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05-05-2009, 06:24 PM   #1
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best way to store dig files?

need advice...
what is best for storing my new digital pics, external hard drive (portable), or cd's?
i'm leaning toward the external hard drive but would like to hear from people that have experience, i'm new to the digital world.
thanks much

05-05-2009, 07:40 PM   #2
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I would suggest storing your files on a computer, and then use an external hard drive as a backup.
05-05-2009, 08:02 PM   #3
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Use a second hard drive in your computer and as many external hard drives as you can justify to the planning department.
I never really feel I have a file safely stored until I have three copies of it.
05-05-2009, 09:06 PM   #4
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Same here, I use my desktop with two hard drives, back up to an external drive from the desktop and also keep copies on the laptop as well.

05-05-2009, 09:52 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kjacks Quote
what is best for storing my new digital pics, external hard drive (portable), or cd's?
DON'T use CDs or DVDs. It takes a lot longer to put files on them, and over time you'll find it that having dozens or hundreds of discs to deal with becomes a real burden. And having to manually load the discs into your computer discourages you from using them and making backups.

Use a hard drive. It doesn't matter that much whether it's an internal or external drive, but my preference is to use an internal one because it just makes it that much easier to go find pictures on a whim.

Make at least two backups (for a total of 3 copies) of your pictures, and store one copy offsite so that it's protected against theft and other risks.

Get some software that lets you tag your files with keywords (people's names, places, events, etc.) Over time it becomes harder and harder to find pictures you want, so start doing it right away before you have so many that it's impracticable to do.
05-05-2009, 10:26 PM   #6
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All sound advise which I agree with. I'll add that most CD/DVD-R media is good for 5-10 years at best. If you do hard drives some kind of RAID will give you some limited protection against drive failure. It's saved my butt a few times.
05-06-2009, 03:04 AM   #7
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So you haven't backed-up lately? Tsk.

Backing up to CDs and DVDs is tedious, and they have a short life span - and some of them die very soon, as I found when some less than a year old, holding scans of old family photos, showed bad sectors. Fortunately I'd given my sister copies of those and so was able to restore, but it was a scare.

Even more of a scare was when I was on a long journey in Guatemala and the external harddisk holding ALL my photos crashed. Many were backed up on another drive stateside, but I still had to go through an expensive (US$700) drive recovery process, and I'm still sorting thru the debris, over two years later. (Recovery tries to restore ALL filenames - if you've moved files on the disc, you'll end up with multiple copies, many of them bad. Oy.)

I do all my work on laptops - at home, they and the external hard discs are on a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) so I won't lose work if mains power goes down. At home, all my photos go directly from cameras to a 2TB RAID 1 drive, which is a package of two 1TB drives that mirror each other. If one fails, the other still has all the goodies. And I regularly back THAT up to an older 1TB drive. As soon as 4TB or 5TB RAID 1 drives hit CostCo, I get one of those to upgrade the capacity. (If I was really paranoid, that backup drive would be at my sister's house, 1000 miles away, updated via FTP.)

Don't trust that your memory card (I've a 16GB SD in my K20D) is a safe place for pictures. Cards get corrupted. Don't trust that one hard disc is safe - HDs go south. Certainly don't trust CDs or DVDs (hey, I need 4 DVDs just to back up the one SD card) which rot all too soon. Traveling with just a laptop, I may NEED to burn DVDs (with backups) for temporary storage, but that still makes me nervous. There are no perfect solutions, but multiple backups and offsite storage are best.
05-07-2009, 03:26 AM   #8
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Disks in RAID1 (or RAID5) + an offline copy is enough. If you really want to be on the safe side, use an online backup service (that backs up your files to the data center of the service provider).

05-07-2009, 03:54 AM   #9
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Or accept that one day those photos are going to be lost. Funnily enough over the last 9 years, from my digital point and shoot 1.3 megapixel camera and onwards I've lost all of 10 photos if that. That was due to a hard drive that developed bad sectors and failed big time,mind you it still spun up, but was recovered using various forensic tools.
It's really your choice as to how far you go which comes down to the value you want to place on those photos.
05-07-2009, 07:34 PM   #10
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Original Poster
thank you all for great advice.
kj
05-07-2009, 10:49 PM   #11
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I don't expect too many people to actually do this but since you asked for the BEST way to store your files... the answer is "Network Attached Storage" (NAS). Something along the lines of a buffalo terastation Buffalo Technology TERASTATION PRO II NAS 2TB PERP4X500GB SATA RAID 5 GBE USB2.0 - TS-H2.0TGL/R5 - RitzCamera.com

It is redundant with striping (RAID 5) so you lose 25% volume over 4 drives but all your data is redundantly written to another drive. Any single hard-drive failure will not affect your operation at all and the broken drive can be replaced without a hard-boot (drives are hot-swapable).

