Backing Up Photos

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Sanford, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. I use several Time Machine external hard drives to back up photos, etc. Would it make sense to keep one set of photos in a non-Time Machine hard drive? I've been told a Time Machine backup can't be used on a non Apple computer.
  2. Sanford likes this.
  3. AJG


    I use Time Machine but also back up my important image and other files to additional external drives., which I replace every couple of years. I also make BluRay discs when I can fill one and store those at home, away from my studio.
    David_Cavan and Sanford like this.
  4. I think the bigger issue is that you should never have both backups in the same location. That's why I do what Tom does: I have one backup (really a mirror, not a backup) on an external HD next to my computer, and a second true backup in the cloud. Like Tom, I use BackBlaze for the latter, but there are several choices.
    David_Cavan and Sanford like this.
  5. I would agree with keeping one copy in a format that is as universal as possible, which is probably jpeg on a FAT formatted hard drive.

    In related news, Ubuntu just trashed my system with an update, how very kind of them...
    Sanford likes this.
  6. Is there some reason I wouldn't want to save them in TIFF format?
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Have been using a Western Digital Passport Ultra 4TB. Very pleased with it and have written about it previously. Inexpensive and easy to use. Anyway, I can always take more photos so am not as passionate about backup as some.
    Sanford likes this.
  8. I think a 500 GB SSD would be a lifetime of storage space for me. I've only used 250 GB in all these years. Looking at PNY/Seagate, don't know enough to distinguish any meaningful differences between the two so it comes down to price and warranty. Any other brand suggestions?
  9. TIFF should be fine too, anything that's readable without special software.
  10. If your current photos are stored on "several time machine drives," it doesn't sound like a 500 GB SSD will be large enough. You should seriously consider backing up your RAW images, along with their TIFF and JPEG derivatives. JPEG images have very little latitude for future adjustments. TIFF files are better, since they are not compressed. RAW files are best since they have the greatest bit depth and latitude for adjustment.

    All drives have a limited life, including SSD's. Expect a failure every 20,000 hours or so of operation. If you have 5 drives, that comes to 20,000/5 = 4,000 hours, about one per year.

    You should consider setting up a RAID consisting of 2 to 5 hard drives. A RAID 1 configuration gives redudancy and ease of replacement at the expense of slower operation than a single drive. A RAID 4 can tolerate a failure of 2 discs without data loss and fast operation. Avoid 2,3, and 5+ configurations for home use. You could have 6 TB of RAID for the cost of 1 TB of SSD.
    Sanford likes this.
  11. Yeah, that's why I do it this way. I have a raid set up like Ed and that gets backed up to a single large external drive via TimeMachine

    The raid also gets backed up by BackBlaze to the cloud. I have it run only at night.

    Neither the raid or the TimeMachine backup will help me if the place burns to the ground or someone breaks in and steals everything.

    The best part about it is that it's all automatic. I don't have to remember to do anything.
  12. Before using an automatic backup program, determine how it deals with "orphan" files. An orphan file is one which resides on the destination disk, but no longer on the source disk. A file which was accidentally deleted on the source disk may be deleted on the destination in order to synchronize the directories. If this is what you want, okay, but I prefer to be notified in a log file.

    I chose to use Drobo drives instead of creating my own RAID. It's an expensive option, but has unique advantages. If a drive goes bad, you get an alarm and a red light appears near the drive slot. You can remove and replace it with a blank drive, without shutting down, and Drobo will automatically configure it into the system and repopulate the data. You can continue to use it during the reconstruction, but are cautioned not to remove another drive. I also have a direct connect (Thunderbolt 3) Drobo on my desk. The NAS is handy because you can access it from anywhere in the world, but slower. Not all utility programs, including Time Machine and Dropbox, will access the NAS. The TB version is twice as fast and acts like it is built into the Mac chassis.

    I use the TB drive as working memory, while the NAS is mostly used to backup for large directories, including Dropbox (local) and Photos.

