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How to back up

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Phil K, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. One of my notebooks died a fe month ago, Crystall's hard drive crashed, Frank has his computer toasted by lightning, and .........

    I would like to ask the experts here

    1. How often should we backup, and the workflow? What particular programs to use ( I am using Backup in Mac)?
    2. What media to use, knowing that hard disks, CD-R and DVD-R are not permanent.

  2. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    Here is my two cents worth.

    I run a pc so take that into account. However most of what I suggest should be doable in a Mac. Just different softwares would be needed.

    My photo computer has 4 hard drives 3 internals and one removable via a tray. I keep my OS on hard drive 1, application installations on HDD2, and photos on HDD3. I have HDD 4 as a backup drive. I have a program called syncback (www.2brightsparks.com) that runs every two days on my computer that backs up my important data, photos, pscs actions, my docs, etc. to HDD4. I also alternate HDD4 with another identical drive that fits the same removable tray. So in effect I have 2 backups, one just being a little older than the other. I feel that DVD's are also a good solution but I like hdd's for the speed. The likelyhood of both removable drives failing is slim. Still though, i get paranoid sometimes and do a tertiary backup to an external USB drive, usually of just my pictures. I usually keep one of the backup drives in a firebox or take it to my office and put it in its firebox.

    Thats what I do. I see people everyday that lose everything and do not have backups. Its pretty sad. That being said, I think i'll back up the cafe again. :) 

  3. Brian


    Apr 30, 2005
    Phil, I am by no means no expert, but here's my $0.02. :tongue:

    Backup is VERY important. Hardware can cost you so much, but your important data and photos, you might lose them forever.

    I use PC, which I run a backup program to back them daily up to:
    1. an external USB HDD
    2. a Ximeta netdisk on my local network

    So, as with Patrick, I have 2 copies of backups. For those very important ones, burn them to DVD (not the RW's, as I have read they are not as "stable" as the +/- R) and keep them off-site.

    It can be troublesome to start initially, but when your computer does fail, it is worth every penny of this hard work.
  4. Back up

    Oh wow 4 hd's I think I need a higher paying job, my b/u is burning them to a cd, I guess that is what being disabled and poor gets you. I hope I don't "touch wood" have problems again, I lost a full gig cards worth last year, a backdoor virus cleaned me out now I dl and burn, the WD I posted is my only shot I saved, (on image shack but as a 400x600 so I really lost it to, I had 2 woddies pose 10 feet away for 30 minutes on a tree root in a creek. So I think I will hope for the camera gods to be good to me. cya! :eek: 
  5. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto

    You might want to look into getting a .mac account ($99 per year) and using iSynch to upload your important files to your account there.

    That way, no hardware to buy and switch around.


    My plan is to buy a second 80gb hard drive (I have one now) and just get in the habit of plugging in one and keeping the second one off site and switching them on a regular basis.
  6. I'm backing up to an external hard drive, and to archive type CD's (at least according to the manufacturer. I may become ornery enough to hang around for 300 years and hold them to the guarantee.) I also have "working" CD's available.

    Nothing wrong with using CD's, however some of them do deteriorate faster than others.

    Once a box of archive CD's is full, off it goes to the safe deposit box.

    Back up is very important, but there is no fool proof method that can take into account every possibility. In the IT industry, Katrina will be used as an example of both best, and worst, practices.

  7. My $.02 worth.

    There is a difference between backup and archival.

    Backups are usually used to recover damaged, deleted or otherwise unreadable files for the short term.

    Archives are used to insure the recoverability of files for any reason over the long term.

    If you only run a backup for instance, and swap two or three media in a round-robin scheme, you run the risk of accidentally deleting or corrupting a file, not notice it is missing, and overwriting the good copy(s) during the normal backup procedure.

    If I had money tied up in images as a business I would not trust a backup scheme. I would make two copies on archival media (not hard drives) and locate one copy a good distance away. Get the "gold" CD-R or DVD-R media, and consider not storing them in a home fireproof safe. Google "archival DVD-R" for more information.

    Use backups locally, and burn good quality CD-R/DVD-R media for archival storage.

    The reason for not storing in one of those home safes is that the safes are well insulated and are designed to protect paper up to 451 degrees F, the flash temperature, but CD's melt around 160 degrees F, which can be reached fairly quickly if the safe is in a warm place. The safe can make a fine oven for them.

    Of course if the place is on fire it probably does not make any difference anyway.

    Just my opinion...
  8. Ron,

    I agree with your definitions. And really, a 'backup' strategy should take into account both elements, that is, the short term, and the long term.

    Of course, the ultimate challenge will be reading whatever media we choose in 10 years, and will the format we use still be readable from a software perspective, let alone the hardware.

