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Time to get serious about backup

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by morphodone, May 20, 2019.

  1. morphodone

    morphodone Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    I figured it was time for me to get serious about backup. I have been doing a 365 project this year and I am accumulating photos at a faster rate.

    I also have offsite backup to backblaze but I wanted a more robust solution for my home.

    Now all my PC's and Mac's can be backed up without having all these external hard drives everywhere.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    139/365 - Backup by Kyle McMurphy, on Flickr
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  2. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Backup is a never ending hassle. We don't have to pay for film anymore, we just keep buying more drives :dash2:

    As an EE who worked in computer design for decades, I can tell you it's one thing most people never think about until it's too late. I know people who use thumb drives for backup...oy vey! I remember a few years ago asking a friend who teaches photography at a university how she backs up her files and was surprised when she told me she had no backup strategy at all!
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  3. Andrewmap

    Andrewmap Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 5, 2018
    Derby, United Kingdom
    I currently have three external drives (I no longer have any images on the PC drive) which I manually update with new folders after a photo session: yes, it is time consuming and there probably is software available (I'm not that tech savvy!) but my way means I know which files are backed up because I've had to think about where the new folders are going.
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  4. bjurasz

    bjurasz Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 10, 2014
    Cedar Park
    Time Machine backups to one local drive (I used to use 2 drives for this, it would ping-pong every hour between them). Apple's Photos in iCloud is the second backup. Backblaze is the third backup. So far I have successfully restored from Time Machine once, and from iCloud once, so I'm reasonably certain my three pronged approach is going to protect me. Most of my photos by far revolve around my young family's life, they are very important to us.

    I would strongly advise people not rely only on local backup. Or only on cloud backup. Or only on one source of backup. We even do annual photo books. I would also advise people not to discount PAPER as an alternative form of backup.
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  5. Michael Meissner

    Michael Meissner Mu-43 Veteran

    In terms of backup over-kill, you may or may not want to do what I do, but maybe there are some things to think about:
    • I have 3 computers in the house (two desktops, one laptop). I have the main files on the desktop that I use a file server, and when I begin an editing session, I sync up the other desktop with files from the file server. Every so often, I feel I need to restart the process, and I just go back to the file server to start anew. If I like the changes I made on the editing desktop, I will then sync up the other two computers in the house.
    • In addition, I have two USB external drives. One drive I keep locked in my office desk, and the other at home. I do not attach the drive to the editing desktop until I'm ready to sync the changes. I sync the changes onto the external drive, and then unplug it. The theory is if something happened to my main computers, I would still have the files on the external drive, since they are only connected briefly.
    • Every so often, I swap the home drive with the drive at work, and my next editing session will then update that drive. This way, I have easily accessible pictures even if something happened to the house. I have each drive in a plastic container that should help with normal rain, etc. but it might not work too well with standing water for some time like the various hurricanes (Katrina, etc.), but hopefully if something like that happens, I could take the drive with me.
    • On the file server desktop, I have another drive that makes a daily backup of the portion of my photos that I'm working on. Because in general the files are not changing, it uses hard links on Linux to give me a version of the file system on a nightly basis. This is a separate drive, so if there are hardware problems with the main drive, I can recover the recent work. When the drive gets filed up, the software deletes the older files until it has enough space. In 2017 I upgraded the drive and so far, it hasn't been filled. Note, files that are deleted will remain in this cache until deleted just in case I need to go back, but the other drives it is deleted. When I'm uploading from the camera, I do do an initial pass and delete the obvious clunkers before it is stored in the daily archive.
    • Work that is 'finished' goes into an archive on yet another drive, and I have a mirror of this archive drive on the other desktop. The archive contains the images after editing going all of the way back to 2002. In addition it stores the videos I've recorded since 2010.
    • You can never have enough backups, so for the photos/videos that I did for other people, I have a disk on each of the desktops that has the raw jpgs/mp4s straight out of the camera.
    • I am more selective about what goes on the laptop since it has a single 2GB drive, so I don't tend to keep the older videos there.
    • In addition, I maintain a hobby website that includes the edited versions of my photo albums that is sync'ed whenever I finish editing for the day.
    • This all depends on me not shooting so much that I continually need to buy more drives. I find though by the time I need more space, the price of the larger drives has come down. Right now, I'm using 2GB and 3GB drives. In a year or two, I probably will be upgrading drives over time as particular disks get full (or have to be replaced).
    I have had drives fail over the years, and having multiple copies means I can record when I have a hard drive failure (or I delete the wrong files by accident). Lets see total space for just the photos and videos:
    • 462G for still photos dating back to 2002
    • 408G for videos mostly dating back to 2010 (these are compressed somewhat from the original files)
    • 295G for the raw still/video files saved from important photo shoots
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  6. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Well I have a very OTT method, 1 keep SD card after use, 2 on main PC 2 sets of images one SSD one HD then two USB drives atached. 3 backed up to two other machines on network and 4 Amazon photos so there is in all 8 copies of all images knocking around. I lost a pair of drives once the main and back up luckily I had a third but won't take many chances.
  7. Personally, I'm not at all bothered about backup. Once my images are on flickr, smugmug, redbubble and Alamy, that's it. I no longer require them, but if I do, I know that they're "out there" and I can always download the ones that I need, but I can't ever see me needing them.
  8. I back up all of my data twice on a variety of drives. I send my accounts to myself by email as well. Further backups go to my Amazon cloud account and Apple's for good measure. I have absolutely no idea why I do this, and I'm so disorganised with filenames I am always losing stuff.
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  9. Exactly my strategy. Three external drives with copies of all my photos on each. I like to keep my TIFF's also for future editing. Many decades ago when I was learning video my professor told the class when you are rounding up equipment for a shoot "You have to have two to know you have one". Stuck with me and saved my ass on many occasions.
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  10. Mack

