Time Machine vs RAID 1

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jtblueberry, Feb 14, 2008.

  1. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Pismo Beach, CA
    #1
    EDIT:

    I have always kept one backup of my photography files on an external hard drive. Now that I am moving to Lightroom from Capture One I am finding there are many more things that need to be backed up.
    Right now, I have my system set up like this:
    500GB boot drive backed up by 500GB external firewire drive.
    1TB "photography drive" backed up by matching 1TB drive in an external eSATA enclosure. I am using Time Machine for that.
    I guess the question now would be is it worth the extra cost of a third back up (2 hard drives in my case)? If so, I could use the third drive as a second back up but what would be best:
    1. 2 working drives in raid 1 with 3rd drive as time machine backup
    2. 1 working drive with 2 time machine backup drives in raid 1
    3. 1 working drive with 2 separate time machine backup drives

    I should mention that I will go through at least 1TB of storage per year. I am using Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB Hard Drives that cost $320 each. I will replace my photography hard drive and backups of the photography hard drive each year but my boot drive and boot drive backups will not be replaced.

    I don't have the luxury of investing in expensive hardware raid set ups as I do want to keep as much money in my pocket as possible. I'm pretty meticulous and haven't lost anything to speak of in over 5 years of digital photography so I want to be safe but don't want to break the bank doing it.
     
  2. scotthayes macrumors 68000

    scotthayes

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    #2
    If the photos are that important I'd go RAID 1 with a tape/DVD backup (not time machine)
     
  3. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    #3
    Honestly I'd do Time Machine. It's essentially the same as Raid 1 with the addition of being able to use previous versions. The only downside is that it backs up once an hour instead of instantly but I guess if there is something urgent you can trigger it to backup immediately.

    A dvd backup on occassion wouldn't hurt either.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #4
    Do not use a RAID1 as a `backup', it's not. Definitely go for Time Machine or any other incremental backup solution (not just cloning!).

    You can use a RAID1 for Time Machine, though.
     
  5. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    How long does time machine take to backup a hard drive with 500gb of photos on it? I assume it takes awhile on first backup, but what about after that? How long would the hourly backups take?

    I hate backing up to optical media. I agree that time machine makes more sense for me at this point. I guess the question now would be is it worth the extra cost of a third hard drive? If so, I could use the third drive as a second back up but what would be best:
    1. 2 working drives in raid 1 with 3rd drive as time machine backup
    2. 1 working drive with 2 time machine backup drives in raid 1
    3. 1 working drive with 2 separate time machine backup drives
     
  6. pprior macrumors 65816

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    Aug 1, 2007
    #6
    Well first let me say this, Canon Pro Services defines professional as someone who earns more than 50% of their income from photography. If that applies to you then I think you need to choose even more aggressive options than you list.

    I'm a "professional" in that I sell some of my work, but I'm much higher paid at my day job, so I don't meet the strict definition. However even I have the following: RAID1 array in which my aperture library is saved, a Vault (backup) made as well and time machine backs this up. In addition I have a Raid 5 NAS to which i back up my files. On top of that I have been trying to get Mozy to work (unsuccessfully) as an off-site backup.

    the short message - if your data is your livlihood, you need overkill on backup, and what you describe does not meet that.

    A 500-750gb drive is just a bit over a hundred bucks nowdays - if you're earning money on your work, then that's a small price to pay.

    I would recommend:

    1) RAID1 software array
    2) Time machine backup of that
    3) Another backup that you take offsite (either DVD or another HD).

    Also keep in mind that time machine is much better for USER error - i.e. you delete files by accident that you needed. So TM protects in ways that RAID1 cannot. I work in Aperture, so I'm not editing my original file (alll raw files remain pristine), but if you're shooting JPG or altering your original, you know the potential for a big OOPS there.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Few minutes at most. It only copies new files or files that have been changed, you won't even notice it.

