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09-13-2007, 11:53 PM   #16
PDL
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you have been lucky

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
I have to agree with Stewart on this one. I transfer everything (work, pictures, whatever) to a backup HD as it's only in use a few hours a month and the computer is in use daily. A portable will only be in use periodically for backups and transfers and should last a long time. I've never had a fixed HD fail (computer or backup unit) and have had computers at home and work since the days of 286's. I've had 3 flash cards (2SD and 1 compact memory) fail in just the past year. I have much less faith in the SD card than the HD (in any form).

My next purchase will most likely be a Wolverine or something similar to transfer in the field as carring a bunch of SD's, risks loosing one or having to carry too many.
I work as an Administrator on about 120+ Windows servers using Compaq/Hp hardware that are between 10 years to 1 day old. The most common failure on these machines is hard drives, and I am not talking about el-cheapo IDE garbage = but 18.2 - 300GB 10-15K RPM SCSI drives. Had two fail last week and we have a cabinet full of cold spares.

Hard drives will fail - here at home I have a collection of about 5 dead HD over the years (200MB to 80GB drives). I also have a Wolverine flashpac 7000 (40GB) that I bought in 2005. I use it instead of carrying around a laptop with a DVD burner. I rarely carry my Wolverine while "in the field" since I have 9GB of SD cards in my camera bag with 4GB in reserve. I do have the Wolverine in my big bag that I use when I go through airports - I just treat it with the same respect that I would a laptop - no problem. I also have a SDHC USB reader that I got with the SanDisk 4GB card - it is in the camera bag all the time.

It basically comes down to trust - how much do you trust the portable hard drive. I have had USB hard drives that people claim are their "backups" just plain break when starting up. (I have a WD passport 160GB drive too) I shut down a server with 5 spindles in a RAID 5 array that had not been turned off in 4 years (just rebooted once a month). We let the box sit for a few minutes and reseated a NIC that was intermitent. When the server was turned back on - two of the drives failed - total Buttafuco - if you get my drift. I spent 18 hours getting parts - reloading the OS/partitions and getting a restore off of tape (a real backup system). Not a good way to spend your weekend.

If you are afraid to take the chance on a portable HD as a method of getting images off an SD - then you do not want to remember all the issues that we had with film. Remember the coolers we kept in the back seat with 40 rolls of Kodachrome? Visit Arizona in the summer and not really worry about the emulsion melting in the heat --- Ah the good old days.

Buck up - take a chance - SD's do fail, film fails and my memory isn't what it used to be either. My Wolverine HD/card reader served me well on my last vacation, 2,100 + images at around 21.1 GB not a peep, no laptop to worry about either. Now what would I have done if the Wolverine failed? - I would have spent some additional money on new SD cards and would have tried to recover images when I got back. Life just would have gone on -- I would have been p*ssed but I would still be alive. Then I could have lied about all the drop dead purfect pictures that "got away".

PDL


Last edited by PDL; 09-13-2007 at 11:57 PM. Reason: stuff - spelling and a little content adjustment
09-14-2007, 01:02 AM   #17
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Well, I can certainly understand the servers with drives working hard 24 hours a day. But, when it comes to the home computers, you must be very unlucky to have five die on you. I sat here trying to remember the exact number of drives I've owned over the years, with the best count I could up with was seventeen (from my old Mac Plus to my computer now, laptops and desktops, main drives and backups).

Not a single one of those drives ever went down. I did replace a drive in a laptop once because it was making unusual noises (wanted a larger one anyway). Other than that, the only problem I've had with a hard drive was the installation of one on a Mac. The manufacturer had pre-formated it with the same internal ID as the Mac's primary drive. When I hooked it up, the computer immediately disabled the primary drive, replacing it with this one as the primary. Reformating the new drive gave it a new ID and the real primary was restored from a backup.

Of course, I obviously agree that hard drives do occasionally go bad. However, I just think the risk is fairly low for the average person, especially in this situation with these devices.

By the way, nice to see the Wolverine has also worked well for you, PDL. Since I tend to trust what you say, that experience gives me even greater confidence towards purchasing one of my own.

stewart
09-14-2007, 02:05 AM   #18
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I am glad to hear stewart hasnt had any hard drive failures. I know many who have, including of course myself on several occasions. If you want to believe there is no risk since the drive is not on all the time then be my guest. I have had hard drives work like charm for over 10 years even though they were on pretty much every day, sometimes for weeks at a time. And I have had 1 month old drives crash completely (a little luck in my misfortune since it was then possible to get a new drive, not so if the 10 year old one had failed). A hard drive has many moving parts. An sd card has? Also hold a laptop hard drive and an sd card in your hands and drop each of them down on asphalt, which one is more likely to still be working.