Anyway... that is the answer to your question

I should add to that, that as Sean said an offsite is mandatory. I use a safe deposit box at the bank because it is free with my account and it fits my drive perfectly. I only backup that drive a 2 or 3 times per year but its better than nothing. If I had a real job (with a real office) I might just take my drive there but since I am a just a photographer working from home it is my best offsite option
05-07-2009, 11:40 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by xjjohnno Quote
Or accept that one day those photos are going to be lost. Funnily enough over the last 9 years, from my digital point and shoot 1.3 megapixel camera and onwards I've lost all of 10 photos if that.
The thing is, hard drives can and sometimes do fail suddenly and catastrophically. In that case, NOTHING on the drive can be recovered.

If that happens, you'll really kick yourself for not having bothered with even the occasional copy to another drive.

And just to reiterate regarding RAID: it is an UPTIME solution, not a BACKUP. RAID allows you to keep using your system through a disk failure, just like a UPS lets you keep using your system through a power failure. But RAID doesn't protect you against accidental or malicious deletion of files, and it certainly doesn't protect you from theft.

RAID is mandatory in a data centre because downtime costs a LOT of money. It's less justifiable in most home environments because the cost of downtime is usually a lot less. Rather than saving money by reducing downtime, for most home users what RAID is really doing is saving you the hassle of having to restore files if you loose a disk drive. (There can also be performance benefits to RAID which make it worthwhile but that depends on the workload and which RAID organization your choose).
05-08-2009, 01:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Nelson Quote
RAID is mandatory in a data centre because downtime costs a LOT of money. It's less justifiable in most home environments because the cost of downtime is usually a lot less. Rather than saving money by reducing downtime, for most home users what RAID is really doing is saving you the hassle of having to restore files if you loose a disk drive. (There can also be performance benefits to RAID which make it worthwhile but that depends on the workload and which RAID organization your choose).
RAID 1 for the home ain't that expensive. I think my WD 2TB drive cost around US$300 last year, which was a LOT less than the drive recovery service the previous year. No, it's not backup - that's what older drives are for. My migration path / road map is: Get a larger drive when it's cost-effective. Use the prior drive for critical backups, the next prior for noncritical stuff, etc. I have a Firewire chain: 2TB RAID 1 (all my images), 1TB (backup of that), 500BG (music+text library), 320BG (backups of home.net laptops). I also have the hundreds of legacy CDs/DVDs from earlier days, Just In Case, but those would be a final resort. And they weren't cheap either, in money nor time.

Were I making money with cameras, I'd setup the system to be more bombproof, like multiple RAIDs in different locations with FTP synchronization. That should protect against accidental / malicious deletions, as well as local theft or disaster. I'd just have to schedule the backups for times when my bro-in-law isn't playing online fighter-pilot games.
05-08-2009, 01:38 AM   #14
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I would put all digital files in multiple DVDs as back up
05-08-2009, 02:27 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
I would put all digital files in multiple DVDs as back up
Let's say I'm having a good day with my K20D at a track & field event, or motor race, or orgy. Let's say I'm shooting RAW, averaging 12MB per shot, firing many continuous 16-shot sequences. I have a 16GB SD card. I can easily fill the card that day, with as few as 85 presses of the shutter button. That fills up 85% of 4 DVDs. And I have to pray that the DVDs stay good for awhile, and that they can be read by various of the machines in my home.net, not just the one they were burnt on.

OK, that's an extreme scenario. On my last drive across Mexico, I usually filled the card once per week (no continuous shooting, no orgies) and burnt DVDs for that batch, as well as migrating them to an ultraportable 250GB drive (SimpleTech Espresso, about US$130 at CostCo). Your needs may vary. But shooting with 5mpx PNSs awhile back, it only took a year to be overflowing with hundreds of CDs. Shooting the 14+mpx K20D for the last year would easily have loaded me with 100+ DVDs.

I recall an early CP/M manual. (That's an ancient ancestor of DOS, the core of Windoze.) The illustration for the file system showed office workers merrily sailing dozens of floppy discs (the 5.25 inch sort) out of windows. That's how I feel when I dig through my many binders holding my many data discs. I yearn for some skeet-shooting. Sail'em, blast'em, be done with'em. No, big RAID drives are much much easier to deal with.
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