    The first backup essentially takes as long as it take to copy 500 GB from one harddrive to another.
    First of all, my guess is that you'll use a software RAID. So if there is one mistake in your software, an unfortunate crash or bug (or user error, the most common source of problems), poof, all of your data is gone. Furthermore, a RAID1 does not keep extra copies of your data. So if you delete files by mistake (again, this is usually the most common source of data loss), then it's gone. Or you overwrite your favorite photo, it's gone.

    With incremental backup solutions (and Time Machine is one such solution), you can go back in time and recover files and older versions at will. If there is some catastrophic data loss and a lot of files are deleted, you can still go back and recover them easily.

    A RAID1 protects you against hardware failure of harddrives, an incremental backup solution protects you against data loss. By the way, cloning is also as bad of a backup solution as a RAID1.
     
  8. thetoness macrumors member

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    Jan 16, 2008
    #8
    What is the difference between a hardware and software raid?

    I was wondering if someone could explain the difference between a hardware and software raid? How would would one go about implementing either one? Thanks
     
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #9
    A software RAID does the mirroring in software. Thus, it depends on your Operating System to work properly. You cannot transfer the disks to another Mac and start using them again, this would break your RAID1 and you would lose all data.

    A hardware RAID does not depend on your OS to do the mirroring. You either have to buy a RAID enclosure or a hardware RAID controller. Then the function of the RAID is independent of the state of your OS. This solution is not so cheap.

    In either case, forget about a RAID1 and go with Time Machine: it's cheaper and actually a real backup.
     
  10. hodgjy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2005
    #10
    I'm a grad student. I can't afford to lose any data because that means I won't graduate on time (if ever if I lose it all).

    So, here is my backup strategy.

    1) Internal HD has all my files.
    2) Time Machine backs this up to Ext HD1. This drive is never turned off.
    3) I manually copy my important files to Ext HD2. This drive is only turned on when I need to copy files to it.
    4) I have an older, smaller Ext HD3 that I make monthly backups to. This hard drive is then put on a bookshelf and pulled out for usage when I need it.
    5) I make frequent backups of my Home Folder to CDs and/or DVDs.
    6) I have a usb thumb drive that houses my Microsoft Office documents.

    Is this overkill? Some may think so. However, I've always believed that data is expensive and that media are cheap. Backup backup backup.
     
  11. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Pismo Beach, CA
    #11
    Thanks for the post. My wife and I make 100% of our income on photography so I'll take your concerns and recommendations seriously.
    I have always kept one backup of my photography files on an external hard drive. Now that I am moving to Lightroom from Capture One I am finding there are many more things that need to be backed up.
    Right now, I have my system set up like this:
    500GB boot drive backed up by 500GB external firewire drive.
    1TB "photography drive" backed up by matching 1TB drive in an external eSATA enclosure. I am using Time Machine for that.
    I guess the question now would be is it worth the extra cost of a third back up (2 hard drives in my case)? If so, I could use the third drive as a second back up but what would be best:
    1. 2 working drives in raid 1 with 3rd drive as time machine backup
    2. 1 working drive with 2 time machine backup drives in raid 1
    3. 1 working drive with 2 separate time machine backup drives

    I should mention that I will go through at least 1TB of storage per year. I am using Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB Hard Drives that cost $320 each. I will replace my photography hard drive and backups of the photography hard drive each year but my boot drive and boot drive backups will not be replaced.

    I don't have the luxury of investing in expensive hardware raid set ups as I do want to keep as much money in my pocket as possible. I'm pretty meticulous and haven't lost anything to speak of in over 5 years of digital photography so I want to be safe but don't want to break the bank doing it.:D
     
  12. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    #12
    RAID is fault-tolerant storage, it's not backup! What you could do is to use RAID-array as a backup-media, but simply using a RAID-array as your everyday drive and relying on it's fault-tolerance for backup is NOT smart!

    What I would do and what would be doable for mere mortals is a master-disk that has your content (usually the built-in HD), and that drive gets backed up to an external RAID-array. There's plenty of FireWire RAID-arrays and the like.

