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ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
Storage Media on 07/28/2008 06:07:01 MDT Print View

Sort of a photography subject I think.

Wondering if anyone has thoughts on long term storage of their precious photos and video etc.
Suddenly it seems we now store everything digitally and yes we can do back-ups etc but what about the long long term? What about 20 years from now?

I have everything on my computer and I have everything burnt to DVD. I have video on an external hard drive but is that all enough?

How would you or do you store and back-up all your stuff with a 20 year view?

Do you think DVDs stored correctly will be good 5 or 10 or 20 years from now or is it wait and see?

Would it be wise to put everything on an external hard drive?

Are external hard drives with no moving parts better over the long term?

Now that memory cards are getting big gig-wise are they a good option?

Storing and re-storing files may cause a lose of quality.

I'm not so clever to know the answer but I reckon some of you are !

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Storage media on 07/28/2008 07:11:59 MDT Print View

I don't know "the" answer. I don't think anybody does. Nothing is totally secure or guaranteed to last or be usable in 20 years. Transferring data to new media will probably be essential. That said, I used external hard drives as backups - three of them. One is attached to the computer for daily backups the others are kept separately and used for irregular backups depending on how much photography I have been doing. When I download images to the computer they are automatically copied to the external hard drive so I have an immediate backup.

Because I only use these hard drives for backups they aren't used much and so should last. I still have three though!

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Storage Media on 07/28/2008 08:42:41 MDT Print View

Chris is right - there is no single best answer to your question

I would recommend using both an external hard drive and an online backup service. It is nice to have duplicate backups. Also, it's a good idea to use some sort of online/remote backup (such as Mozy or Carbonite) in case there is a fire, burglary, flood, etc. in your home. This system will work indefinitely - just replace the external hard drive when it dies (you will likely need to replace many external drives in the 20 year period). If something happens to the online backup service, you still have the external drive, which gives you time to find another online backup service. The problem with DVD backup is that DVD's scratch fairly easily and you might lose data if they get scratched.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Storage Media on 07/28/2008 09:01:25 MDT Print View

I've used tape backup drives, but they're pricey for personal use and slow as molasses. The small firms I've worked with (or helped start) prefer hard drives for efficiency and speed, and are cheaper than they've ever been. For personal use, hard drives are the way to go. DVD's have not proven to be shelf-stable for long periods of time, and they're too backpacking trip can more than fill a DVD-ROM if you shoot Raw.

If you take so many photos that you use a digital asset management tool like Lightroom, then you've got a database to back up as well, and that gets even more sick 'n' twisted.

Me? I first store all photos on a mirrored RAID - that way I get automatic redundancy. Then, weekly I clone that RAID to another RAID of identical size (there are many free and cheap utilities to do this). For my non-photo, non-work stuff, I have an automatic tasks to clone my laptop's hard drive to another external hard drive. Yep, that means for one computer I have 5 to 6 hard drives. :-\ Kind of insane but piece of mind is everything.

So far so good, but it's not disaster-proof: I have no long-term, OFF-SITE storage for everything (I generate 200+GB of media per year between work and play). The photos I really care about I render at full rez and upload to Flickr, but they're just JPEGs, not the RAW originals.

Short version? Always buy hard drives in pairs!

Edited by atomick on 07/28/2008 09:02:52 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Storage Media on 07/28/2008 10:52:00 MDT Print View

Just to add to the previous, more complete answers, I've started buying external USB hard drives for backup, storage and moving large file collections around, e.g., a 0.5 TB drive at my desk and two portable 320GB drives.

Street prices in my area are nearing $200/TB for desktop drives, and $300/TB for portables.

Hard drives are almost infinitely easier to use than burning stacks of DVD, which means I'm more likely to actually do it :-) Permanent? Who knows? But likely better than dye-based CD and DVDs. My larger concern is down the road when USB is no longer a standard, much less jpg, proprietary RAW formats, etc.

I also agree that ultimately, off-site storage will be the answer, but it's not yet mature technology and many folks don't have adequate wideband speed.

My other digitial photo bugaboo is version control, but that's another story.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
RE "Storage Media" on 07/28/2008 12:03:00 MDT Print View

Like Nathan, I have multiple external hard drives to the point that my wife calls my computer "Frankenstein".
It is really the only inexpensive way to backup with today’s technology. I do have a few very important things backed up on 2 32g flash drives 1 kept in a fire safe on site and 1 kept off site.
I have used tape drives in the past but expense and time convinced me to go to external hard drives.

Edited by djjmikie on 07/28/2008 12:03:46 MDT.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Storage Media on 07/28/2008 14:23:56 MDT Print View

It doesn't have to be rocket science. Here are a few tips:
When talking about digital, copying doesn't lose quality unless you are encountering things like scratches in DVDs.

Cost per GB may lean to DVDs but for reliable backups harddrives still win due to degridation in films used on the DVD, and lets face it, scratches happen.

If form factors of harddrives change (such as IDE to SATA) there will always be connectors on the market.

Firesafes aren't usually waterproof.

Even if a firesafe protects the drive from burning, the air in the safe reaching 1,500 degrees will ruin the drive data and melt the plastic parts.

It took twenty years for IDE to go by the wayside for SATA, and most motherboards still support it. It may not be as fast as current technology but generally hard drives have a very slow form factor change over, so you'll at least be able to read those drives, or have plenty of forwarning allowing you to copy them to a new drive type.

