Best practice for eternal photo backup/storage?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by walangij, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. walangij, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

    macrumors 6502

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    MI
    #1
    I've been trying to find the best solution for my budget to store family photos/videos from the past 25 years. In total, once scanned & converted, the files should number only around 2-4TB. Cloud storage for this amount is just too expensive for me right now. I've been looking at other storage solutions such as a Drobo, or several external drives. The plan is to duplicate the entire collection so that I have a fully copy and my brother has one as well. Two backups in two geographical locations (fire safes).

    Anyone have a setup/experience in this arena?


    EDIT 1

    The more I look @ different solutions the more I am thinking that I just suck it up and do a cloud storage solution. 4TB is $1024 from Google Docs. Amazon's cloud storage is the same price for 1000GB. The cost of purchasing hard drives, drobo/enclosures, then backing them up for 2 physical locations (thus multiplying all expenses by 2) will likely end up higher than the $1024 a year (though the cost of maintaining will be cheaper over time) but I can only assume that online cloud storage prices will slowly go down over time as well.

    Just for perspective:

    8x 1TB hard drives ~ $60 x 8 = $480
    enclosures = $100-$800 (drobo) x2 = ~$200-$1600
    fire safes = $200 x2 = $400

    the lowest cost estimate is around $1000+, highest cost well above.

    Let me know if my calculations are wildly off or if I'm going about the wrong way completely. I am just concerned about keeping my family's photos/videos (hard copy & digital versions) safe in the best possible way and I'm sure some of you have done so already.
     
  2. TheDrift-, Apr 4, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011

    macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Would you really need the fire safes? $400 to protect $240 worth of drives (only 4 will be at one location??)

    If there is another back up off site in the case of fire you can just recopy from the other.

    Do you really need the enclosures or could you just back up the drives and put them in a friends house, yeah its a pain to keep up to date I guess but it would be much cheaper just to buy a few externals?

    Start looking at this over say 10 years? and the cost look very different to me.
     
  3. macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #3
    I would go with Large External disks to do weekly backups onto which will stay in the fire safes.

    The fire safes aren't there to protect $200 of disks - they are there to protect 25+ years of memories.
     
  4. macrumors newbie

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    Jun 18, 2010
    #4
    I bought a 2TB external disk, created 3 partitions (one for each of our disks) and used CCC to duplicate our set up onto the external and took it to my safe deposit box. A few weeks later (after we'd added a bunch of vacation photos) I bought a 2nd 2TB, CCC'd everything and swapped it for the one in the box. So I've always got a copy offsite. I even stored the power block with the external in the box. I would have used internal disks with a dock if I'd had a good, small container for each disk while not actually in use. (I also have in-home Time Machine and CCC backups for more timely protection.)
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Angelo95210

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    #5
    For $25/y you get unlimited storage at Flickr.
     
  6. ironruby, Apr 5, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011

    macrumors newbie

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    #6
    CrashPlan has unlimited storage, unlimited file versions, etc., and a 4-year subscription is around $140. I use them and am happy.

    The Flickr @ $25/year idea is also good. You could use both CrashPlan and Flickr for extra redundancy.

    However, I would consider offsite backups to be the last line of defense. You should still have a good local backup. For that, you could buy a NAS that supports some form of redundancy to store a backup copy. Here are some options (link to Newegg).

    EDIT: I almost forgot. CrashPlan can also backup to a friend's machine for free. So your brother could buy a NAS and you could backup to that as well. In fact, you could do the initial backup at your place (so it's fast) and then just move the NAS to his place and do incremental backups over the network.
     
  7. macrumors member

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    #7
    There is currently no good solution to the problem of preserving memories as digital files forever. Burned optical discs deteriorate, as far as we know. Hard drives die. Any magnetic media will, for that matter. Cloud storage companies will go out of business, or their business models will change, or their data centers will suffer a disaster. Even file formats become out of date, and operating systems and applications that can view them will too. Imagine if you had an irreplaceable document stored on a 3.5" AmigaDOS floppy disk in Final Writer format and needed to read it today?

    Any of the above technologies is fine for short-term backups, but for long-term, "eternal" preservation of memories such as digital photographs, you're getting into archiving territory, which is another beast altogether.