Well its down to each person what he/she wants to use in the end.
09-14-2007, 03:29 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
(snip) If you want to believe there is no risk since the drive is not on all the time then be my guest.

How did my words "the risk is fairly low" turn into "no risk," Andreas? I've already said hard drives occasionally go bad. But, again, I think the risk is fairly low in this situation (not no risk whatsoever, just fairly low). SD cards also occasionally go bad, but the risk of that is fairly low with them as well. At this point, I certainly would not want to bet on which is more reliable and which is more prone to failure.

stewart

09-14-2007, 05:09 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by stewart_photo Quote
Well, I can certainly understand the servers with drives working hard 24 hours a day. But, when it comes to the home computers, you must be very unlucky to have five die on you. I sat here trying to remember the exact number of drives I've owned over the years, with the best count I could up with was seventeen (from my old Mac Plus to my computer now, laptops and desktops, main drives and backups).

Not a single one of those drives ever went down. I did replace a drive in a laptop once because it was making unusual noises (wanted a larger one anyway). Other than that, the only problem I've had with a hard drive was the installation of one on a Mac. The manufacturer had pre-formated it with the same internal ID as the Mac's primary drive. When I hooked it up, the computer immediately disabled the primary drive, replacing it with this one as the primary. Reformating the new drive gave it a new ID and the real primary was restored from a backup.

Of course, I obviously agree that hard drives do occasionally go bad. However, I just think the risk is fairly low for the average person, especially in this situation with these devices.

By the way, nice to see the Wolverine has also worked well for you, PDL. Since I tend to trust what you say, that experience gives me even greater confidence towards purchasing one of my own.

stewart
Stewart

I don't think it is a home computer issue, but an issue of being in the field for an extended period of time, in an environment that is much less than favourable.

I don't disagree home compurters are really quite good, but I have had numerous laptop failures over the years. In fact, I developed my protocol for backing up due to laptop failures. Since my first laptop in 1993 (in total I have had 4), I have had the following. 5 mother board failures, 4 hard disk failures, one power supply that caught fire, 3 keyboard failures. This is on the first 3 laptops, the 4th is relitively new and not yet failed. Yet is the key word since all my replacements have been due to failures that are not economically fixed. Average lifespan is 4 years.

Am I hard on a computer, you bet! I travel almost every week, and the computers get banged around. x-rayed (they probably have what would be a lethal human dose by now), and either tumble around in the trunk of a car, or roll off the back seat during a hard stop. But I don't think this would be any worse treatment than someone on Safari, or for a pro who travells for a living. The question for these people is what is the minimum you need to be able to withstand the unthinkable.

For those always close to home, or on short trips, I see no need to have the ability to dump cards onto a drive, Usually if you need more space, it is a simple matter of going to the store and buying another chip. At home every one backs up their photos some how (I have 1 copy on CD/DVD, 1 copy on a backup usb HD and 1 copy on my PC, HD is on site, cd/DVD is off site).
09-14-2007, 07:34 AM   #21
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I have had a few personal HD failures and an enormous number in our production environment as well as workstations; lots of problems recovering from those losses. All are either manufacturer defects that died early in their life ... or died of old age after providing warning with degraded performance, add'l noise, and/or accelerating degree of bad segments/clusters on the drive; that those warning were hardly ever acted upon by our ops group is a completely different story.

My heart sank when I saw that HyperDrive used Western digital drives ... a manufacturer that burned me twice with personal drive failures early in ownership because of mfg. defects. Moreso because I was bringing that portable drive to Tanzania ... early in its life.

And imagine my dismay when with 2 days left, and about 2500+ shot on the HD, I went to back-up another filled 2 Gig card, and the HyperDrive read on the display "HDDeviceNotFound" ... again after 2 tries. But the Apple 2 mainboard fix (I think it was) came to mind (not that I had owned one) ... I tapped the unit on my leg three times to re-seat the drive in the connections, as a) I left it outside my bad on the trip from Ngorongoro to the Serengeti (worst dust many will ever experience) and b) the extreme roughness of the ride the Serengeti in those Land Rovers were enough to loosening fillings ... it loosened the screws of the aperture ring of my big 300mm to the point where the camera wouldn't see the lens anymore.

After doing the little tap fix, all was fine and the unit was working perfectly.