Online backups make a good affordable off-site that can be automated, but must not be your only backup as these companies occasionally go out of business overnight (happened to me, lost a ton of accounting files).

Automated backups are worth setting up.

Learn about incrimental types of backups. You don't need daily backups of the same unchanged files. Good software should have lots of ways of just grabbing periodic full backups while backing up changed and new files much more frequently.

Off-site storage is mandatory but doesn't have to be anything more than handing a harddrive to a friend or family member in an anti-static bag and having them put it in their closet. When disaster happens the one thing most people can't replace is their photos.

Solid state drives look promising but aren't there yet for archiving. The cost / gb is still high and readers are not as universal as one thinks. Formfactors change in solid state drives about every five years as well. Even SD cards have changed with the new larger cards being unreadable in older readers.

Ben R
(snowfiend131) - MLife

Locale: Western PA on 07/28/2008 15:40:23 MDT Print View

I have been using for my backups for about a year now (along with my external HD). Its seamless, runs in the background, and uploads any new photos that appear in my 'photos' folder automatically. $5/month for unlimited space for personal use. Business use is quite a bit pricier, but probably still worth it.

The initial upload can take several weeks if you have a big chunk of files (100 GB+)! Incremental uploads after that are reasonable.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
storage on 07/28/2008 18:22:26 MDT Print View

Wow, look at all you smart people popping out of the woodwork! Very nice.

For me, just an extra external harddrive is the answer I'm sure. 1TB drives are at bargain prices these days, my 2 year old 300gb drive is looking tiny !

I can't handle the idea of on-line storage, the thought of the company going bust is scary and if you do a backup to backup the online backup then my brain gets tired!

NEW QUESTION: Does anyone have knowledge, experience or opinion on the differences (good or bad) between what seems to be the 2 different types of external harddrives

There are big ones (both physically and in gig size)which need to be plugged in to a powerpoint, these are the same as harddrives in desktop computers I believe and smaller ones that only need a USB cable and are powered through the computer, these are the same as harddrives in laptops I believe.
Are there advantages in the smaller ones because of their power supply and (maybe) less moving parts?

Excuse my very un-tech wording !

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: storage on 07/28/2008 18:27:25 MDT Print View

The only major difference in a 2.5" drive and a 3.5" drive is the scale of the components. One isn't necessarily going to last longer than the other and for now you're going to pay a premium for the smaller dimensions. I'd stick to the 3.5" if it's just going to sit on your desk permanently. If you're going to carry it around a lot obviously the 2.5" is a better option.

Also, just as an FYI, servers are starting to move to 2.5" drives so it's only a matter of time before desktops go the same route and 3.5" drives go the route of the 5 1/4" floppy.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
drives on 07/29/2008 05:48:40 MDT Print View

You're 100% right Chris. I want a 1TB drive but can wait. By the time I really need it who knows what will be on the market.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Storage Media on 07/29/2008 09:50:29 MDT Print View

The driving force for moving laptop drives into servers is heat mitigation, not necessarily other specifications.

For right now the standard desktop drives are faster and cheaper but reliability is about the same across the board.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Storage Media on 07/29/2008 11:14:28 MDT Print View

From a bang-for-the-buck standpoint, an external SATA drive dock or cable looks like an option, providing external use of a standard desktop PC disk drive. The cost/GB should be very attractive. Here are a couple versions:

That said, I've not used one so don't know the ins and outs. SATA drives are said to be hot-swappable, I don't think the older IDE drives are.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Storage Media on 07/29/2008 11:26:02 MDT Print View

When you are connecting a hard drive via an external device via USB or via Firewire they are all hot swapable, you just have to remember to unplug the USB/Firewire cable first, then pull the hard drive cable out of the drive. If they are mounted inside the PC, some SATA's are hot swapable, but I usually don't recommend that route to casual PC users since they can bump other things while tugging on the cable while the PC is on or worse, drop a screw on the motherboard while it's powered on - that can lead to bad things.

SATA is where the formfactor is going but external sata isn't standardized on most computers so you end up going over USB which is slower than the IDE drive anyway, thus no real gain. True external SATA has a plug in the back or front of the pc you can connect the drive directly to via a SATA cable and usually has a SATA power adapter available to plug it in directly to your PC. That avoids any adapter mess and it's as fast as the drive would be if it was mounted internally. You should be able to find external SATA cards or motherboards built with it already if you look around when you buy your next PC.

If you are looking for long term storage there isn't much of a price difference between the two and sata will be around for a while since it's relatively new so I'd suggest it, but not by much as the external adapters that support it are usually a bit more expensive.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 07/29/2008 14:12:38 MDT.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
RE: SATA Storage Media on 07/29/2008 12:31:22 MDT Print View

I just finished setting up a 1TB external SATA drive as part of a redundant backup system. You can buy your favorite SATA drive and put it in the Max 4 External case. It can be set up USB (slower as Joe stated) but also comes with the SATA cable and PC card.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: on 07/29/2008 15:30:16 MDT Print View

Another vote for Mozy. I use syncback (free) to backup to an external USB drive and mozy performs an incremental backup from there. Works seamlessly and will provide a backup in case of a catastrophic event.

It is somewhat less useful if you are adding gigs and gigs of data on a regular basis as even incremental backups may take too long.