Photography Club of India

Learn Photography & Knowledge base => Tips, Tutorials & Interviews => Topic started by: theqca on July 12, 2014, 01:04:20 AM

Title: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: theqca on July 12, 2014, 01:04:20 AM
A quick write-up on backing up your photos after each photo shoot...this isnt the only way however this is an easy and cost effective way of doing things....there are other ways of doing this too..so if you feel something else works better for you do share it here.

There are also automated methods of backup. Something like what most BPOs use where data gets automatically copied from one server to the other at set intervals however I'm suggesting a simple easy to use back up solution and I'm not going to go into automated back up's

Before you actually start taking back-ups, think of a good naming / filing / labeling system that you will use...something that is easy to remember and recollect what it means. You can label your photo back up as "DroidSigma244XT#$%Victor" but if you cant remember what that means and which photos that refers to it aint going to help. Instead chose something that refers to the date and location or photo type.

One thing i learnt while i did an MCSE years ago was that all data storage devices have chances of failing at some point in time.  Secondly, everything that's online as well as digitized, at some point in time will face the chance of a data or security breach.


Which means that there exists a chance that your images may just disappear or get into someone else's hands at some point in time. Now you really cant do anything to prevent this from happening - shit happens...what you can do is make it more difficult for you to lose everything in one go when things go horribly wrong.

You need to decide how important your photographs are to you..if you feel they are not important and you can afford to lose them, then dont bother with a back up or anything...but if you feel that your photos are important to you then spend a fraction of the cost as well as time that you've spent in taking those photos, on taking a back up.

Data security and storage issues start as soon as you take the photograph. So you need to transfer photos from your SD / CF card to a hard disk at the earliest. Accidents can happen - cards have been known to fail or give trouble. Imagine coming back home from a 2 week trip and then realizing that ur photos are gone. Even if the card is fine, you can end up accidentally deleting a photo..or worse - formatting the card :D For those of you who use more than one card check if you store the other card in the right manner...leave it around carelessly to be knocked about in that big camera bag and you'll end up with a not so pleasant surprise the next time you put it in the camera.

To cut a long story short -  Transfer from the SD / CF card to the PC / laptop / External HDD at the earliest. The longer you leave your photos on your memory card, the higher are the chances of you losing them via cards going kaput or you accidently deleting them

You are now back at home from your photography trip. Before you process those images or sort them or look through them - take a backup.

Copy all your unprocessed images to the hard disk in the folder that you've chosen. This preferably should not be the same drive on which your computer OS is stored. If you've got more than 1 hard disk in your PC then put your images on the secondary hard disk and not the primary HDD.

The exception to this rule is if your "other" hard disk is the older one which keeps making some strange ticking sounds....in that case - dont put anything on this hard disk unless its something that you can live without..for example your porn collection :p

Burn a DVD with the unprocessed images (RAW files if you've got them...jpeg if you've shot in that format) and label it appropriately. Remember - DVD's look identical - its important that you label them....device your own method or name format so you remember which disk has unprocessed files from which particular shoot. Store these appropriately. Some paranoid individuals have been known to create 2 copies and keep 1 each in a different location.

Now go through your images using whatever software you usually use to sort, segregate, label and process and then save them in the "final" storage place which is another folder somewhere on your hard disk (the hard disk on your computer and not an external hard disk). These images usually would be in Tiff or jpeg format.

Burn another DVD with these images (the processed jpeg / tiff files) - label it appropriately

Keep an external hard disk to make another copy of your folder that has the final processed images. Some people may want to replace this external hard disk with an online storage solution...or maybe use both - the External HDD as well as the online storage solution.

Double check that you've got the following sets of storage and back-up's for photos from each of your photos shoots / photo trips -

a) 2 sets of DVDs with processed and unprocessed files
b) Processed + unprocessed files stored on your computer hard disk
c) Processed files on an external HDD and / or online


All media is perishable....how long each would last depends on how well you store it and a certain element of luck. The idea is to spread out your photos as the chances of everything failing at the same time is negligible.