    For extra protection I would have two such drives that are rotated for backup. One is stored off-site and the other would be next to the computer. That way you have backup even if your home is burgled or burns down.
     
  13. hodgjy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2005
    #13
    The cost of losing your pictures is surely much more than the few hundred dollar costs of buying some more external hard drives.

    You can never have enough backups.

    I'm not a pro photographer, but I am an avid amateur. I spend a lot of time over at www.dpreview.com and their forums. If you don't already, you might want to check them out.

    Here's what several of the photogs over there do.

    1) After each shoot, immediately burn at least 2 copies of your raw files to DVDs. Put away in safe, dry, fireproof box.

    2) Burn at least 2 DVDs of your finished pictures.

    3) Then, they each apply their own external hard drive backup scheme.


    I think the more copies you have, the better off you are.

    While Time Machine is nice, I wouldn't trust it to save my arse in an emergency. It's great at keeping snapshots of your computer, but it's not the best option out there for permanently archiving your photos.

    This is what I would do, if I were you:

    1) Do the DVD backup I mentioned above.

    2) Back up your 1 tb photo drive at least twice. That means a total of three drives. If that means three separate enclosures or 1 drive backed up by 1 raid enclosure is totally up to you. In the end, it's the same in my opinion.
     
  14. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    Location:
    The Dallas 'burbs
    #14
    If you're only doing 3 drives I'd do one in the comp, 2 separate TM backups, one of which is always off-site and I'd rotate them frequently, weekly at the worst, daily if possible.

    If a 4th drive is added I'd go get a hardware RAID card and do a RAID 1 array in the machine to protect against a single HD failure, and do the same with the TM backups as above.

    5 drives would be a RAID 1 in the machine and 3 TM backups rotated with 2 offsite in different locations.

    6 I'd either have more offsite backups or RAID 1 the TM backups.

    after that I'd see a psychologist since I'd be on the verge of an obsessive compulsive disorder....:D

    Another helpful option would be to invest in a pro-level flickr account (free if you have att/yahoo DSL) unlimited storage and it keeps the full resolution photos (although formats may be stuck at JPEG). You can lock down the account so no one can get to the photos, and it's another decent offsite piece of mind.
     
  15. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Pismo Beach, CA
    #15
    Thanks for all the advice. I guess I'm being convinced to do double back-up instead of just one back up.

    This is the set up I'll be looking to upgrade to:
    500gb internal boot drive
    500gb internal backup drive in external eSATA enclosure (boot backup #1)
    500gb internal backup drive in external eSATA enclosure (boot backup #2)
    1tb internal photography drive
    1tb internal backup drive in external eSATA enclosure (photography backup #1)
    1tb internal backup drive in external eSATA enclosure (photography backup #2)

    I decided to forget about RAID 1. Instead I'll backup my boot drive and photography drive to two different hard drives in external enclosures each. I'll do that at the end of each day for my boot drive and my photography drive (or after a big project). Then i'll keep one of the backups in a different location. To do this I only need two more hard drives and a couple more enclosures...heck I might keep one backup internal.

    Does that make sense? Is that overkill enough to be good enough without being obsessive compulsive : ) ?

    I'm planning on using Time Machine. Is there a reason that wouldn't be as good as another back up software?

    As for DVD backup...I did that for a year and have boxes of dvd's and cd's. To me hard drives make way more sense. Software should make this an almost seamless and fast process. No?
     
  16. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The Dallas 'burbs
    #16
    I wouldn't put any of the backups as an internal drive and frequently (at least weekly) rotate the external backup drive so that the offsite one is never older than your rotation schedule and you never have both backups in the house at the same time. (take the current backup with you to rotate the off-site drive)

    Putting one internal puts them both at risk and would mean that all drives would be in your house simultaneously when updating your offsite, which, in the unlikely event that something catastrophic happens that particular day could take out all of your data, and the closer proximity the original HD and backup are to each-other will also increase the possibility that an event can take them both out.

