How do you backup your pictures?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by JohnMetsn, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran


    I'm thinking about a new way how to backup my pictures. Shooting only to RAW and keeping most of the pictures take really a lot of HDD space.

    Right now my setup is notebook + external 1,5 TB WD HDD nearly full, backing up on 50GB blu-rays. This is not ideal, because I tend forget to backup quite commonly, not to mention that Blu-rays are still relatively expensive.

    I was considering some online backup, but that's usually relatively expensive as well for the amount I need, plus I don't feel comfortable to upload my family pictures "somewhere".

    So now I'm considering a few possibilities. Buying another drive and copying those files manually, or setting up some software to do it (or setting it up in RAID 1)...but it's not really an ideal solution for use with notebook.

    I really like the idea of WD MyBook2 Mirror, but buying obsolete USB 2.0 drive doesn't seems to be reasonable, what more from Amazon reviews it looks like quite many ppl have problems with these.

    What is your solution for backing up you huge amount of pictures?

    eM :smile:
  2. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    I still prefer the online backing system - it is crypted anyway, which ensures some degree of privacy, and frankly, I don't care if some guy I never heard of (and never will) gets to look at my grandparents at their table ; and there is a big bonus in knowing that if my entire apartment's contents disappear, those memories are safely locked away on the other side of the planet. I went for Mozy because for €5 a month you get unlimited backup (I'm already over 400 gigs), but depending on whether you're in the US or not etc, there might be better deals. And it's fully automatic, once you've got the parameters right - no need to burn DVDs etc.
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  3. 43hk

    43hk Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2010
    My system is two external fire wire drives. One for aperture libraries, the other holds weekly backups that are retired as the drive becomes full.

    A better system would be to have libraries on disc images and mirror to the second drive. This allows me to distribute backups in different locations for safety and have fast access to current library. Eventually I'll set up a raid system.

    Online sounds like a good idea too.

    Belt and braces wins every time.
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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I have two external drives in addition to my internal. All of my photos and music and videos are stored on a 500 gig usb external and everything is backed up with Time Machine on a 2TB firewire drive.

    AND I pay something like $50 per year for online backup which is updated every night incrementally.

    I figure I'm covered until the end of western civilization. I haven't taken precautions beyond that because I don't figure I'll be around, one way or another...

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  5. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    This is right up my alley... I work in Disaster Recovery and now in development for software in data protection. I could go on for pages and pages (prefer not to) but I am compelled to give just one advice.

    Rule #1, RAID is NOT backup.

    Look up "JournalSpace" and you'll see how RAID can fail to an unrecoverable state.

    As for online backup solutions, you sure they backup and secure your data? Its an expensive proposition (insurance, infrastructure) to run such business. If the service is cheap, then they've definitely cut corners or limit liability.

    Cheap solution I've told my friends....

    1) Buy a HD eSATA drive dock. Look up thermaltak and some good ones on owc computing (
    2) Buy a bunch of internal SATA drives.
    3) Setup a routine to backup your data (Full). Rotating the drives.
    4) Keep one of those drives in rotation at work (off site).

    * Drive dock to minimize insertion wear on the ports of your computer and a bunch of different power blocks.
    * After backup, REMOVE the drive and store it properly.
    * Drive dock allows for cheaper internal sata drives than using a bunch of externals
    * THe minute one drive shows failure (they all do), get rid of it.
    * Keep an eye on sales for new drives.
    * Rotation of several drives means you have several copies to choose from. If corruption hits one, hopefuly you can go back prior to the corruption.
    * One drive offsite.
    * Frequency should be balanced with the number of drives. More frequent the more drives should be in rotation.
    * Less frequent rotation you can probably get away with less drives BUT you will have to accept a certain amount of data loss if recovery is required. (Recovery Point Objective)

    In addition, you can keep a quick and easy onsite image via time capsule or something similar. This is for more frequent backups without hassel. I use time capsule to my Apple Server.
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  6. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    I don't like many online backup services just because of cost of what I'd want to do. Most won't let me point to a network drive or freak out if I switch computers. An S3 based system would be great, but the cost would eventually be an issue for me.

    So what I do for the time being is do a nightly backup to a 2nd drive in my system. It's in quick removable cage. I swap the drive every week or two and keep the one not in use at work. I also had another external drive at home that was backing up as well, but I think I'll drop that.

    When I get to a point where the drive is full or ~1yr has passed, I will replace one drive, archiving the one I replace. This will reduce duplication of data, but I have come to the conclusion I can't have everything all the time, in RAW anyway. I have not come to this point yet, so we'll see how well it works for me.