    Mack Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2018
    As to using a Cloud (cough) for storage around here, it isn't practical as my upload speed is dismal at .25 Mbps (Thank you AT&T DSL and your underground rotting wiring that shorts to ground, or the gopher chews through it - as he has with the main power lines and killed all power for a couple of days too, or my neighbor waters his lawn and drowns the internet for a while.).

    For me to upload off a 1TB drive of images to some Cloud, it would take me 1 year, 2 months, 28 days, 11 hours, 22 minutes, and 26 seconds based on this upload calculator: Download Time Calculator - Calculate Download time Even trying to update some iPad OS update can take 7 hours here, if it doesn't puke and "Sever time-outs" and then needs to restart the thing.

    So that Cloud stuff ain't gonna happen here. So I'll keep using my current 1-3TB annually purchased USB hard drive and store there much like a library. Got too many of them to resort to trying to Cloud them all which might take a lifetime.

    I need to cull this digital stuff better too. :doh:
  11. Michael Meissner

    Michael Meissner Mu-43 Veteran

    Back when my house was connected with a cell phone internet, I would update my web site by putting the files on a laptop and taking it to a place that had better upload speeds (work, friends house, internet cafe with decent upload speed). Obviously you need to make sure it is ok before doing the upload (i.e. if you use a friends house you wouldn't want to cause them to go over their monthly limit, or if you use work, whether your employer was ok with you doing that).

    I recall a few years ago a cloud vendor had an option where you could send them an external drive and they would copy the files and send you the drive back. I don't know if places still offer this option.

    One thing to consider is whether your cloud provider will be around. I recall various photo sharing sites that used to offer free storage and either had to reduce the amount of storage offered or went out of business. If a company went out of business,and you don't have a local copy, then you are up a creek without a paddle. If you are serious about backups, you need to use multiple options and be prepared to pay for the service. Just like you need to consider the cost of upgrading physical media and computers in your yearly and 5 year budgets.
  12. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    My one big piece of advise is always have at least one backup offsite (cloud, hard drive stored at work, etc.). Multiple backups will do you no good if they are all in the same place and something happens to that place (Fire, flood, theft, etc.).
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  13. Mack

    Mack Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2018
    I remember when Kodak had their Cloud storage in the 1990's (EasyShare Gallery). It too went bust, and led the way for Kodak's bankruptcy when they thought they could raise the storage price and people revolted ( https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/131477.pdf ). Kodak gave you a few months to get your images before they went bye-bye. At my slow download speeds, I'd never get the stuff off their Cloud before they shut it down.
  14. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I keep it simple with SmugMug and external hard drives. My "favorites" are also on Macbook hard drive and another external hard drive. My bigger issues is not cataloging everything sufficiently because it is so easy/cheap to keep everything. Having the photos saved and finding a specific shot from 2011 is not the same thing...
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  15. Michael Meissner

    Michael Meissner Mu-43 Veteran

    And of course if the offsite back up is only done rarely, you are subject to losing the recent photos. Backup early, backup often.