    Since you rely on the data for your livelihood, keep them both external and rotate frequently, if possible never have all 3 drives in the same location.

    An internal RAID 1 would be some added security against a single internal HD failure (which an internal backup would do similarly), but with data that my paycheck depended on I wouldn't sacrifice a backup drive for it.
     
  17. pprior macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #17
    Think of it this way - the RAID1 option makes it less likely that you'll crash and lose data in the first place. It may keep you from having to do a restore and all the downtime (maybe under deadline) that goes along with it. So I personally value the Raid1 part of my system.

    The backup part is where time machine shines - you can go back in time and find a file that you accidentally erased which is key.

    Good advice by many above, we all have to decide how paranoid we want to be, but personally since you're a true professional I wouldn't be skimping on backing up your data. Just imagine meeting a bride's family and explaining that you lost all their wedding pictures :eek:

    One thing you may find is that you'll use a lot less space if you move to LR and/or Aperture - once I started NOT making multiple TIFF copies of RAW edits, I started saving a bunch of space. The nondestructive editing is great.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  18. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

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    Pismo Beach, CA
    #18
    yep i just switched to lightroom from capture one so i'm used to the whole raw workflow thing. I've shot raw for years...it's nice that there is now software affordable enough and intuitive enough for everyone to join the party. Because I do this for a business, profitability is always an issue. Rotating the backups every other day makes sense. I'll keep one set of hard drives in a separate location so that all backups are never in one place.
    I can't justify 4 sets of hard drives for my boot and my photography drive (total of 8 hard drives) so I'll skip the raid and double time machine instead. In a worst case I can take my external backup to my laptop and get through a deadline if I can't get my desktop going again right away after a crash.
     
  19. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #19
    something else to consider as "Cheap Insurance" is to buy a domain that comes with a huge chunk of storage included in its annual fee.

    For example, I've picked up a domain at fatcow.com and for roughly $100/year, I have 300GB of "website hosting" storage space. Since I don't have 300GB worth of webpages, I don't need to use all that space for just that application.

    Thus, whenever I have bandwidth to use, I log in via FTP and start transferring a copy of my stuff.

    Currently, I'm using iPhoto (the current version with one "giant file" in the Finder). But in FTP, I can see the actual subdiretories, so I'm going through these subdirectories by date...oldest first...so that once I get caught up, I'll only have to the incremental add of just the newest stuff.

    Since the ISP does monthly backups as part of the service fee, and its off-site, it seems to me to be cheap insurance for my needs, particularly since I was going to be paying to have a domain hosted anyway.

    Overall, my biggest problem is that I'm running on el-cheapo DSL connection, so if I run the FTP upload at 24/7, its only going to take something like 40 days for my current volume of images :) To prevent ticking off my ISP for bandwidth consumption (perhaps these speeds already include some throttling?), I'm not going to do it all in one fell swoop, but split it up into logical segments and just slowly plug away at it over the next ~6 months until I'm caught up.



    -hh
     
  20. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    Not practical for the amount of info i'm dealing with...good thought though.
     
  21. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #21
    If you were to ask a profession who works in the IT business about backup he's ask you do work from the threat analysis. First think about all the ways you can loose data and which is the most likely to happen.

    People think about disk failure but those are not nearly as common as "operator screw ups" where the wrong file is draged to the trash. Of software failures are a files gets corrupted. This is the #1 threat to your data

    Yes disk failures do happen too. The typical life of a drive a maybe five years.

    The next thing to worry about is actually common. Theft of equipment or a fire or
    water damage.