In case you do find that your SD card + DVD + External HDD + Computer HDD all of them have crashed / gone corrupt /  failed at the same time, it either means someone from the CIA has busted you or maybe God is conspiring against you...in either of these cases, you as a poor photographer can do nothing apart from take more photos and hope you dont get busted again :D

I'd also suggest you make a high quality fine art type print on archival paper of images that you really cherish. They most probably will last longer than the digital images ;)
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Jasii on July 12, 2014, 01:39:43 PM
 :like:

+1
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: theqca on July 13, 2014, 10:13:18 PM
:like:

+1

you in agreement with this method that I've suggested?

Anyone here who does things differently?
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: aatifsumar on July 13, 2014, 11:25:25 PM
Great tips Ayaz. Let me add my 2 cents here:
IMHO, the safest place to back up your pictures is the world wide web. As you said, all HDDs are going to eventually crash. DVD's can get scratched easily.
If you shoot exclusively in JPEG, Flickr is the perfect solution for you, with its 1TB limit. Simply backup your images to Flickr and leave them as private.
If you also shoot in RAW, this won't work. The most cost efficient way to back up your RAW files online, if you have a collection exceeding 100GB, is Amazon S3 Glacier storage. Costs $0.01/GB/Year. So you can store 1TB of data online for just $10/year. its called Glacier Storage because its meant to be kept away and not accessed regularly. When you want to download it back to your system in case of a worst case scenario, you pay $0.12/GB to download it.

As a Lightroom user, I store my Lightroom Catalog File (.lrcat) and Smart Previews for my entire collection (~10GB) on my Dropbox. Any changes I make are automatically backed up there.  That, paired with two External HDD's is what I use right now. Planning to backup to Amazon S3 Glacier soon too.

Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Jasii on July 15, 2014, 11:30:39 PM
My 2 paise worth is :  Only a person who has experienced a data crash will talk and do a backup methodically. Human beings by nature are lazy/lethargic and we do look for excuses to put off for tomorrow what should be done today. Backups of all types no matter how good they are,  will fail because they will not be done regularly, hence the best backup is the one that is automatic without human intervention.

I have not started thinking of backing up my pics exclusively, but give them the same treatment as I'd do for my other data. I mirror my entire hard drive on to an external hdd/iomega zip. Use the hdd for my odd days and the zip drive for the even days, Best of all is these are done automatically as I go to bed, I use Norton ghost but there are plenty of other utils out there too.
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Hankosaurus on July 21, 2014, 11:08:29 AM
Thanks, Ayaz, for that thoughtful presentation and method.

I'm still trying to find my way with this.  Presently I copy everything on my camera's CF card to three places before reformatting the card.  The internal drive and then onto two USB external terabyte drives.  Last year one of the external terabyte drives died.  Poof! Just like that.  I was very happy that everything was on the other one also.  I still wonder about having copies off premise.  I keep thinking about that tsunami that wiped out Fukushima several years ago.  Some negatives and prints survived.  I guess most of the computers probably did not.  The cloud idea sounds interesting to anyone who trusts it, I suppose. I doubt the long term security of the cloud service more than the failure of the cloud.  I suspect that virtually nothing in the cloud is absolutely secure.

I also copy images from the camera by cable, not by moving the CF card.  Frankly, I just don't trust repeated use of those pins in the camera which must meet and mate perfectly with the card every time it is removed and replaced. When I worked with the telecom industry, we never put pins in terminal equipment connectors.  Those were always female.  If a pin bends or breaks, it's far better for it to be in a cable or other device that gets plugged into the terminal equipment.  I think other storage device designs which do not use pins like that are probably a better idea.  That's one of my few complaints with the D700 ... with fractional viewing being another one of note.