    Now the following site was originally an ad for a company that sold backup services to data centers (Veracity), but even so, it should give people things to think about of what can go wrong with personal backups. FWIW, my sister lost all of her photos 1-2 years ago due to no backups. Remember Murphy's Law (if anything can go wrong it will) reigns supreme:
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  16. rich.smith

    rich.smith Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    This is my current approach:

    1. Import photos into Lightroom using the option to copy into a location (copy 1)
    2. Use Chronosync to automatically copy them to a second external drive (copy 2)
    3. Use Resilio sync to copy these to an external HD connected to a computer in my office at work (copy 3)
    4. Periodically export from Lightroom and upload to Amazon Photos (copy 4)

    The Amazon photos versions are used mainly for sharing with other people. They are jpeg only and not intended for backup purposes, although they are a fall back option in the event of some failure of my backups.

    I like the fact that the first three copies are created automatically. I don't have to remember to do anything. After having 2 or 3 backup services go out of business, I decided that I would stop relying on cloud storage for backup. My offsite storage is on a computer I own at my office.

    I had another service (Crashplan) decide to stop offering their personal backup service and since they used a proprietary backup file format, my offsite data (also at my office) was rendered useless. This new approach stores the files on the file system in their native format. Recovery is easy and so is determining if the backups are working.
  17. bjurasz

    bjurasz Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 10, 2014
    Cedar Park
    That would be Crash Plan. I used to use them, and I used that very feature to boot-strap my initial backup. It was really cool. They sent a harddrive to you, and their software would copy everything to that disk, while also copying over the Internet to their servers. You then sent the drive back, pre-paid. In the mean time data is still going up through the internet, and the time remaining is like 8 months... Then magically about 3 days later the time remaining drops to a few hours as the system now realizes there are only a few files that have changed in those few days that need to still go up.

    They had the opposite ability as well, restore your system by them sending you a drive.

    CrashPlan no longer does consumer backups however. Now I use BackBlaze and hope that if I need to use it that my 200 Mbps download speed does not make that process too painful.
  18. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    @morphodone@morphodone, you are pretty much started on the same path I have taken. Synology NAS with Mirrored/RAID 1 gives me two identical copies of my data directly readable from the drives regardless of whether the Synology box is available. I prefer this to stripe sets because they have to be rebuilt before data can be read. The weakness of this system is that the whole NAS box could be stolen or could be damaged in a house fire.

    I have also attached a SATA dock to the NAS. Every month or so, or after saving a bunch of pictures, I back up the NAS to a 5tb SATA drive that normally lives in my fire resistant gun safe in the basement. There are always several backups on the drive. There are worst cases where a serious fire could cook the backup drive but IMO the probability is low enough that I can ignore them.

    I also use the Synology "Cloud Station" to store my Lightroom database -- copies on my computer, my wife's computer and the NAS box. It's a little clumsy because LR will only work with the local data, so Cloud Station must resynchronize my or her local copy on all three machines before the other person can do anything. Some people use DropBox for this, but then you are dealing with transmission speeds to/from the cloud. With Cloud Station everything is on the local LAN and fairly fast.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. DefectiveMonk

    DefectiveMonk Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 19, 2018
    Columbus, Ohio, US
    Photos only exist on my computer after initial import and editing they then get shunted to an external hard drive. The external hard drive is synced to the network attached storage (server) about every 2 weeks. There's a second external hard drive that gets synced with the first on a quarterly basis and it lives in the safe deposit box.
  20. ralf-11

    ralf-11 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 16, 2017
    Same for me - these guys have it all backed up on optical tape

    (Mod - removed AP copyrighted image of Utah Data Center.
    also no reason to bring politics into the discussion, joking or not.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2019
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