Best way to store pictures

Started Nov 30, 2012 | Questions
Jasonsmom Regular Member • Posts: 173
Best way to store pictures

I have about run out of room on my computer (where I have my pictures stored).  I bought an external hard drive.  My husband thinks it would be CDs.  I was also wondering about on-line.

What is the best / safest way to store my pictures?

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Limburger
Limburger Veteran Member • Posts: 7,812
Re: Best way to store pictures

Jasonsmom wrote:

I have about run out of room on my computer (where I have my pictures stored). I bought an external hard drive. My husband thinks it would be CDs. I was also wondering about on-line.

What is the best / safest way to store my pictures?

I don't know if the best way but this is what I do.

I bought two same size (storage) external drives. One is permanent and has adapter and wallsocket (it doesn't go anywhere). The other is usb-powered (no adapter and wallsocket needed) and I use as backup at home (I always copy images to both drives) and on a vacation hooked to my netbook to empty my cards.

Another idea is to have another backup (whatever media) at your parents for example. In case your drives get stolen you can fall back on this one.

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Cheers Mike

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Lord Mox Regular Member • Posts: 189
Re: Best way to store pictures

A good quality external hard drive is a better option in my opinion. CDs are prone to defects more often. They are also easier to scratch and ruin. A quality external HD could last for ages. I have one that's I've misused in every way and still going good for more than 7yrs now. Not to mention its easier to transfer files from and to an external hard drive rather than cds...so in my case, if I choose to buy a new HD, just to match new technologies, transferring data won't take more than 20 minutes assuming I have 150 giga or more...how long it will take to transfer data from your cds?? hours may be?

Forget CDs....the world has evolved

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 18,160
Re: Best way to store pictures

No firm answers--only options. I use an external HD and make a second copy on Blu-ray/DVD.

Others prefer multiple hard drives, still others like HD plus on-line storage. Unfortunately, on-line storage can be slow, expensive and the servers are susceptible to getting hacked, damaged (NY floods, for instance) or the company going out of business.

Some folks like RAID setups, but they have problems of their own.

Good luck--everyone has to figure out this headache.

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BobSC Veteran Member • Posts: 3,664
Re: Best way to store pictures

Jasonsmom wrote:

I have about run out of room on my computer (where I have my pictures stored). I bought an external hard drive. My husband thinks it would be CDs. I was also wondering about on-line.

What is the best / safest way to store my pictures?

There is neither "best" nor "safest". There are some ways that might be better for you, and there are some things that are safer.

As far as better for you, that depends in part on how technically sophisticated you and/or your husband is. One strategy I use, is when my drive gets full I get a new one. I use clonezilla to duplicate the old drive to the new, pull the old drive from my system and put it on a shelf. Now I have a backup of everything at that point in time. This has, unfortunately, resulted in the situation where I now have 8 drives on my floor, and I don't know what's on any of them, because we moved and they all got mixed together. Sigh.

Something else I do, is that when I get back from a trip I burn photos onto a DVD and bring them into work. I use the printers there to make some prints, and I stack the DVDs on top of the PC. If my house burns down I won't have everything, but I'll still have a lot. Whenever I burn those DVDs I fill them up with the most recent stuff, so if one fails then it will probably be on another.

I never trust cd/dvd discs though. They can fail. One of the things that can make them fail is the burner being out of spec. There is no easy way to test for this on most burners. You could make a disc today that is barely within spec and it might fail next week. On the other hand I have some CDs that were burned 23 years ago that still work.

Online has some advantages. If you were living on the Jersey Shore and you backed up online, you'd have whatever you put there, even if your house was one that is completely gone now. From that point of view, the DP Review galleries can preserve some photos for you, as could gmail (mail it to your Mom and it's in your sent items). The downside to any third party online service (including gmail) is that they could cease to exist at any time. Sometimes companies go bankrupt with no warning.

Bottom line: the more places you can put your images the safer they are. So you can use an external drive, a DVD, and online all together. If one fails, then maybe the other two will protect you. If I can get my self organized I'm going to put my most valuable data on one of those harddrives that's on my floor and bring it into the office. Or maybe take it to my parents house.

