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Author Topic: Backing up your photos  (Read 9932 times)

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« on: May 09, 2006, 04:12 »
What do you all use to backup your photos.

I have been using an external lacie drive so far.  I have two of them now and put on copy on there, and burn on to a dvd.  I have heard a fair bit of talk in another forum however of how unreliable lacie drives have been for some people.  I haven't had any problems myself though.

So, I end up having 2 copies of my files, which i think SHOULD be sufficient, however they are both in my house which is not a good plan (it is better to store one in another location.)  some people however have three copies minimum.

« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2006, 04:27 »
I dont think DVD are reliable for a long term solution either

What is a lacie drive??

Ideally one should be stored off site but that is difficult as it makes it an inconvience to back up to.

I am currently working out what I will do but it will be a combination of laptop, external harddrive and DVD.  As some stage, multiply external drives and when I final return to NZ (my "home" even though I am working in London) I will keep a external at my parents as well.

« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2006, 04:38 »
lacie is just a brand name.
They make external computer parts, like screens, and hard drives and such.  Their screens are fairly well thought of.

yeah, i have heard that dvd's are unstable, that they will loose their data after X amount of years, but they are still better than nothing by far.  I find it a bit of a pain burning the dvd's as they don't hold that many photos.  I would rather just burn my photos on numerous external drives, but i suppose this won't happen until that is cheaper.

Maybe burning on internal drives, and then just taking it out of the computer when it is full and putting it somewhere safe 'just in case'

« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2006, 05:13 »
If you want to do that, I think you can get shells that are external that you can slip internal drives into.  That way it would be easier to swap rather than having to open up your case.

« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2006, 05:21 »
I have my photos in three places:

- The original is on an internal drive

- The first backup copy is on another internal drive

- The second backup copy is on an external drive which is stored in a media fire safe (which is different from a paper fire safe) in the garage

FYI: I used to do CDs, and then DVDs, but they are too much of a pain and they don't last as long (for archival purposes)

« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2006, 06:09 »
yeah i was thinking a fire safe would be good, but what is the differance between media fire safe and paper fire safe?  I suppose there are differant temperatur specifications..

« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2006, 08:08 »
Yes, there are different temperature specs.

Paper burns around 420 degrees.

Computer media starts to degrade (melt or burn) around 125 or 150 degrees.

« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2006, 08:21 »
well that is good to know. I may have forked over the $$ for a fire proof safe that would have let my dvds melt :S

« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2006, 11:02 »
I use an external drive, and sync it up about 1 a week.  Then I burn DVDs and keep them off site, (work, friends house, etc).  That way I don't need to get a fire safe, although I probably will soon since I'm just starting to build a house.  I want a closet safe.


« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2006, 11:51 »
As a side business, I run a small company that deals in computer parts and such.  I have found that external harddrives are very popular and very reliable - and cheap as well.  I think the prices have dropped dramatically - I haven't placed much emphasis on this business as I'm in school and working full-time at the University I'm studying at (in the summer I work), so I don't have updated prices...but the last I saw a harddrive here was $90 CDN for 160 GB (I believe thats internal).  Thats a LOT of picture taking and you could theoretically get an external for not much more.  It all depends on what you are aiming for.

As for DVDs I've heard this and I'm geting curious.  Whats the lifespan then, of a DVD?

« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2006, 11:53 »
well just going of what i 'think i heard'.. i wonder if it wasn't around 80 years or so.. if kept in a nice place with low heat and no sun.

but then of course the 'professionals' can only make educated guesses as dvds haven't been around that long.

how about those blue ray disks though? they would be a nice addition to burn to.

« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2006, 12:18 »
Oh yes, I've been hoping that Blu-Ray wins the format war.  When you have 80 GB of pictures being able to burn two Blu-Ray disks is so much more appealing than 20 standard DVDs.  I can't even imagine burning CDs. 