    On top of this, jpegs all go to smugmug. Generally, I don't really need the RAWs after I am done editing. So it works for me. And I plan on also doing jpeg exports of everything as well locally somewhere for easy sharing in the home and to have an index of all I have shot (this addresses having everything all the time... JPEGs will be a lot smaller and I'll likely always have space for them).
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  7. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran

    Thank you all for an input. I'm still reconsidering, what is the best solution. Which onlinde backup service do you use Ray?

    As for RAID, I agree with you Isayit. But I don't think that JournalSpace case is a good example, as that was simply sabotage from a sleazy ex-employee. But I do know, that if one drive gets corrupted, RAID would just copy corrupted files to another drive and that doesn't really help. But when I use different backup method, I don't really know if those files are not already corrupted either. And it seems that it happens a lot, as I got already plenty of corrupted files from my old HDDs from a desktop computer.
  8. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Yes, I've seen that once. The raid hardware card of a then top of class Proliant somehow shot itself in the foot and physically killed all disks attached. As the company I was working for had on site contract, Compaq tech comes in. As I was the only computer knowledgeable person around, I described the incident as best as I could and suggested that while both disks appeared dead, maybe there was a problem with that RAID card as it was the single point of failure between both. The tech shrugs at my suggestion (my working title was 'corporate lawyer', so obviously he didn't trusted my opinion on these matters - didn't knew I'm a closet bearded unix hacker since before he begun his training) and proceeds on exchanging dead disks with spare drives, switch on, and instantly shoots dead all brand new disks as if he had fired a gun at them... Morality : a couple hundred kilometers back and forth trip for him, some brand new paper weights for us, and a breach of contract for failure to bring the system on line within the contractual maintenance delay.

    But hopefully, we had on site tape backups so there was no real loss of data in the end.
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  9. isabel95

    isabel95 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I have to agree with you...

    I used to burn CDs, and then DVDs and then had external HDs - first USB that SATA...and it was truly a royal pain to keep up with the images.

    I've uploaded images to online galleries, some of which will store originals (though not raw)...and don't upload the originals to them.

    I honestly prefer to looking at my images online rather than hanging on my wall.

    I've made photo books as gifts, but use print very little.

    Carbonite for online storage is what I prefer...but you must remember that if you remove the images from your hard drive, Carbonite will delete them from your storage.


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  10. pdh

    pdh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 6, 2010
    there is a school of thought (rather small I expect) that recognises the ephemeral nature of photographs and never backs them up ...
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  11. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oh one note. a question that many of my friends ask..

    If you should backup in rotation, what is the point of RAID?

    In business continuity, two (among many) concerns:

    1) Recoverability (topic here)
    2) Resiliency from failure.

    #2 is addressed by RAID. Disks do fail (they all do). RAID allows for continued operation even with disk failure. Businesses loss is often measured in hours/minutes. This is also why servers are equipped with redundant power supplies and such.

    #1 is assuming completely operational loss. How fast and how complete can you bring the business back into operation.

    1 and 2 are different topics. For most people #2 is overkill. At least for me, I won't loose $$$ if my system goes down for a few days. However, it is convenient if you are willing to pay for it.
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  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    On DVD and CDRs.... Be aware, they too have life spans (rather short in some cases).
    I have some cheap ones that have become unreadable after a few years.

    I use Delkin/efilm archive golds... burn and mark then with a burn date. I know some will say "snake oil" but so far no problems. I'm still old school.. I still do some backups to magnetic tape but its getting difficult because of the size growth of data. Probably abandoning it soon... if I don't find a cheap outsource for a new tape drive.
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  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I use something called "iDrive" - I've been on it for a few years now with no problems. Other than having to re-backup the whole shebang when I've changed computers or re-formatted a drive. That takes a few days running in the background, but once that's done, the incremental backups start every night at mid-night and are always done when I wake up unless I've had a REALLY heavy day of shooting or just come back from a trip with a lot of images.

    Yeah, same way with the one I use - it incrementally adds files and backs up new versions of files you change, but if you remove a file, they remove it too. I've seen the adverts for Carbonite but was already using iDrive and didn't see any compelling reason to switch. If anyone is aware of any horror stories or has any strong recommendations, I'm always open to learn though...

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  14. isabel95

    isabel95 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sad Lesson about Backup

    Several years ago Sony contacted me about using my pictures at a PMA Convention and asked that I provide them with the original files for printing. In return, along with the honor of being represented, I would be gifted with a brand new Sony 828 camera.

    UNFORTUNATELY, I did not have the original high res files.

    Lesson learned.

