Backup solution for a photographer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by toksuede, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. toksuede, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    toksuede macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    I really need help.

    My external HDD which is used as a backup has been acting up recently and suffice to say, I'm getting nervous. I just (literally tonight) started looking for backup solutions and was wondering if any of you can help me out.

    From order of importance:

    1. Backup all my photographs. Currently around 250GB worth of data, but I'd like to have a 1TB capacity for a bit of future proof. Since this is where my paycheque comes from, this will be by far the most important data which needs to be backed up.

    2. Full backup of my system. If my MBP decides to quit, I'd like to have a bootable disk image. I currently use SuperDuper! and it works very well. I'd like to have 1 TB here as well for future proof.

    3. Films and music. I have a Mac Mini connected to the TV in the living room which acts as a media centre. If possible, I'd like the new backup solution to host all the media so that it can be distributed to the MBP as well as the Mac Mini. I really don't need more than 500GB for this.

    My knowledge is quite limited when it comes to terminology and technology involving this backing up business, but I did my best (yes, you can laugh):

    1. Have a 3TB extneral disk and partition it 3 ways; photos, system, and media. Can this be a NAS drive so that it could be accessed by the two computers?

    2. RAID 1 enclosure for my photos and system backup. 500GB external NAS drive for media.

    3. Get something like this World Computing/MEQX2T4.0S/ I'm assuming with 4 x 1TB, I can put everything (photo, system, media)?

    Or Synology:

    Or Qnap:

    Or ReadyNAS:

    I live in the UK, so I'm assuming I can't have the QX2 delivered (and it's not a NAS drive?).

    I will also be backing up my photos into the cloud using carbonite or mozy or something. Haven't decided which one.

    To be honest with you, I have no idea if my idiotic solutions make any sense. So here is hoping that you will shed some light to my problems.

    I thank you in advance and I apologize in advance to my utter lack of knowledge.
  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Keep it simple.

    And Cheap.

    If your paycheck comes the photos, then you should two backups. Rotate them so that one is kept offsite. If you are paranoid, and you will become more so as your photography career progresses, you may end up having 3 backups (or more) so that you never have both backups in the same place at once. [With 2 backups, during the swap, you have both in one spot].

    These can be done nightly with SuperDuper. SuperDuper can run more than one scheduled backups. I have my system (sans photos) going to a bootable disk) and then my Lightroom directory going to a different external HD.

    Your Mini could be backed up by using Time Machine to a 3rd External (or to the 2nd partition on the system backup for your main machine). The Mini doesn't really need a bootable backup, though of course you could SuperDuper it as well.

    Cheaper this way. YMMV, and all that. Cheers and Good Luck
  3. toxic, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    just keep at least two backups of your photos and other important data on two separate drives. then, either rotate one offsite, or get a subscription to an online backup website. you can partition a very large drive to keep a bootable backup, or just get a third external.

    I don't see why the backup should need to be visible to both the Mini and whatever else you have. just share the Mini and backup from your MBP...

    RAID is not necessarily a great solution. it's great if you can't afford any downtime at all (in the case of RAID 1), but otherwise you're just introducing another point of failure: the RAID controller. keeping a backup clone is cheaper and still minimizes downtime.

    there's always more elaborate schemes, but that's the most sensible to minimize cost and complexity.
  4. toksuede thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    Thanks snberk and toxic. Really appreciate your input.

    I thought that having a RAID solution as my main backup (also as my media hub) would be a good starting point as if I needed a bigger storage I could just replace the HDD for a bigger capacity. I was also thinking about having it RAID 0 (mirrored) so that if something goes wrong, I'll just have to replace the HDD. I did some research and I am considering Synology DS411, but would it be overkill? Would Synology DS211 be better?

    It will be difficult to keep one backup off site as I travel constantly and it will be great if I can backup from outside the house. But I guess I can carry a portable and backup whatever I've shot during my days out of the house. Therefore I'll go with Carbonite as my "offsite" backup.

    To summarize:

    1. NAS RAID as the main backup.
    2. Portable HDD as a backup whilst working abroad.
    3. Carbonite as my 2nd and off site backup.

    Would this be enough? I do carry all my photos in my MBP so I should consider this as a backup as well, right?

    This feels it's more complicated than it should be...
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Hello Toksuede

    I'm not a Raid expert, so take this advice accordingly.

    Everything I've read about Raid, including many comments on this site, is that from a photographer's point of view, Raid is not a back up solution.

    Raid will allow someone to create massive volumes (spanning several physical HDs with one volume). Not something we need, unless your Lightroom library approaches several TBs.

    Raid allows faster read/writes by, iirc, striping. Something that may be useful as a photographer.... depends on what you do.

    And Raid allows better uptime by 'mirroring'- which is what I think you are referring to. But it's not really a backup. If you are serving up a website, and even 5 minutes of downtime is bad - then by 'mirroring' if one HD fails the system just starts using the other HD. However, you still need to back up the contents of the Raid since if the machine is physically damaged you will lose all the contents.

    Anyway - as I said - I'm not an expert in Raid because after reading about it, I realized I don't need it - so I've not implemented it. I certainly would not use as a back up solution!

    The downtime for a photographer whose HD has gone bad is pretty minimal. You go to the store and buy another HD, and install it and restore from your backup.