DVDs are supposed to last around 100 years as shown by aging simulations, but they are only simulations.  DVD media varies drastically just like CDs.  Most people buy the cheapest disks around and one of the major problems is reliability and longevity.  The cheap disks will last a around 3 years which is fine for 90% of all uses.  Here is a site you can read
As the link mentions, they usually only rate the dye.  Which does probably last around 100 years.  The problem is the disk itself begins to degrade or delaminate and becomes ruined long before the dye does.  That is completely dependent upon the manufacturing technique used and how you handle them. 

From a practical stand point, do you really think you'll be using DVD in 50 years or even 10 years, I seriously doubt it.  Look back tens years and see how backup has changed.  You can assume similiar improvements will continue to be made.  One being on the horizon, blue-ray vs HD-DVD.  In my point of view as long as I think it will last 5 years, I'm happy with it.  Because more than likely I will have changed my method by then and have it backed up on a different media.


« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2006, 12:23 »
well you do have a point there, with the technology part of it.  in another 5-10 years there will be disks or something that probably will be able to hold over 100gb.. it wouldn't take too many of those to back up all my photos... and as such there is a good chance i would move it all onto the 'new' media

« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2006, 20:54 »
From a practical stand point, do you really think you'll be using DVD in 50 years or even 10 years, I seriously doubt it. Look back tens years and see how backup has changed.

That is one of the reasons that I have switched to hard drives as my backup media.  HDs have been around for a long time, and will last a long time as well.  There is less of a probability that I will have to switch media every few years.  Plus they are very fast.

« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2006, 02:57 »
The biggest risk with longterm storage with external harddrives is that a new connector other than USB2 will be used, meaning you wont be able to plug it in.

Image if you found a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk.  how . would you access it.  Even 3 1/2 inch drives aren't standard on computers anymore.  How long will disk players be back compatible with CD's, and once blu-ray comes out, DVD's (dont blu-ray come surrounded in a catridge to protect the disk?)

« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2006, 03:43 »
i have never heard of thesurrounding thing on a blue ray disk, but that would definatly be a good idea. Not sure why cd's and dvds don't have that.  We keep them in cases anyhow, we may as well have a permanent case around it.

« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2006, 04:27 »
I have done a little reading.

Blue ray once needed the 'caddie' plastic cover thing, because their disks were so fragile.  That made them unattractive because of the higher price and more difficult to use.  HD-DVD their competitor didn't need these caddies.  Blue ray, now however has a new coating on their disk so they are more durable than cd's, dvd's or their competitor HD-DVD.  here is the info on wikipedia i read

Wikipedia Blue Ray

they also mention capacities of up to 200GB in the coming years.  I think DVD's with their 4.7gb storage space will be pretty 'old school' in 5 more years. None the less, I am sitting here copying 18 gigs of photos onto 5 dvd's

« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2006, 04:54 »
The biggest risk with longterm storage with external harddrives is that a new connector other than USB2 will be used, meaning you wont be able to plug it in.

Connectors and buses rarely change. ISA has been around since the early 1980s (over 25 years). SCSI has been around since the mid 1980s (over 20 years). I expect USB to be around for at least that long. And in 10 or 20 years, when I need a new hard disk because the bus has changed, I will probably be buying a 10 terabyte model for $10!

Other media is really the problem. Since I have been backing up data (over the past decade or so), I have used Colorado Tape (200 MB), DAT (4 GB), CDs (650-700 MB), and finally DVDs (4.7 GB). I finally got tired of switching technology and went to the most stable, fastest, and most reliable thing out there: disk (200 GB).

D2D (disk to disk) is the latest in backup technology at the enterprise level. It is replacing (or augmenting) D2T (disk to tape) at many institutions.

For storage, you just can't beat hard disks.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2006, 05:09 by GeoPappas »

« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2006, 05:42 »
is your disk a internal or external hard drive?

« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2006, 06:37 »
is your disk a internal or external hard drive?

I have two internals (the main and one backup), and one external (a second backup that is stored in a media fire safe).

« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2006, 06:42 »
are the two internal drives mirrored (whatever that means) I heave heard about that but never totally understood it.. or wondered if it would make things go slower if a drives copies everything all the time from another drive.. which also makes me wonder about viruses.. if it copies everything won't the virus be on the mirrored drive as well?  And what do you plan on doing when your hard drives fill up.

« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2006, 09:47 »
No, my internal drives are not mirrored.  I had considered it, but mirroring can be expensive.  Mirroring basically synchronizes everything in real-time.  I don't need everything synchronized (like the O/S or programs), just my data.  I figure that I can always reload the O/S and programs if I need to.  It might be a pain, but it can be done.  Whereas, if I lose my data, it is gone for good.  So I have synchronization software (SyncBackSE @ http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/syncback-hub.html) that synchronizes my data files every so often.  For example, I have my data files synchronized every hour (but you can choose any timeframe), but my photos are done once a day (in the wee hours of the morning).  You can set each directory (or set of files) the way that works best for you.

My external drive works the same way, except that it is manually synchronized about once every two weeks.  I would like to do it more often, but time is a big constraint for me.  Basically, I take the external drive out of the safe, hook it up to the USB hub, run the synch process, and then return it to the safe.  The process takes about 5 to 10 minutes to synchronize everything.  FYI: I have about 43 GB of data (which includes documents (Word, Excel, etc), photos (CR2, CRW, JPG, etc), and even video (MPG).  The MPGs take up about 20 GB, and the photos take up another 20 GB (and I have about 13000 photos).  I have 200 GB internal hard drive and 80 GB external hard drive, so I have plenty of space left.

If one of my hard drives ever does fill up, then I will probably just get a larger one.  Hard drive sizes keep increasing every year and they also get cheaper.  I doubt that I will ever take enough photos to outpace hard drive technology.  The 200 GB internal cost me about $65 (after rebates), and my 80 GB external cost me about $55 (after rebates).  Both were purchased last year.  So I got a complete disaster recovery solution for less than $150 (except for the safe which I purchased over 10 years ago).

One thing to consider is that I don't do photography professionally (yet).  If I was, then I might consider moving the external hard disk offsite somewhere (or keeping another copy offsite).
« Last Edit: May 10, 2006, 09:50 by GeoPappas »

« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2006, 09:47 »
Oh you opened up a whole new can of worms leaf. ;) Mirrored drives are as you thought, two hard drives that are an exact copy. If you delete it on one you delete it on the other, if you get a virus on one you get a virus on the other. The only thing it protects against is hard drive failure. If one drives fails you can boot up to the other with out a hitch and be on your way. The advantage is it is real time. Meaning if you backup your data everynight and your drives fails in the middle of the day, you lost a half day of work. With a mirrored drive you don't loose a thing. But GeoPappas mentioned that he has a second external drive. This will protect him against accidental deletions and viruses. He has a great setup.

There are two kinds of mirroring hardware mirroring and software mirroring. When you mirror drives by software it does degrade performance and it doesn't always work. From my experience I wouldn't even bother. Then there is hardware mirroring. That is where on the hard drive controller it mirrors the data automatically and you will see no performance issues. It is much more reliable to. The OS has no idea that it even exists.

Now if you want to get into raid that is a whole other issue.

I missed the conversation on blu-ray but as you mentioned they developed a new coating for it. It is quite impressive and that is one of the many reason besides capacity that I want it to when to war. But the only reason I use media is for fire protection. I don't have a media protected safe so I have to use media and take it off site. Otherwise I would stick with drives only, and I think USB2 is going to be around for a long time. And when it changes I'm sure it will be really easy to transfer it to the new hard drive system.


« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2006, 09:58 »
Has anyone thought about network drives (external).  I beleive you just hook them up to a router and then you could use that to sync.  It could be in another location in the house which gives some protection against theift and depending on the size of the fire/flood/etc, some protection here too (especially if you have an unattached garage or building toyour property.

« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2006, 10:18 »
The network drives are nice and independent of your OS.  The only problem is their price.  They usually run about $1,000 for a low end one.  You can get two drives for $100 each and a hardware mirror controller for $40.  So you can have a hardware mirrored system and external drive for $240.  One thing you could do with a network drive is if you have a wireless lan you could stick it in a neigboring building and have it work seemlessly.  Of course fire is still a problem.  If two buildings are next to each other there is the possibility of the fire spreading from one to the other.  A media fire proof safe sounds better to me.


« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2006, 12:04 »
My external drive is a network drive:

sneaker net  ;)

« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2006, 12:55 »
My bad, I was thinking of a RAID NAS system, not a single drive.  Like

Yes you can get a single network hard drive case for a price similar to external USB cases.


« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2006, 16:40 »
I once had an automatic backup program on my computer that backed it up everynight to another drive.  I had never had a problem but thought.. just in case.

Three months later my computer crashed.  Good thing I had the backup program :)

So i reinstalled all the programs, and got my data back which was nicely backed up.  Installed the backup software.  and all was well.
Three months later my computer crashed.. hmmm..... :(
I havea slight suspision that the freeware backup program was also a freeware virus, which started reaking havok on my system after 3 months.. so that i was ohh so glad to have the software.....

« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2006, 18:10 »
Good story.


« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2006, 22:22 »
At least any photo you have uploaded anywhere has multiple backups.  If you are on five sites, there are five copies, and all of them will probably have several generations of backups.

« Reply #30 on: May 12, 2006, 08:11 »
At least any photo you have uploaded anywhere has multiple backups. If you are on five sites, there are five copies, and all of them will probably have several generations of backups.

Yes, that is true. But what is uploaded is usually not the original file. For example, I shoot RAW, make adjustments, convert to TIFF, make further adjustments, and then convert to JPG for upload.

Plus, you would need to pay for them at their largest size.

« Reply #31 on: May 12, 2006, 08:22 »
Plus, you would need to pay for them at their largest size.

I am sure they would give you a copy for a nominal fee.  I am pretty sure I have seen someone ask before due to their drive failing.

However, the % of my photos actually submitted is a lot less than I take.  I have a lot of personal, non stock orientated photos that are personal momentos from my travels and these while worthless, are more valuable to me than the ones I put on Microstock.   I really do need to sort out a better backup system.

« Reply #32 on: May 12, 2006, 11:10 »
i don't think i would be to comfortable relying on the micros as my backup system.  As geopappas said, having the raw and tiff are rather valuable.  I think i saw on stockxpert however, that you can download your own images for free.

« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2006, 11:24 »
I am planning on buying a second external hard disk.  The one I am looking at is a USB 2.0 320gb drive 7200rpm 8mb buffer.

Is there anything I should be looking for in particular or are they all pretty much the same?

« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2006, 11:39 »
I am planning on buying a second external hard disk. The one I am looking at is a USB 2.0 320gb drive 7200rpm 8mb buffer.

Is there anything I should be looking for in particular or are they all pretty much the same?

When you are buying a drive that will run the OS or will be used as a cache during computation, performance is important.  7200rpm at 8mb buffer is the minimal specs you would want.  But as a backup drive your drive will be writing or reading in constant streams and most of the features don't matter.  So for backup any brand name hard drive will work fine.


« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2006, 11:58 »
Thanks Striker. 

I will be using the HD in the laptop for all work and only backing up on a regular basis to the externals.  As the internal is quite small though, it will not be holding any photo older than say 3-6 months old so these will be replicated on the 2 externals.  I would lilke to do a third offsite copy but that isn't viable at the moment.

« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2006, 12:08 »
having two external usb drives from lacie and one usb drive case, that just holds a regular internal drive, outside the computer.... i would recommend the external case.  It is a cheaper option and when a drive get's full and you are just going to put it on the shelf for storage, you can take it out of the case and put a new one in the case and save $$.


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