to the computer is one of the most critical yet often one of the least examined stages of your workflow. It's critical because at this stage, your images exist only on the camera media. Compact Flash, Secure Digital, and microdrives aren't dramatically more fragile than other storage media, but at this stage there's only one copy! Losing previews or camera raw settings is irritating, but you can redo the work. If you make mistakes during ingestion, though, you can lose entire images.
The following ground rules have thus far prevented us from losing even a single image.
Following these rules takes a little additional time up front, but much less than a reshoot (assuming that lost images can in fact be reshot).
Tip: When Disaster Strikes
If you wind up with a card that's unreadable but contains data you want to recover (it's rare, but it can be caused by doing things like pulling the card out of the reader without first ejecting it in software), do not format it! Doing so will guarantee that any data that was still on the card will be permanently consigned to the bitbucket. Major CF card vendors such as SanDisk and Lexar include data-recovery software with the cards. Before attempting anything else, try the recovery software. If that fails, and the data is truly irreplaceable, several companies offer data recovery from CF cards, usually at a fairly hefty pricea Google search for "Compact Flash Data Recovery" will turn up all the major players.