Storage and Backup, a Must for Our Images...
I don't know how many times this one has been around the horn in here but I'm bettin' that I have some information that many in this forum needs. I'll share it, although it'll be a little lengthy and you can respond or not, depending on your preference. If you have something to add that I've overlooked, please do so. If you are just being contrary and argumentative and serving no other useful purpose, it might be just as well to keep it to yourself and let the less experienced in here benefit from what I have to say. I think what I have to say will not warrant a lot of discussion and I don't mean that in a pretentious manner. For those of you who already have all the answers for what I'm going to say, great, especially if you're taking advantage of what you know. For those of you who don't know or who know but don't believe and therefore don't do it, for some reason, you better pay attention. I often admit, as you know by now, that I don't know what I'm doing. That's partly true and partly a smokescreen. What I'm about to share is appropriate and some, many, can benefit from reading it:
I'll quote an unknown source as I say, "there are two kinds of computer user - those who have lost all their data (read that images) and those who are going to." Hard drives fail, not if, but when - the answer is "sooner or later."
I intend this to be alarming and while I normally don't go out of my way to attempt to guide people, I'm making an exception.
What brings this up is that I saw the other day where one of our forum members said they, "burn a disc of my originals and another of my edited versions." I cringed when I heard that. Let me tell you why. That person is headed for a sure-fire disaster with those images. Discounting all the other things that can go wrong, "disc rot" as it is called eventually happens to every disc you burn. If that were all, it wouldn't be so bad. What else happens is that often newer equipment won't read older discs. Sometimes you can get recovery software that'll save your buns and often not.
I've been admitting in various posts that I am too unorganized to lay my hands on the exact image I want to submit but that's been a little fib. My method of preserving my data is a little complicated. Like Sinatraman said about some of my "mouthy posts," I may have too much time on my hands. The fact is that I also have too many interests. I shoot some video that I burn to blu ray and that requires quite a bit of time also. I have too many images in too many places to just go get one and put it on here. The ones I've put on here have, for one reason or another not related to his forum, been brought out of hiding for some other purpose and I just popped them on the forum to get some valid criticism. What hasn't been a fib is that I have not aspired to be a "pro." It's too late for me to do that - I have too many physical and medical considerations.
Beyond that, I don't fancy myself as an expert on much and don't want to leave the impression to the contrary. What I'm about to discuss with you is different. I've debated going into it but I've decided that it's important enough to share. I've been burning cd's since 1988 and dvd's since they came out, and now blu ray and they all have something in common - they go bad. Your images are not safe with "a copy" made of blah, blah, blah. You must have multiple copies and if possible on different media or you'll eventually lose them. There are "gold" discs that offer a little better safety than the others but they too go bad, it just takes a little longer. Cd's hold up to 700+ megabytes, dvd's hold up to 4.7 gigabytes while double layered ones hold twice that much, and blu rays hold 25 gigabytes and those can be double-layer so 50 gig. Any of those on a single disc are too many images to lose at any time.
Having discs go bad within a year or so sitting in holders, doing nothing, after first I burned them taught me a lesson very early on so I devised a method of circumventing the problem. It may seem a little excessive, especially for those who have limited availability of space to carry it out. In addition to making several copies of my data and spreading it around to different places to avoid destruction by natural disaster, even lock boxes in my bank at one time, to make sure that I had several chances to retrieve it if it became necessary. I started pulling full drives out of my computers leaving the data intact on the pulled drive and replacing it with a new drive and starting over.
Then I discovered that the pulled drives didn't always want to work in a newer computer so I started simply retiring old computers as they were before they crashed and getting a new one, more powerful to handle the demands of bigger more powerful software and the increasing size of data that was stored on them. So, as we speak, I have six older computers lined up and mothballed in my basement. I have cataloged what is on the drives and when I need something in particular, I go to the appropriate computer and plug it in with every expectation that it will crank up right where I left it, and I haven't been disappointed in that yet. I don't have to worry about backward compatibility or any of the other issues that arise when I get a new computer and ship out the old one. Plus, I have the older cd and dvd drives in those machines and they read the discs that were burned in them without hesitancy.
I currently have four computers hooked to a wiring harness with a switch that lets me move back and forth between the machines using the same monitor, mouse, and keyboard on each of them by hitting the NumLock key twice to change to the next computer. I can use them for different reasons or they are all interchangeable as they sit. I have Windows 98 on one that my film scanner is hooked up to, Linux on one that I use for going online most of the time because it is, like a Mac, less vulnerable to online problems such as viruses. One has Win XP Pro and has two scanners hooked to it for different scanning jobs, and a Win 7 box that none of my scanners or printers want to work on. There's no problem with moving to different machines and finding that the images look different because of different monitors.