    For things like photographs, probably the best all-around solution is frankly to print them and store them in multiple locations. For things like video that cannot be printed, you'll need to look at archival methods. This involves storing the digital files on multiple types of media, online and offline, onsite and offsite. You'll need to constantly revisit previously-stored files, transferring them to current media, and possibly converting them to current file formats viewable by current operating systems.

    Here is my workflow: Once digital photos and video are moved off of the cameras and onto my MacBook Pro, they are backed up to another hard drive using Time Machine before I delete them from the camera. Then I copy them to two external hard drives on another computer in my house running Linux, and share them back out via NFS. These are now the referenced masters for my Aperture library. I burn all these files to two copies of optical media. (I'm currently converting from DVD+R to Blu-ray.) One copy of the optical media stays in a lock box in my house, and another goes to my office at work. Every year I make a best-of printed yearbook of that year's family photographs and send it out to my relatives, along with an edited DVD/Blu-ray of the year's home video.

    This sounds like a lot of work. But look at it like this: most people say that if their house catches fire, the first thing they'd run in and save after their children and pets is their photo collection. If you're willing to risk your life for your precious memories, then taking a little extra time on preventative steps so that you'd never have to is immeasurably worth it.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    #8
    If you're working on scanning/converting everything I'm not sure why you need all of this right now. Let's say you start scanning today, there's no need for you to have 2 drobo's with 8 1TB drives it in. Get a couple drives and one of those external drive docking stations and go from there. You can purchase 3TB externals for ~$150 so two of them is a lot less then 2 drobo's.
     
  9. macrumors 603

    Joined:
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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #9
    I'm with dringkor. If you want eternal storage (or at least close as you can get).... photos need to printed, and printed onto archival materials. And then stored properly.

    Consider that photos from 100+ years ago are still easily viewable today. Can you say the same thing about digital images taken 30 years ago? Some, perhaps. If the media is survived. If the media is even readable (think 8.5" floppies). If today's SW can read the file formats (think of WordStar).

    It's not enough to just print, you have to use archival media. Colour photos from the '70s and '80s were not archival, and have not fared well either.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2007
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    MI
    #10
    These are great responses. I was blind to a lot of cheaper solutions than what had been suggested to me previously (b4 posting). I'll check out all the suggestions and then probably begin to explore archiving in depth.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    #11
    Having already lost some photos due to a hard drive failure, I go to great lengths to keep my digital photo library safe.

    Printing is not really cost effective, as I have over a thousand photos, only a few hundred are what I consider precious, but that is still alot to print.

    So, I have redundant photo libraries across three computers, (MBP, macmini, and an imac). Each has its own separate backup drive, and once every month or so my entire collection is backed up on a hard drive that resides in a safe deposit box at my bank, and I also have another hard drive that goes into a fireproof safe at my house.

    Sometime this year I will probably start burning backups onto a blu-ray drive, and for the most precious of the photos will probably invest in a high end printer and print on archival media.
     
  12. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #12
    Yes, you have to have physical copies.

    The Egyptians saved their history by chipping it into rocks. Our civilization will be a complete mystery in a far shorter period of time. Our photos will be gone in a lifetime, or less.

    I am gathering up all the family photos I can get and scanning them. The plan is to print a number of Aperture albums (cuz that's what I have) and distribute them to family members. Perhaps a relative or two will still have one of these a few hundred years in the future.

    I would also like to do this with non-family history like city-scapes, structures and other things that may not last. And my photos that I think may be interesting to people down the road.

    There really isn't another way that will preserve them and keep them organized and easily accessible.

    Of course having redundancy in the short term is important and we can do what we can to keep the digital domaine viable for as long as possible.
     
  13. VirtualRain, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011

    macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #13
    If I was you, I would get one of these for $379.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/ME8Q7T40H128/

    I have a similar external drive that I keep in a drawer in my office. Once a month I take it home, run an incremental backup, and then take it back to the office.

    Keep in mind that uploading 4TB of data (that's 32 Million Megabits of data) to cloud storage at 1Mbps (the speed of most broadband uplinks) would take about 1 year of continuous transfers... and your ISP might have something to say about this after it's all done and hand you a nice overage bill :eek:

    Sometimes sneaker-net is still the best way to go :D
     
  14. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
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    #14
    How effective are fire safes at protecting digital media? Paper documents can survive a fire as long as they don't go above the flashpoint (~450F). Would a hard disk survive that? It's likely the electronics in a hard drive would die even in a fire safe if it was exposed to prolonged heat. And as was mentioned earlier, if you have an offsite backup, the fire safe is not really needed.