    There is a forth threat but it may not applie to home users -- employee sabotage. Intentional destruction of data. A business would have to plan for this kind of insider attack

    ########

    RAID only address the failed disk problem. It can lower the probibilty of a failure

    Time Machine is an incremental backup. It can cover the cases of huma or software failures where one or a few files are damaged and it can add redundancy in case of a disk failure like RAID can

    Fire/theft protection means you need an off site backup

    ########

    Basic rules of thumb:

    1) Data needs to be one three different media at ALL times
    2) Data needs to be at two different geographical locations at all times

    Note about #1. When to make a new backup be over writing an old one,
    the old backup no longer "counts" to the required three and only "counts"
    again after the backup is complete. Drives are actually more likely
    to fail _durring_ backups than at other times, the backup operation it
    self is stressfull to the drive, more stressful than normal operation.
    So "three" really means "four"

    ######

    A good plan, if you really do make your living off your data is to use
    Time machine to keep a copy of yur work. and then periodically
    "clone" your Time Machine drive to one of severaldrives you keep
    for that purpose. Take you time machine clone after it is done
    out of the house th farther away the better. Keep another clone of
    the TM backup inside a media safe in another room.

    So count it up. You have the working copy, another copy in the time machine
    and then two clones of the TM disk. Four copies total with one copy
    always off-site and the other copy off-line stored (where a power spike
    or operator error can't reach it)

    This may sound eccessive but yu are trying to prevent that once in fifty
    years freak accident. If you don't worry about those one in 50 year events then your
    data will not live 50 years.
     
  22. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2007
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    Pismo Beach, CA
    #22
    That all makes sense. So if I rotate my backup every other day, leaving one at my studio and keeping one at my computer at home, the most I can lose is one day worth of stuff (I do my editing at home). That's if I somehow lose both the main hard drive and the back up that is connected at the same time. This could be avoided by adding a fourth hard drive as described above. After thinking about it I figure my work environment is about as safe as you could imagine so I feel good about two hard drives for back up vs three, however, I do hear your the points being made. I'll certainly consider adding more backup as my budget permits. I already have 2 Canon 5D's, a 2.8 Octo Mac Pro with 14 gb ram, and all of these hard drives to write off....and it's only February. I'm glad everything is so clear. Thanks for all the advice.
     
  23. sonor macrumors 6502

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    #23
  24. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #24
    The thing to watch for is not a failed disk. The worse thing is a silent data corruption. Say some files gets a few bis flipped or you say save a file and spec the name wrong and over write something you wanted. This might happen onece every couple years or twice in a week and you never notice untill you want the file that is damaged and it's not there.

    Making full (non-incremental) backups is the worst thing you can do relative to the above problem. Let's say you just unknowingly damaged a file and then you do a backup. What you have just done is written over the only good copy of the file, the copy that was written to the backup drive last week, you just wipped this out and wriote the damaged version to the backup drive.

    Backup systems like "super duper" drive cloner _sound_ good and beginners like to easy to understand nature of "just cloning the disk" but it really a poor idea. Notice the Time Machine tries hard never to over write data. If a file is changed it stored both the new and old versions of the file. Incremental backups like this are MUCH better but for years Incrementals were well outside of the skill set of the average user. Time Machine addressed this problem and made Incremental backups easy. "Retrospect" does Incremental too and is a bet more powerfull and configurable then TM, but harder to use and understand. Mac OS ships with "dump" another Incremental backup program but few people know about it or use it.

    I would suggest not copying ALL your data, just the changes. TM makes t easy, just "ping pong" two TM backup drives and keep the inavtive ("pong'ed"? drive off site)

    As your data grows at some point it will not all fit on one drive, even a terrabyte size drive and you will be fored to used RAID boxes rather then drives.
     
  25. jtblueberry thread starter macrumors regular

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    Pismo Beach, CA
    #25
    Sounds like you came to the same conclusion I did. That's what i'll be doing except when the TB drives fill up, i'll store them and get new ones (I expect that to happen about once per year which works out great). If I get a re-order from the old drive i'll plug one in, do what I have to do, and put it back into storage. I'll store one copy on-site and one copy-off site. I can rotate my old drives out for storage and move new drives into their place (that way no drive gets used for more than about 2 years).
     

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