Then to solve the need for more storage, I have drive docks, $20, that allow me to plug in any hard drive I need to. My images are all stored on drives I can plug in to drive docks. I have 3 docks on my latest most powerful machine so I can have 3 extra drives plugged in at the same time, thereby not having to switch drives as often, and 1 each on the other 3. I have a stack of hard drives and they all fit in all the docks and can be put in any dock and they'll work on all four computers. Rendering video is very time consuming so I can be processing two videos at the same time, switching back and forth between as needed, be online doing email, and scanning in slides or film at the same time. Sometimes I feel like a monkey in a candy store but it's very functional and effective.
You just drop a drive into a dock and you're off and running. No more taking a computer apart to put the drive inside. There are two kinds of drives, PATA and SATA and the only distinction is the plugs on them. You have to have a dock to match the plugin on the drive you want to use. You can also use these docks on laptops to increase your storage and then unplug them and plug them into your desktop or another laptop, thus making it appear that the drive is exclusive to the machine you're using at the time. It's also a very efficient way of moving images back and forth between computers. The docks plug into your usb ports. It's that simple.
In addition to all of that, I use an online storage. We've all seen the adverts for Carbonite. I use another one but it's similar. The quickest way to get data into an online storage, however, is to sign up for one or more gmail email accounts and mail your images to yourself. gmail, a division of Google gives you 7.5 gigabytes of storage free and you can have multiple gmail accounts, one for each category of image you want to store. They sit on Google's servers until you're ready to open them in an email and download them to your computer. You can email up to 25 megabytes, I think it is, at one time, perhaps not adequate for some RAW files, and attach multiple images, jpgs, tiff, etc., to a single email which may or may not be desirable.
We have set up a national disaster for families with digital photography and it hasn't hit yet en masse the way it's going to one of these days. There'll be no family albums to sit around in later years and look at, admiring our youth, etc. A lot of it will disappear, I'd venture to say most. If you aspire to be a pro and earn you livelihood with your images, you won't if you don't take the necessary precautions. Businesses that lose their data rarely continue to exist, small or large. Data recovery companies and software can save some but not all. My two older sons are IT people and my youngest started and ran a data recovery company for ten years, ultimately selling it and watching it being driven into the ground by new owners. When I speak about this, I speak not only from the perspective of 30 years of personal experience but also from the standpoint of being closely associated with people who have had to concern themselves with these issues. I've seen it up close and it's a tragedy when it happens. If you want your images, you'll heed at least a part of what I've offered here. Can I get an "amen" from ya JimH, an IT man yourself. You've demonstrated yourself to be a wise, very well versed, and a much respect man in this forum who offers expert guidance on a variety of issues well beyond my capability. What say you?
I've done this rather hurriedly so please overlook all of what might normally appear to be stuck keys except where it involves whole words that appear to be missing in which case, allow that I may think faster than I can type although that may be a complete misconception.
I see your point... I too have multiple keepsakes of each and every photograph I have on my computer, but not only my photographs but my music, documents, and so fourth. I keep most of my stuff stored in what I say is the same thing as a
"Cloud storage" basically online... you might check it out as it is completely free and you can store unlimited amounts of files here. www.weebly.com
and if you have google chrome there's an app for it a couple others are subhub.com and snappages.com. They are supposed to be used as websites for your company or whatever but you can choose it to be for personal usage and never publish it. However, if these company's ever sell out or go out of business they will send all of your files to you through a compressed zip file to e-mail... It works out great for me and the best part is, it's not using up your hard drive!
I see your point... I too have multiple keepsakes ... (
I'm glad to hear you're safe. A lot of folks aren't. I am aware of some of the sites but not all the ones you mentioned. I'm just real leery of online companies. Some of them aren't very secure and often when they go out of business, they just lock the doors and walk off. It's good the one you use has a plan. Now, if they'll only do what they say they will. My excessive method is my way of guarding against the unpredictability of those online companies. I'm going to trust 'em, just about as far as I can throw 'em. Thanks for the response and offering up those free sites. I'd do more'n one and still do gmail because some of the restore processes of "cloud" companies are not terrible convenient or quick whereas gmail is right there when you want it and as quick and simple as opening an email. My question about online storage is whether or not some of those guys are going to compress my images and degrade them to save themselves some bucks.
br br I'm glad to hear you're safe. A lot of fo... (
Actually, if you aren't worried about Gmail going out of business then you shouldn't worry about weebly.com going out of business as it is created and backed 100% by Google. Technically, it's only free if you don't want to use most of the website creation tools like video, selling tools, and so on. I completely trust google to their part as it plainly states in the agreement that if google/weebly does not do their part in any such event they will be held 100% responsible to pay for or replace any of your properties.
quote=gessman br br I'm glad to hear you're saf... (
Yah, especially if they have funds to do that with or are not tied up in court for a few years. And, you bet, I AM not being very positive and AM looking on the dark side of things.