....yet with all that said, I'm firmly in the camp that would never give-up ownership of his HyperDrive for the 60 2Gig SD cards that would be needed to equate to its storage capacity.
09-14-2007, 11:45 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
(snip) I don't think it is a home computer issue, (snip) Am I hard on a computer, you bet! I travel almost every week, (snip)

Look at my location. I clearly didn't get here by sitting with my computers in a living room somewhere. Over the last ten years, we've lived in five different locations (Vicenza Italy, Seattle (WA), Corpus Christi (TX), Mytle Beach (SC), and Heidelberg). In each of those moves, our desktops were packed up and shipped by various household movers (never gentle) and our laptops lugged onto flights with us. In the last year alone, one or the other of us has traveled back and forth to the USA at least a dozen times for conferences (Boston to San Diego, and places in between), often lugging a laptop along on each trip. In other words, our equipment has not exactly had a gentle life either. Regardless, we've been lucky enough for that equipment to stay relatively intact and functional through it all.

Of course, that's not saying we've never had problems with computers. We've had two computers fried during electrical storms, one desktop with an untraceable hardware problem (a bad solder connection never found), an expensive newer laptop with a red line down the middle of the display, a motherboard that suddenly cut it's clock speed in half, bad RAM chips, dead video cards, dead power supplies, dead CD drives, a CD drive that refused to read anything other than a Bob Dylan music CD (??), a laser printer that spit out nearly 120 copies of a single page and then never printed again, our share of software or driver conflicts, and so much more. Most were Mac-related only because we've owned more Macs than PC's over the years.

Anyway, given all this, I have no desire to carry around a laptop any more than necessary and already have more than enough stuff to carry around with me during photo-related trips. Memory cards may or may not be more reliable than a hard drive, but these portable drives are certainly a lot cheaper and more convenient than a pile of cards equal in capacity.

stewart
09-18-2007, 10:46 AM   #23
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Hi Stewart

Just prior to buying my first digital Fuji S602Z 'bridge' camera some years ago, I obtained a snazzy new laptop with a fantastic 15.7" 1600 x 1200 screen. Unfortunately this computer is very heavy and I obviously didn't fancy lugging it all over Europe & the States with me, lest it became either damaged in transit or stolen.
I checked out the market looking to see what was available in the way of affordable storage options, because CF cards were then notoriously expensive. I finally ended up obtaining a mains/battery portable Apacer Disc Steno 100,
Apacer Disc Steno CP100: Digital Photography Review,
which I still use on occasion. Speaking personally I would NEVER commit any digital photographs SOLELY to a Hard Drive of any description. PERIOD ! If I have been out shooting images mainly during a vacation for example, I will WITHOUT EXCEPTION burn those pictures straight to either a CD or DVD (twice if they are really important) the same evening.
Since then I have purchased my current Philips Freevents X51 laptop with 12" 1024 x 768 screen and integral CD/DVD burner, which is both extremely lightweight & compact in it's dimensions, so I have no problems if travelling via commercial airlines.

Best regards
Richard

09-18-2007, 12:09 PM   #24
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Before one of our trips earlier in the year I bought the Epson P-2000. Here is a review of it. I bought it so I would not have to bring my computer along, and so that I could save image files to a capacious drive and then reformat and reuse the cards.

I am not sure it was worth the trouble. There are two main problems.

First, transferring files to the Epson drive was painfully slow. Not something I'd want to be doing while, say, trying to shoot a wedding. I can't remember how long it took to transfer 2 GB of files but it was a long time -- 10 or 15 minutes, I think, maybe a little longer.

Second, the battery life in the device was lousy -- and there was, in my opinion, quite insufficient warning before the device ran out of power. So I found it rather hard to use for the original purpose, which was as a battery-powered alternative to having a computer along. In the end, we were staying at a motel rather than camping (on THAT particular trip) so it was okay: I could keep the drive in the motel room and keep it plugged in.

I might add also that, while the drive does have a better display than the display on the back of my K10D, it's not all THAT much better.

We're going to the Grand Canyon in November and will be camping at the bottom of the CAnyon for a couple of nights. I may bring the Epson with me, but I may not. I'm going to be trying to cut ounces in my pack. I have 11 GB of SD storage already, mostly in 2 GB cards. I may buy one or two more cards and try to get by with the cards alone.

Will
09-18-2007, 12:46 PM   #25
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While I'll echo that to the HyperDrive it also takes up to 15 minutes to transfer 2 gigs of pictures (or data of any form) to the HD, the battery life is fantastic. Said to be able to off-load/back-up 100 Gigs of data off a card on one charge. Reason being, it's a storage / retrieval only device; no image viewing from it. It does one thing and does it pretty well. Regarding the 15 minute time? No prob; you do want to have more then one card if using it, to be able to off-load one and shoot onto another.
09-18-2007, 02:05 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Just prior to buying my first digital Fuji S602Z 'bridge' camera some years ago, I obtained a snazzy new laptop with a fantastic 15.7" 1600 x 1200 screen. Unfortunately this computer is very heavy and I obviously didn't fancy lugging it all over Europe & the States with me, lest it became either damaged in transit or stolen.