    Ruahrc
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    SF Bay Area
    #15
    It depends on the safe. This one is designed to remain below the maximum non-operating temperature and humidity of my my drives for 30 minutes. The drives will go to 158 deg F and 95% humidity, while that safe will remain below 125 deg F and 80% humidity.

    For what it's worth, my home is equipped with a residential fire sprinkler system, so I wouldn't expect it to stay too hot for too long.
     
  16. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #16
    Most cpus will shut down for protection from damage at ~150 f / 70 c. The circuitry in the HD is probably as sensitive to heat. I have seen fire safes advertised as "digital vaults", though.

    Dale

    EDIT: Just found this on Fireproof HDD
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Amazing Iceman

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    Location:
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    #17
    I would suggest using your regular backup hard drive (like the one used for Time Machine) plus two separate sets of drives. These two drives you will only connect to your computer to do your backups, then you can store one with you and the other one offsite.

    RAID is a good protection from hardware failure, but it doesn't protect your data against data corruption; so you don't need to waste money on it.

    Offsite backup is also a good alternative, just make sure there's no fine print that reads: "we are not responsible for data loss".

    EDIT:

    Another great way to preserve your photos is by sharing them among family members who care about these memories. The more copies floating around, the higher the redundancy.
     
  18. macrumors 68030

    Amazing Iceman

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    #18
    Nice fireproof HDs, with one hour fire protection. Too bad their shopping cart is down for maintenance. It seems they picked a bad time to work on it... Unless it doesn't really work.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I just came across those fireproof HD's here. I might have to check out something like that.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #20
    Found these available from Amazon. Reasonable price, too. Another company offers a firesafe that you add the drives to for under $100 USD.

    ioSafe HDD

    Dale
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    Alvi

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    #21
    I have an external HDD and a Pro Flickr account
     
  22. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #22
    Flickr is good for sharing, but the compression applied to the images makes it not so good for back-up. One thing you can do, however, is make a zip file of the photos you want to back-up and upload it to Google Docs. That way you can store original file sizes. You need to keep track of what is in each zip, because Google Docs will only store it for you. You can't see what's in it.

    Dale
     
  23. macrumors newbie

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    Sep 21, 2008
    #23
    Flickr Pro ($25/yr) stores the original images. Here's a list of what Flickr Pro includes.
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #24
    I just renewed my Flickr Pro account, but thanks for the info. Flickr limits your storage to images under 20MB each and converts them to .jpg files. this is OK depending on what you want to do with them. For sharing, this is fine, but it's not a backup. A backup is a file that you can use to replace the original if you lose it. I uploaded a 36MB .tiff to Flickr and got the junk posted below. My Flickr uploader refused to recognize the RAW file I tried to upload from my Aperture 3 vault. The RAW file is the only one I would consider as a backup for the photo. A .jpg of the original is included for comparison.

    Dale
     

    Attached Files:

  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #25
    I'm a windows Lightroom user. Lightroom runs on MS SQL. It's not a networked database so as such, it requires a DAS storage solution.

    DAS = Direct Attached Storage
    vs
    NAS = Network Accessed Storage

    Lightroom plays nice with DAS, not nice with NAS.

    My goal was to keep all of my images in LR, about 3 TBs worth of data in a single catalog. I wanted an automatic way to create a full backup without having to think about it. I settled on:

    One of these:
    http://www.burlystorage.com/index.p...lydualpm&sid=wx49z5630235h8byli68xlzz2v3d55f4

    It is a six bay DAS storage system. I split the space in half, using 3 bays each with 2 TB drives all in a raid 0 format. I filled the other 3 bays with the same, intended as my backup.

    You'll need to add a raid card to your computer. The Burly guys will help recommend and get your system set up.

    I keep my program files on in internal drive and use the DAS to store all of my data. My Lightroom catalog is on the external drive.

    I use Acronis backup http://www.acronis.com/ to copy files from one of the raided drives to the other. It's set to run at 3am daily. I never have to think about running backups.

    For added safety I create an offsite copy about 2x a year and store it at my parents house.
     

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