If you have more than one PC and a network, you might want to look at one of the Network Attached Storage drives. I recently got a Seagate Goflex Home. It plugs into the router. I'm thinking I don't like it though, but a lot of people do. On the good side, all the PCs can store stuff on it, and you can share folders both at home and across the internet. On the down side, for some reason Retrospect backup software doesn't seem to see the drive at all, and that's why I got it! I need to do more research though to see if I can find a way to get it to work.

Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 22,688
Re: Best way to store pictures

Jasonsmom wrote:

I have about run out of room on my computer (where I have my pictures stored). I bought an external hard drive. My husband thinks it would be CDs. I was also wondering about on-line.

What is the best / safest way to store my pictures?

CDs are, in my opinion, a terrible option.  They only hold about 700MB of data.  If your full res images are 4MB on average, for example that's only 175 images.  For comparison, my 16GB memory card holds about 600 raw images from my 7D.

DVDs are only marginally better.  The biggest problem I have with discs is the sheer number required to keep things backed up.  It's a logistical nightmare to keep them catalogued and then to find something later.

I'd suggest not one, but at least 2 external drives.  If the external drive is your only means of storage then get 3 - one for the primary and 2 backups.  I store my images on a second internal drive in my pc, and back them up to 2 different external hard drives.

Mark

Sapper987 Forum Member • Posts: 52
Re: Best way to store pictures

Agree with all that there is not a "best" way, there are several ways and we each define what is best for us given individual wants and needs.

Personally, my wants and needs got me a network attached storage device with 6TB. It's configured to have two 3TB bays that are redundant. Then, I back up everything to an external hard drive once a week and keep that in a fireproof, waterproof safe. So I have basically 3 copies of everything. Two on the NAS, one in the safe. When I do a backup, I go through and delete out RAW files that are over a year old and not in a collection (in LR). The D800 is a data hog.

donaldsc Senior Member • Posts: 2,929
Re: Best way to store pictures

You want to have storage in 3 (or 4) places -

1) a hard drive next to your computer and provides immediate backup

2) a hard drive stored off site in a safe place so that if your house burns down, you have not lost your photos

3) automatic cloud storage that backs up your files as you change them so that you can recover your stuff anywhere in the world if you have to

4) if you are really paranoid, a 2nd cloud storage site so that you are covered if the 1st cloud site goes bankrupt and disappears without telling you.

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Don

dd photography New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Best way to store pictures

Great question.  Managing our image server at work I ask myself these questions every day. I would recommend the following:

1. Least Expensive, least protection:
    - Single external drive that everything gets backed up to

2. Mid price, good protection:

- Single external drive that everything gets backed up to
   - On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

3. Most expensive, virtually bulletproof:

- Drobo external drives (Drobos are awesome.  I've got three of them at work and they work as advertised) or any external array that has built in redundancy
   - On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

I hope that helps!

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Daniel
www.danielduboisphotography.com

donaldsc Senior Member • Posts: 2,929
Re: Best way to store pictures

dd photography wrote:

Great question. Managing our image server at work I ask myself these questions every day. I would recommend the following:

1. Least Expensive, least protection:
- Single external drive that everything gets backed up to

2. Mid price, good protection:

- Single external drive that everything gets backed up to
- On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

3. Most expensive, virtually bulletproof:

- Drobo external drives (Drobos are awesome. I've got three of them at work and they work as advertised) or any external array that has built in redundancy
- On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

I hope that helps!

-- hide signature --

Daniel
www.danielduboisphotography.com

The problem with most people doing backups is that they may do an initial backup when they purchase their backup hardware/software solution but they do not ensure that the backup is current.  A backup that is several months old or older is marginally better than useless.

One advantage of using an on line backup system such as Carbonite is that you can configure it to monitor specific directories and to automatically upload any files that are changed.

If you do a local backup, you need to set up an automatic schedule so that your potential loss is minimal.

If you do the onsite / offsite 2 disk backup, you need to remember to switch out the disks as regular intervals.

Bottom line is that backups are a total pain to do.

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Don

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 5,680
Re: Best way to store pictures

Jasonsmom wrote:

I have about run out of room on my computer (where I have my pictures stored). I bought an external hard drive. My husband thinks it would be CDs.

Any single solution is wrong.

The correct solution, as seen in the earlier replies, is a multi-pronged strategy where migration is assumed. A single hard drive is a potential disaster because all hard drives fail, it's only a question of time. Two or more duplicate hard drives is the minimum along with software that lets you easily and quickly update your backup drives.