  9. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    You won't believe how much data I've lost since I've started in computers 2 decades ago. Working in IT, I took backup pretty plain vanilla - simple daily backups to tape. With photo images though, especially of my kids, I treat it much more seriously:

    1: Mirrored RAID internal to the workstation (1TB).
    2: External IEEE1394 drive (0.5 TB) for original source images only (on-site)
    3: External IEEE1394 drive (0.5 TB) for original source images only (off-site)
    4: DVD/CD backup stored on-site
    5: DVD/CD backup stored off-site

    And every time I purge old files, I burn an additional two DVD copies just to be safe. For processed images - simply 2 DVDs (1 onsite, and one offsite).

    I'm working on a mirrored server for image storage so it should be easier.
  10. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I too have lost lots of data due to poor backup habits. I've tried to learn from each lesson.

    For jobs, I back up the entire shoot to CDs as they are produced. That is, I shoot 512 MB CF cards - I backup each, with a Firewire CF reader and a Firewire CD burner with my G3 Powerbook on the spot. The whole thing means an 8 minute break. If it's a a long gig, then I eat or drink something. Like an Arizona Green Tea, or quad espersso, maybe I eat bagel.

    That means I need no lunch break, and if I can't stop right then, I have 4 cards, so I switch off. When done wih the shoot, and back to my desktop, I do triage on the captures (from the CF cards.) Anything I think is a keeper, I put through ACR, but just save the XMP file. Then the batch gets saved to DVD. I keep the NEFs and XMPs on my desktop throughout the process though.

    Then I process the photos. I usually do one edit for best web output and one for best print output. I try to do the print output first and get the web output from that, without looking oversharpened. So each vector of output must be done carefully, with unique optimizations for each.

    Worthy edits get saved into a folder on my desktop. If they are pertainent to a particular job, they are saved to the jobs folder and saved to CD at an appropriate interval (every 700 MB or so, depending on the rate of pay for the job, and the amount of work involved, which are usually, but not always connected.)

    Finally, every 4 GB of my stuff gets saved to DVD, regardless of job or value status. This way, I have a record of everything have shot, except images deleted in camera.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2005
  11. There is a problem here, and a maybe, an opportunity.

    At me mom and dads home, we have a picture of Alexander Campbell Brown, in his best kilt and tucker, behind a half inch of glass, on a plate of some sort. The glass is cracked, but it was taken near the end of the 19th century. We paid for some manual restoration, that resulted in a film based image. It would be, by todays standards, be a poor portrait. It is an important picture.

    I, and probably many members of this forum, have images of family that are 100 years old or more. The images/photographs/pictures that we are taking today may not last that long.

    Just a thought, (and maybe a controversial one).

    History, in our age, is not recorded through the technicaly best photograph, but through the photograph that was taken.

    So, to end the ramble.

    Photons are temporary. Maybe, the ultimate back up is a print.

  12. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Hi Mark,

    For sure, the older photss are of especial value. For \there are two items of value 1) the original print. be it silver , tin or ???, the original medium holds special value. A non-oxidative and not actinic environment is important. Toward this end, acid-free packaging and dark, low (but not too low) humiduty storage is important. I don't knw of preservative measures more effective than these.

    Second is appropriate restoration. Digital manipulation does a better job then physical treatment, that it is better to photograph (or scan) the originals than it is to work on the originals. Copy, then preserve the originals.

    This way, you can always get the best of he ability to capture the photons at the time, and be able to better their representation.
  13. Thank you all for the input. I now have a better idea of how to back up/achive.

    The Cafe is such a wonderful place. Everyone is so knowledgeable and helpful.
  14. I have three computers on a network in my home. I simply copy "My Documents" to the other computer's hard drives and Vice Versa. I also burn DVD's of the files and keep them at my Mother-in Law's house.

    My main computer has two 200 gb hard drives, one for the operating system and programs, the second is for my files and photos.

    I no longer use compression for backup as some backup utilities do. I copy the complete file uncompressed. I once ran into trouble using Quickbooks backup, then using Iomega backup utility onto ZIP disks. The result was a Quickbooks file that could not be recovered, even sent it away to a company specailizing in recovery. I found you can not compress a file twice and expect it to work.

    So now I copy everything with no compression. Thank goodness for 200gb hard drives.
  15. My setup is a 40 GB C: drive for system and programs only. I have a 250 GB D: drive on which I store all pics, documents, etc and a Ghost of my C: drive. If C: pooches, I'm back up and running in 8 minutes flat (been there a few times already). I have a 250GB external drive with copies of all pics & docs which is updated nightly with Karen's Replicator (free and great program) which monitors any files or any changes in old files. I also create a backup set of DVDs for all pics and docs, updated weekly. If a system is set up properly, it won't take much to do successful backups, in fact, it can do it all automatically. I also second Greg's instructions: don't compress, just copy.
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