    I now save original files of all images I care about.

    HOWEVER, I have discovered that even if I don't have the original file, I can make decent small prints from the relatively tiny jpg images that I've saved or posted in galleries.

    If I want larger images I use Alienskin Blowup and the results are amazingly good.


  15. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Real Name:
    Online backups won't backup from external HDs. Multiple hard drives are best. Firewire, USB3 or the new Thunderbolt are fastest. They are so cheap now there is no excuse not to have your photos on 2 or 3. Bare drives are easy if you have a dock. Also the 2.5 inch drives are getting very cheap, I have gotten 1 TB for less than $100 good for temporary or extra storage in addition to several 3.5" drives. One set should be offsite.

    I have a Drobo with 4 drives and as drives get bigger, I replace a drive and reformat the drive I removed, copy recent photos to it and bring it to my mothers house. I also have several 1, 1.5 and 2 TB drives.

    I originally thought blu-ray backup would be a good idea but hard drives are better. Also you should migrate to a newer media every few years. 10 or 15 years ago zip drives were a common form of back up. 10 or 15 years from now I'm certain solid state drives will have completely taken over and spinning disks will be a thing of the past.
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  16. isabel95

    isabel95 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    About zip drives...

    They faded into the sunset quickly, didn't they.

    We had zip drives with our machines for a while and one day, not realizing that it shouldn't be done, I sat a speaker on a zip drive - big no-no because of magnets in the speaker.

    Killed that drive...and I believe I couldn't access the files on the zip disk either.


  17. Gwendal

    Gwendal Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 6, 2010
    Sorry, but I don't agree on this one - I store my photos on a USB drive (LaCie 1To) and the backup service does work from that drive.
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  18. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    IOmega Zip drives... talk about blast from the past.

    I'm also one of the unfortunate souls to have invested in their Jazz drives. What a royal POS...
  19. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran

    What an interesting and helpful discussion! :smile:

    So I'll forget about WD RAID Mirror and online services as well (as I have only SSD in my laptop, all pictures are on external drive and overall I don't trust online services (I'm a noFB person)).

    I have some dock for my old 3.5 ATA drives, but I never liked the look of it and don't have proper place to store it. I live in a small flat, while on one side of my table is a coffee machine and on the other side babybed. Not sure which side is more dangerous, but basically I need to keep everything in the center of the table, so nice WD Book drives are convenient.

    I guess I'll buy two new WD USB 3.0 1TB drives only for pictures and will copy manually every week new pictures from one drive to another (or do you have some recommendation for a nice sw which will do it for me?). When there will be a bit more money, I'll add another drive then. And will continue to burn Blu-rays time to time...

    PS...pfff zip drives, I still have a few 8-inch floppy disks, those were really cool and fragile...
  20. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England

    Hello Ondrej,

    I'm in agreement with usayit regarding RAID as backup.

    While I install lots of them for studios and even the cable TV station that we take care of, they do fail, often to an unrecoverable state.

    That said. The are awesomely fast for heavy duty every day use, and when operating well they are "self healing". Informing you that a slice is in trouble with enough time to replace the slice.

    ALL of my RAID installs are backed up incrementally to SATA cases, or even hot swappable FW bays.

    This week I' testing several NAS (Network accessible Storage) solutions and currently have two running under test in my office.

    For ease of end user setup, cross platform compatibility, and voluminous storage at reasonable prices this one seems to be leading the pack.

    AFSB, SMB, CFIS, FTP, User login controls, built in 10/100/1000 NIC, and free DNS services provided for remote access via the web, there's more but it'll be on the web link I included in this message.

    I have no "0" tie to Iomega or ANY other brand recommended by myself during professional consult. The reason companies send me their product is because they know I will not recommend based on review, or better still being "gifted". When I'm done, I send them back... when they insist on my keeping the product it becomes a "donation".

    The Iomega can be configured using either RAID or JBOD, it is accessible in several ways. Direct USB connection, via Ethernet through your home network, and even by web for remote login.

    I do not subscribe to "cloud" backups for all the reasons stated above, and early on a very bad situation with a Providence Architecture Firm.

    There are many version of NAS devices around... This is my 3rd go around with systems placed under test to identify a unit (s) I feel comfortable recommending during consult.

    These are reasonable in price, accessible in numerous ways including remote, and relatively inexpensive.

    Let me know if I can help. Good thread by the way!

    MacMall | Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 Network Storage Cloud Edition - NAS - 2 TB - Serial ATA-300 - HD 1 TB x 2 - RAID 1, JBOD - Gigabit Ethernet - iSCSI 35427
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