There is literally a huge problem with CDs. Even if CDs were more reliable than hard drives, they are much, much too small for today's huge photo/video libraries. No photographer talks about CDs anymore, it's DVDs at minimum. Now I'm using camera cards that are 16GB, 32GB... to back up a 32GB camera card takes almost seven DVDs or over fifty CDs. But that's just one card! If you have a photo archive of 1TB (not uncommon), you'll need over 200 DVDs or almost 1500 CDs!! If you are shooting lots of raw images with today's high-megapixel cameras, you simply do not have the time to sit there and burn the number of optical disks you would need to back up today's memory cards. Just think of how long that would take.

Hard drives are so fast it is easy and quick to back them up and update them, and also to migrate them to newer drives. You must plan on migrating to newer drives. This is also a benefit. Since drives keep getting bigger and cheaper, migrating an old photo library to a new drive usually takes fewer drives (i.e. a collection once stored on three 500GB drives can now fit on just one 2TB drive with room to spare) and the new drive is faster. Sure, hard drives can fail, but if you have multiple copies, you reduce your risk.

If you did have 1500 CDs of your archive, how long does it take you to back them up to another 1500 CDs (after all, some CDs/DVDs will fail). Literally weeks of your life to do that. With a hard drive, you click one button and it's done in minutes.

You must plan on migrating your entire library because there is no guarantee that even if you had a "100-year archival CD" the computers in 100 years would have a CD drive, not to mention a proper operating support for the drive and support for the file system. (Note that right now, popular Macs and PCs are already being sold that have no optical drive at all! How do you read your "100-year archival CD" on those...) You have to keep moving the library to current media. Always and forever into the future.

What about online? Sure, go ahead, it's another copy, which is a good thing, but don't make it your only backup. It would probably take you too long to download it all if you needed to. When the Digital Railroad online photo service failed, they announced a limited amount of time left they had money to run the service, and so the photographer members all tried to download their images at once. Naturally, they all overwhelmed the system and downloads would only trickle in, with no chance of entire libraries completing their downloads before funding ran out. Photographers were angry and despondent. You must have a good local backup that you can get to quickly.

John Deerfield Veteran Member • Posts: 3,014
Re: Best way to store pictures

Currently, the best, least expensive option is using multiple hard drives. That hasn't always been the case. Nor would I assume that it will always be the case. One of the first truths you must come to terms with is that ANY media is going to fail over time. It isn't a matter of if it will fail, it is simply a matter of when it will fail. Once you learn this, it becomes apparent that the only real protection is redundancy. If need more than one copy of all your data. Lets say you have 100GB of images. If you don't, you soon will have. And you probably have more than that now. Backing up 100GB to optical media is very time consuming. Additionally, you need to map out what you have backed up, what is one the back up disc should it fail, and what still needs to be backed up. Logistically this is a mess. And the mess only gets bigger and bigger the more your storage needs increase. So I repeat, the best option is using hard drives. All of your data is kept on an external hard drive. You back this drive up to yet another external hard drive. There are several different workflow solutions that will back up your data almost automatically. Depending on your level of risk tolerance, you may want a third or even fourth back up drive. Imagine living on the Jersey shore... you might have wanted to keep one hard drive off site at a location that wasn't hit by the storm or a bank safety deposit box. Again, it depends on your risk tolerance.

All of that said, you do NOT need a DROBO or any other ill-conceived RAID set up. For 99% of the consumer population, these are a complete waste of money (just ask Scott Kelby). A redundant raid protects you from one thing and one thing only: a hard drive failure. That is all it protects you from, period. It does not protect you from yourself accidentally deleting a file. It does not protect you from a corrupt directory as if the directory is corrupt on one drive, it is corrupt on the other. As a matter of fact, there are so many more reasons your data could be lost or compromised other than hard drive failure. This simply means you still need to have a back up of your data! Since you now have this much needed back up drive, why one earth spend more money on a RAID??

Finally, the other "hidden" advantage to hard drives will be their speed. 20-years from now, we may not be using hard drives. We will need to migrate our data to whatever the newer technology is (remember 5 1/4 floppies?!). Now close your eyes and try to images moving data off of 100's of optical discs collected over the years or moving data from hard drives... both are going to take some time. But you might be able to do it while still living if using hard drives. Good luck accomplishing that with optical media.