I know exactly what you mean, Richard. My last laptop was an HP Pavilion ZD8000 with 17-inch wide-screen display. It was big, heavy, loud, hot, and totally useless on airplanes or other similar means of travel. Battery life was also horrible. However, it was fast overall and the "BrightView" display was simply beautiful. Sadly, this is the laptop that developed the vertical red line down the middle of that display. The warranty had expired, HP refused to repair it, and the repair cost was just too high ($1200) though an independent repair shop. Like you (and apparently for the same reasons), we've since purchased smaller laptops with 12-inch displays for travel.


QuoteQuote:
(snip) Speaking personally I would NEVER commit any digital photographs SOLELY to a Hard Drive of any description. PERIOD ! (snip)

I routinely use hard drives to back up my computers. Each computer has it's own individual backup drive, with especially critical data saved on several drives. This system has worked for me. As for photo images, I now have four SD cards to use with my camera (three 2GB and a 1GB, all Panasonic Pro High-Speed - 20MB/s). The images are stored on my computer and on a backup hard drive. Of course, I'm not suggesting this is the best way to back up data. It's simply my way. And I also know others might disagree with my methods, but to each his own.

What I'm thinking about now is a means of moving those images off the SD cards during travel. As I said earlier, there is little desire to lug around a laptop unless absolutely required, no matter how small or lightweight. That is especially true when I also have to carry around a lot of photo equipment.

stewart
09-18-2007, 02:40 PM   #27
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The cheapest (yet good) solution I have found is to use the "Dooin USB2.0 Media Manager" (a $45 HD enclosure): USBGEEK.COM
Just buy a 2.5'' IDE HD and put it in and you have a portable, cheap, light and fast way to copy your pictures directly form the memory card.

The enclosure has a Li-ion rechargeable battery, but you can also buy this "$5 External Battery box" and use AA batteries: USBGEEK.COM
Btw, the Dooin USB2.0 Media Manager is faster than the Digimate III (I compared them with the same HD).
Last thing: K10D's raw files are also supported.


09-18-2007, 03:22 PM   #28
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Hi Stewart

I was sorry to read about your unfortunate tale of woes concerning the HP Pavilion ZD8000 portable......

QuoteQuote:
Sadly, this is the laptop that developed the vertical red line down the middle of that display.....and the repair cost was just too high ($1200)
....and furthermore the predicament you describe below, which must surely arise on an increasingly regular basis with touring digital photographers the world over.......

QuoteQuote:
What I'm thinking about now is a means of moving those images off the SD cards during travel.
The point I was trying to make regarding the wisdom of committing digital images to fallible hard drives without involving computers was precisely the reason I initially sought an alternative solution. I found the answer in the Apacer Disc Steno 100, which has a very good internal LIon battery for burning CD's when mains power sources are occasionally unavailable. At least you know that your digital photographs are stored as safely as can presently be expected.
I believe the latest incarnation of this product is the Apacer Disc Steno 200 which can burn images to both CD's AND more importantly DVD's. Check it out at:

Apacer Disc Steno CP-200 Storage Review

Best regards
Richard
09-19-2007, 12:55 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lazar Quote
The cheapest (yet good) solution I have found is to use the "Dooin USB2.0 Media Manager" (a $45 HD enclosure): USBGEEK.COM
Just buy a 2.5'' IDE HD and put it in and you have a portable, cheap, light and fast way to copy your pictures directly from the memory card. (snip)

With several fully functional hard drives laying around the house stripped from various dead laptops, this may indeed be the cheapest solution for me yet. It's also about as small as one can reasonably expect. Thanks for the suggestion.

stewart
09-19-2007, 12:57 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
(snip) I believe the latest incarnation of this product is the Apacer Disc Steno 200 which can burn images to both CD's AND more importantly DVD's. Check it out at:

Apacer Disc Steno CP-200 Storage Review

Ah, my profound apologies, Richard. I honestly did not follow the link in your previous message and therefore did not fully understand what you were talking about (too busy focusing on the idea of a CD drive in a laptop). However, I did follow your link this time and now understand - a portable CD drive with built-in card reader to backup memory cards. That is a fascinating idea.

It's not exactly tiny at 6.2 inches (157mm) wide by 7.2 inches (184mm) deep, nor cheap either at $260 from Calumet (the lowest price found). But the extra security may indeed negate all that, so I'll definately add it to the (quickly growing) list of possibles. Thanks for your suggestion also.

stewart
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