:)
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Bharat Varma on July 22, 2014, 01:25:13 PM
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: somnath goswami on July 22, 2014, 05:17:40 PM
  • I have always found internal hard disks to be far more reliable than external ones.
  • If you have multiple desktops at home, put at least two physical hard disks in each and mirror your photographs on both.
  • The mirroring can also be done on multiple desktops at different locations if you have a trusted friend (whom you can trust with your collection).
  • Carry large capacity and large (physically) sized pen drives for a shoot. Large capacity for obvious reasons and large physical size for (in my opinion) probably better reliability (I would be very, very suspicious of the reliability of 64GB of storage on a miniature pen drive - there's only so much you can cram into a tiny space). Take a small netbook or an android device with USB on the Go and transfer the data from your card onto the pen drives for backup.
  • The most difficult of all - have a "Keepers" folder for your best shots. These are the ones you want to hold onto for ever. Be absolutely ruthless in your image selection for this. Go wild on this - back it up on DVD, Online services (can encrypt the files here for additional security), multiple desktops etc.

Thanks Bharat. I follow your instructions in tech related matters by letter to letter. Very sensible.

cheers
Somnath
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Jasii on July 22, 2014, 05:55:23 PM
Bharat ji: we talking about auto mirroring here or manual?
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Bharat Varma on July 22, 2014, 06:34:16 PM
Bharat ji: we talking about auto mirroring here or manual?

Jasii, that would depend primarily on the volume of data you were handling, how often you edited your primary source (especially it's folder structure or folder nomenclature) and how confident you were about your mirroring software.

I would perhaps do a manual mirror if I was using only two systems. That way I could keep both folders absolutely synchronized. But then I use tools that the average user would not be using, specifically a file manager called FAR (which I cannot praise enough). It's made by the same guy who came up with Winrar.

If using more than two systems, I would do an automated one way duplication (not strictly a mirror, since deletions at the source would not be carried forward).
This may leave me with more clutter on the backup drives but has the advantage of being hands free.
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: theqca on July 22, 2014, 10:01:15 PM
Happy that we've come up with quite a few ideas here...

Bharat - what is the difference between 2 hard disks on the same system(where neither of them are being used to run the OS but merely being used for data storage) being used as back-up vs 2 hard disks on different systems?
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Bharat Varma on July 23, 2014, 01:49:57 AM
Happy that we've come up with quite a few ideas here...

Bharat - what is the difference between 2 hard disks on the same system(where neither of them are being used to run the OS but merely being used for data storage) being used as back-up vs 2 hard disks on different systems?

Ayaz, I meant to use multiple hard disks on each system. Physical hard disks, that is. If you have just one hard disk on one system, you are not optimally using your resources. You will need both machines on for backup and you only get one copy of the data. I'm cheap, so I find adding a 5k hard disk to a 30-40k system worthwhile.

What having multiple hard disks on each system does -

Let's say the first disk is divided into C:, D:, E: and the second disk into F:, G:, H:.
I'd install the OS and programs into C:. Once I'm done with a satisfactory install, I can mirror this partition onto F: using any drive imaging tool.
Now if disk 1 (c:, d:, e:) crashes, disk 2 will become (c:, d:, e:) and I should be able to boot off it and run my OS. Since the program locations are hard coded into the OS while installation, I need to ensure that my mirrored copy of the OS on disk 2 finds the same drive letter if disk 1 is removed.
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: drgap on December 04, 2014, 11:39:52 AM
Nice Writeup..extremely Important is it to back up.

Agreed with Jassiji , once who has lost can understand its worth.

I normal save pictures like this : I make a folder 2013, then make 12 folders as per month and in each month save folder as yer the shooting date... All these are in a external hard disk. One day due to noise from a external HDD, i copied all the whole to a new harddisk. I left it overnight and morning the thing was done...I checked a few folder and found all was okay. Then discarded the old hard disk.

After a 5-6 months, I wanted some pictures from it, i opened and was shocked, just the folders were copied, and in most of the folders  , the raw pictures were not copied at all..I dont know why it happened. All the month and dates folder were made but inside it was empty in most...It was a nightmare. I lost my treasures.

If a DVD is made and stored in proper cover ensuring no scratches, still it can crash or not work ?

Are SSD more safer ?

Are internal HDD more safer than the external one ?

A external HDD with power supply is more safer than one without it.

Ayaz, u write good stuff, please do keep writing, we all are interested and eager to learn ....
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: MayaV on December 05, 2014, 03:53:54 PM
Well for Amateur i think, the below would be a great strategy for photo storage:

Level 1 : Computer HDD
Level 2 : 2nd HDD of Computer
Level 3 : External HDD
Level 4 : DVD

To me DVD are a bit risky.