    If you need to keep working, you boot off of a bootable backup while the new HD is being shipped to you. I worked for week from a bootable backup late last year. My Mac Pro was in for repairs, and so I booted the MBP from the backup external HD and just keep working away. Everything I needed was right there, including software and all the business files. When the MP came back I started the Restore, and had dinner. A little fussing relicensing some software that had been tied to the logic board, and I was done.

    With the Raid setup, there is more to go wrong, and the recovery is not so clean. And you still need to back it up.

    A bad HD is only one of many things that can go wrong. Liquid spills are common. House fires and theft rank up there. Dropping the thing (kids, pets, loose cords, etc) Power spikes from lightening, or other electrical events. Floods (not necessarily overflowing rivers, but burst pipes). Are you in an apartment? Do you know where your neighbour's pipes are? Are you on a top floor? If not, you can bet money that there is a water pipe somewhere over your head. It doesn't have to be directly over your head - water can run for metres and yards before dropping down a level.... Raid won't protect you from that.

    OK - enough doom and gloom - I'm freaking myself out! :D

    Carbonite is a good solution for your disaster off-site backup, but you still need an easy to use and easy to restore from on-site backup solution. I don't think Raid is it.... but, that's just my personal opinion....
  6. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have about 70+ gig of photos on a Lacie firewire drive. When I connect my digicam (or transfer photos off my iPhone), I don't let iPhoto get in the way. I copy them to the Lacie and then I copy them to an older iomega storcenter. I DON'T RECOMMEND IOMEGA. It's just what happened to be available when I was shopping one day and it has features I like such as the ability to connect by ftp. If I were shopping now, I'd take a look at WD Mydrive (I think) and if cost were no object, I'd have to consider drobo. (Don't forget many of the better NAS units require you to go out and buy drives afterwards!).

    What I've settled on for now is simply adding a 2 TB USB drive to my existing Time Capsule. Yes, that's right. I have multiple NAS drives. The least reliable one is the Time Capsule. I had to send it back for a bad power supply and everything on it was lost so now I've decided my approach to NAS will be to add USB drives so that if the NAS unit dies I can replace it and keep my data.

    As for RAID, I don't think it is particularly helpful unless you go with one of the hot swappable units (I think they cost way more than what I would guess you want to spend).
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I freaked myself out enough that I did what I should have done a while ago... I copied all my photos to a small (physically) external HD and put it into our safety deposit box. Floods, Fires, thefts, taken care of. Earthquakes to a point. Tsunamis too, I think. Bank is pretty close to the harbour, but we're up higher. Of course, if it's a local earthquake/tsunami - I could be in trouble. Maybe if I double wrapped the HD in a couple of ziplocs?
  8. coachingguy macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2003
    The Great White, Albeit Frozen North
    And I thought my father was the only... "extremely cautious" photographer. Made my day!

    He does have his portable (1TB) back up in a dry bag in a safety deposit box...and we live in Minnesota! :D

  9. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    And that made my day... I actually laughed out loud. Really! Thanks!!

    Say 'Hi' to your Dad... sounds like a guy I'd like to know.

  10. toksuede thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2007
    Thanks snberk.

    I think your post was the nail in the coffin for me and you have successfully dissuaded me from getting a RAID drive. At the end of the day, I want my stuff to be secure and that's it.

    So, my dodgey FW 800 external will still be here, but I'm going to go and get another external (enclosure + 1TB 3.5 HDD) and that will be it. I will then either get a 500GB portable drive and give it to my wife so that she can keep it at her office. I'll ask her to bring it back to me once a month and I'll update it.

    As for the cloud storage, well, maybe it's a bit of a overkill at the moment.

    I've never really been that paranoid about losing stuff as I think I can always take something better. But then I don't really want to lose some personal photos just because I wasn't prepared for it.

    As for a NAS, since my house is not big enough, I can just walk over and plug in the USB drive to the Mac Mini or something like that.

    I'd also like to thank the other posters. I really appreciate your help. :)
  11. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Glad to help, and to return the karma ..... :)
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I wouldn't trust a RAID drive, UNLESS you have _two_ of them -- a primary AND a backup.

    The problem with RAID is that if one drive goes bad on you in the RAID array, it makes getting back your data quite difficult.

    Nor would I trust a "single drive' to hold everything. That drive WILL fail on you someday. As the old saying goes, "don't keep all your eggs in one basket".

    Nor would I trust "the cloud" -- ever. What if the cloud [figuratively and/or literally] "blows away"?

    The best solution is to spread the data out amongst individual drives, and have a backup of each drive, with the backups stored in a safe place, such as a building OTHER THAN the one that your computer (and "nearby storage") is located in. If you don't have another building, an acceptable substitute might be a waterproof and fire-resistant storage box in the basement.

    I think you ought to consider something like this: Technology/FWU2ESHDK/
    It makes drive swapping easy, and offers 4 connection methods (USB2, firewire400, firewire800, eSATA).

    For duping drives, you also might consider a _second_ dock. In this case, a low-cost USB/SATA dock would do:
  13. gamhill macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    Here's another cloud based solution, price is $5 per month, per computer. Unlimited storage. Does require and agent to be installed, supports Mac and Windows.

    I haven't tried this service, but if their claims are true it sounds like a good deal. I've avoided cloud based solutions, my concern is what happens to the data if the company folds and goes out of business. At least this solution is encrypted.

    If anyone has used Backblaze, I'd like to hear you comments.

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