True, They are in court a lot aren't they!!! I don't blame you though. Having plenty of backups is the most important when it comes to your own work. " you can never have to much"... expecially with photography, you can't ever capture the exact same thing again and once it's lost, it's lost forever... not a good feeling to come across.
I use a combination of 2 older computers, a 750 GB portable drive, and Carbonite's service. The biggest problem for me with Carbonite is the upload time is slow with my internet service out here in the country. Eventually, hope to get better services to our home, but it's faster now than in recent years. As the price of external drives keeps dropping (my last was about $75) I plan on buying another one soon and keeping in another location.
I store all my photos online at www.smugmug.com
. They keep your images safe in three different locations on three different servers. There's no limit to the size or number of files you can upload. You customize your homepage that includes password security on individual albums you create. $50 a year. Any other means of backup in prone to damage from fire, water or other disaster. Computers crash, get eaten up by viruses and get stolen. If your photos are worth anything to you store them online. IMHO
I have 4 backup copies. All on external hard drives, one off site at all times.
Best practice from DAM recommends 3-2-1
3 copies, 2 media, 1 off site.
WHen i first started I used cd, or then dvd when 1 negative would not fit on a cd, made 4 copies then as is now. That was when external storage was expensive. But between the media breaking down, and the time it takes to write and then with external storage becoming so cheap I have since moved to those.
I never keep photos on my computer. I do move a copy to the computer to work on it, and when i am organizing them, but then back to their "home".
I have 4 backup copies. All on external hard drive... (
Just a quick point concerning your post and others like it. If cost is an issue how much do all those backup drives cost? Secondly, do you consider the cost of your labor in making all those backup copies? I upload my photos right after processing, once, then to my hard drive. It's quick, it's cheap & in my opinion, more secure. Just Sayin'!
If you want your images, you'll heed at least a part of what I've offered here. Can I get an "amen" from ya JimH, an IT man yourself. You've demonstrated yourself to be a wise, very well versed, and a much respect man in this forum who offers expert guidance on a variety of issues well beyond my capability. What say you? <snip>
I agree fully - to be completely safe, multiple backup strategies should be put in place, if your images mean anything at all to you. I'm not quite so pessimistic as Gessman about optical storage, having used CDs for a long time, and you can't beat them for cost per megabyte of storage. A good brand name CD should last 20-30 years without degradation, IF it was created correctly. I have some burned in the early 90s that are still fine.
Magnetic storage is getting far cheaper per megabyte than it used to be, though. I just picked up a 2Terabyte external drive for $70. That's incredible. Would you believe that the first hard drive commercially available for the fledgling IBM PC, in 1983 cost $5000? For a whopping 5 MB? You can pick up USB-connected external drives for $30-75 depending on capacity, and they're small, easy to store, and relatively trouble free.
Of course, the main problem with magnetic storage is...magnetism. In the old days, you could scramble your data on a floppy or old hard drive by setting it too near a stereo speaker or other source of magnetism (like a ringing phone..) So hard drives need to be stored someplace where a strong magnetic field will not scramble them.
Either way, long term bulk storage is something that you should look into, if archiving your images is important to you.
I consider the cost of everything that is then added to the cost of the photo.
External drives are cheap these days, and are much faster . For example, when I would save to cd , it might take 40-60 mintues to cover one to another, with external drives, it may be 10 minutes, and only a few if the folder isn't really large.
Also, every three years I retire them and replace with a new drive. They are on a rotation system so unless one fails I don't have to replace them all at the same time.
Backing up is not my favorite thing to do, as it is boring and time consuming, but.......it is better than losing work.
I also make a contact sheet of every folder (a carry over from my darkroom process) which I like as it makes it much easier to find a file quickly.
My storage and editing program is from Creative Memories Memory Manager 3.0. I then upload them to my smugmug account. I have an external harddrive for backup, but I am horrible at organizing it and I haven't done it in a long time. I need to get more organized.
You are all scaring me into doing something. I do have some external storage as well as cds... but am not great about doing this.
I shall try to do better.
At the top of this thread, there was an ad for cloud storage,100% totally free from mypcbackup.com. Upon investigation, it is 100% totally free for 14 days. That ad should not be allowed on this site.
Thank You, gessman for the informative post. I am currently using DVD's and external harddrives. The HDs are very compact and portable. If I have a photo that I absolutely would die if I lost, I have a print made. I guess this goes back to having a finished product to touch. I still have a few old tintype photographs of my grandparents and their parents that have survived for over 100+ years. No one will ever convince me that sending my stuff into cyberspace with a guarantee nothing will happen to it is the best method. Multiple media is the best way for me. I've been in the Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery business for over 25 years. NOTHING is guaranteed 100% safe forever. Sometimes we allow constantly changing technology think for us. But all good information..