BobSC Veteran Member • Posts: 3,664
Re: Best way to store pictures

dd photography wrote:

Great question. Managing our image server at work I ask myself these questions every day. I would recommend the following:

1. Least Expensive, least protection:
- Single external drive that everything gets backed up to

2. Mid price, good protection:

- Single external drive that everything gets backed up to
- On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

3. Most expensive, virtually bulletproof:

- Drobo external drives (Drobos are awesome. I've got three of them at work and they work as advertised) or any external array that has built in redundancy
- On-line backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, etc)

I hope that helps!

-- hide signature --

Daniel
www.danielduboisphotography.com

I find a SATA dock much more versatile than an external drive.

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 5,680
Re: Best way to store pictures

BobSC wrote:

I find a SATA dock much more versatile than an external drive.

I think it's a better solution technically, so I've moved to this too, but anyone who does this just has to realize that bare drives are a lot more fragile than drives in external enclosure. I now use a SATA dock for my offsite-rotated backups, but I also bought a bunch of plastic storage cases for hard drives to protect them adequately during transport.

I wouldn't use a SATA dock for a drive meant to be connected/disconnected frequently because I'm not sure the connectors are rated for that frequency of connection.

BobSC Veteran Member • Posts: 3,664
Re: Best way to store pictures

graybalanced wrote:

BobSC wrote:

I find a SATA dock much more versatile than an external drive.

I think it's a better solution technically, so I've moved to this too, but anyone who does this just has to realize that bare drives are a lot more fragile than drives in external enclosure. I now use a SATA dock for my offsite-rotated backups, but I also bought a bunch of plastic storage cases for hard drives to protect them adequately during transport.

I wouldn't use a SATA dock for a drive meant to be connected/disconnected frequently because I'm not sure the connectors are rated for that frequency of connection.

Valid points. I use a pelican case to transport bare drives.

regarding the connectors, they don't appear to be any less fragile than those on an SD card. But who knows?

John E Fox
John E Fox Regular Member • Posts: 245
Re: Best way to store pictures

I use an external hard drive via a USB port.

The price for these is still dropping, so maybe a couple of these stored around the house just in case one gets damaged etc.

I have also split my photos into archive and current.This reduces the number of files that I have to back up on a regular basis.

I store the hard drive in a home made fire safe, enclosed in a poly bag. Should be water and fire proof. ( I hope ).

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donaldsc Senior Member • Posts: 2,929
Re: Best way to store pictures

I store the hard drive in a home made fire safe, enclosed in a poly bag. Should be water and fire proof. ( I hope ).

I would worry about this aspect of your plan - especially the idea that your safe is "home made".

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Don

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 5,680
Re: Best way to store pictures

donaldsc wrote:

I store the hard drive in a home made fire safe, enclosed in a poly bag. Should be water and fire proof. ( I hope ).

I would worry about this aspect of your plan - especially the idea that your safe is "home made".

I would worry too.

I have a fire-safe file cabinet. But I also read the data sheet that came with it. It's rated to protect contents at a certain number of minutes at a certain temperature...and assumes paper records. This is important.

There are also "media safes" out there. They are rated to protect electronic media, like backup tapes and drives, at a given temperature and time span. But the standards are higher, because in high heat, electronics will die sooner than paper. I could not afford to buy a fire safe rated for media...they seem to start at several thousand dollars.

Good fire safes are also structurally reinforced under the assumption that if the safe falls through the burning floor and you later have to fish it out of the smoking remains of your house, it didn't break open or was crushed by the rest of the house.

The best safe storage for electronic media is off site in a place like a bank safe deposit box. I guess we do the best we can afford when our media has to be stored at home or office, but just remember that a fire safe has rated limits and you need to know what they are. I assume the protection offered by a "home-made" fire safe would be pretty limited.

Josh Hunt Regular Member • Posts: 245
Re: Best way to store pictures

Hard drives are cheap. I would have one in a second location (say, work)

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Scott6809 New Member • Posts: 3
Re: Best way to store pictures

I do the following.

Back up on network drive within my house. I paid under $200 for it and it also acts like a media center which allows me to stream the picture directly to my TV. So when my wife wants to show pictures to friends they can see it on the big screen.

I also store a copy using a cloud service. The nice thing about that is, if your house burns down  or someone breaks in and steals laptop/drive you still have a copy in a remote location.  Hopefully the last scenarios I described don't happen to anyone.

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