For serious and pro photogs an additional step i would recommend is:

Level 5 : NAS drive

Cheers

Vivek
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: VikramF on December 05, 2014, 04:23:01 PM
So this is what I NOW use - used to use a bunch of external disks + DVDs + Cloud. Now:

1. First thing is to copy the SD card into 2 places - in my case, 2 computers (Comp A and Comp B)
2. I then sort through them (on Comp A) and delete the ones that are obviously bad.
3. Then I copy the data from Comp A onto a NAS drive set up for mirroring - well it's set to do an incremental backup at a press of a button.
4. Then burn a blu-ray disk (just as I feel that they're more stable than DVDs and heck, they store a LOT more)
5. Then delete data from Comp B (my data is now on my comp HDD, mirrored on 2 disks on the NAS and is on Blu Ray
6. I continue to work off Comp A and cull a lot more (which then gets replicated on the NAS)
7. My final "keepers" get pushed onto the cloud
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Bharat Varma on December 05, 2014, 08:24:03 PM
So this is what I NOW use - used to use a bunch of external disks + DVDs + Cloud. Now:

1. First thing is to copy the SD card into 2 places - in my case, 2 computers (Comp A and Comp B)
2. I then sort through them (on Comp A) and delete the ones that are obviously bad.
3. Then I copy the data from Comp A onto a NAS drive set up for mirroring - well it's set to do an incremental backup at a press of a button.
4. Then burn a blu-ray disk (just as I feel that they're more stable than DVDs and heck, they store a LOT more)
5. Then delete data from Comp B (my data is now on my comp HDD, mirrored on 2 disks on the NAS and is on Blu Ray
6. I continue to work off Comp A and cull a lot more (which then gets replicated on the NAS)
7. My final "keepers" get pushed onto the cloud


Never thought of blu-ray disks for long term storage. Sounds great.

How reliable have you found the blu-ray disks?
Ever checked the integrity of the data immediately after the write?
The oldest blu-ray disk that you've recorded and it's integrity?
Which one's are you using - 25GB or more?

Recommendations for a good blu-ray writer and good, reliable media please.
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: MayaV on December 06, 2014, 12:07:48 AM
So this is what I NOW use - used to use a bunch of external disks + DVDs + Cloud. Now:

1. First thing is to copy the SD card into 2 places - in my case, 2 computers (Comp A and Comp B)
2. I then sort through them (on Comp A) and delete the ones that are obviously bad.
3. Then I copy the data from Comp A onto a NAS drive set up for mirroring - well it's set to do an incremental backup at a press of a button.
4. Then burn a blu-ray disk (just as I feel that they're more stable than DVDs and heck, they store a LOT more)
5. Then delete data from Comp B (my data is now on my comp HDD, mirrored on 2 disks on the NAS and is on Blu Ray
6. I continue to work off Comp A and cull a lot more (which then gets replicated on the NAS)
7. My final "keepers" get pushed onto the cloud

Now that quite a heck of a backup plan.

Vikram, could you share some economical cloud plans, if you have searched them.

Thanks

Vivek
Title: Re: Back up your photos - a suggested method
Post by: Hyperdrive on December 06, 2014, 10:06:19 AM
This is what I do for my data:

a) 1st level of back up is to a separate backup internal hard disk that uses Windows file history to backup every hour.
b) 2nd level to an external RAID enclosure via a continuous data backup (CDB) software AND a data synching software. One such enclosure is marked as an offsite backup.
c) 3rd level to another PC on my home network.
d) 4th level to a NAS enclosure on the network, set up for manual data synch.

I don't use optical media as they are slow. My Blu ray & DVD writers are mostly used for read only functions and once in a while to create audio CDs :)

I may be interested in cloud. Interestingly MS has been giving out unlimited space on their OneDrive cloud storage to some Office 2013/365 users. Just got a notification today. :)

My choice of cloud for non critical data is Dropbox though I have been a wary of putting up personal data on the internet.