    Cloud storage is much slower than a local drive. Moreover, they have a finite lifetime before the provider decides to discontinue the product. You then have a limited amount of time to backup your files.
    Sanford likes this.
  13. Well this is more of a do what I say not what I do thing since I don't do this for my photographs completely, but as a former UNIX system administrator, to back something up you need at least 2 copies with one of them stored off site. And really you need periodic backups so that there is a history in case you have bad media or more than one. For people who work (not in a pandemic, so going in) you could keep an extra backup at work or you could mail them to a friend somewhere.

    I have heard of people's house burning down and they lose their entire library.

    Anyway, I have a time capsule which is getting old and it does back up my pictures (and my whole computer) But I also have a secondary drive using Super Duper (Mac program) that makes an exact copy of your drive and you can set it to run every night. I recently restored my OLD computer because it died and wouldn't even allow me to reinstall the OS. Super duper works and the computer is up again. But if my house went, that would be it.

    Given how cheap portable hard drives are, it's actually viable to keep buying new ones and mailing them to someone out of town in a way it didn't used to be.
    Sanford likes this.
  14. The Cloud: I have read, someone buys an abandoned building in the devastated downtown of a former great city, runs power to it, builds security cages for servers, hires security guards and rents out space. Your photos are NOT being sent to heaven for safe keeping.
    Wayne Melia likes this.
  15. :)

    There's a couple of important points made in carbon_dragon's post:
    • The first is that it is important to keep a set of backups in a second location.
    • The second point is that even as a former UNIX admin, he doesn't consistently follow his own advice for his personal backups.
    And the reason he doesn't completely follow his own advice is probably because it's not convenient or it's something he has to remember to do.

    I understand this completely because I also used to be responsible for backups at a company and knew what I SHOULD be doing to backup up my own files. But I only did it sporadically, - until I started using a service that backs up my data to a 2nd location (the cloud) automatically.

    You're right, there's nothing magical about it and I also keep a backup at home. But it does take care of that important part of a backup plan that I wasn't very consistent about doing on my own.

    There is another thing that people should be doing that they don't often do: Periodically check to see if their backups are working. Restore some files every now and then.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    Sanford likes this.
  16. One of my back up drives has be locked away for three months in a safe deposit box of a temporary , but recently reopened bank.
  17. That sounds like the very definition of a 'secure, off-site backup'

    Mine consists of my old hard drives, in a box, in a caravan, in a barn about an hour from my house.
    Sanford likes this.
  18. I keep a set on inexpensive 1 TB + drives in a separate location.
  19. Yes well put, since I am retired, there isn't an office for me to bring a back up to. And most of my relatives are dead (at least the ones I trust). But it's a risk for sure. I'd have to back up at least 2 computers with very large drives and I don't really want to pay for that much cloud storage, plus I'm not sure I want to trust my data to someone else's keeping.

    And preferably your backups should be somewhere where they won't be affected by the same natural disaster too -- like in another city so a hurricane or tornado won't take the backups out too. Doing it right is complicated and expensive and probably beyond what most people need. You have to ask yourself what the consequence is of all your data being wiped out. For me, I'd lose all my music but I could recover most of that from CDs (depending on whether my house burned down) or from Apple iTunes by re-downloading it. And I don't listen to ALL my music so recovery wouldn't involve rebuying everything. Then my photographs could be lost if the whole house burned down, but if it doesn't, most of it is on negatives and there are 2-3 copies of every picture (plus some of it is in my iPhoto library which is cloud backed up). That would be the biggest potential loss. I could rebuy all my programs if I had to (now that I am no longer working).

    It's not like a business that folds because all its financial records or IP or designs are destroyed.

    It's not as simple as taking my backup drive and mailing it to my cousin in Houston. Because I continually take more pictures. I'd have to do that periodically and either the drives would start mounting up or my cousin would have to keep a few and mail the rest back (so I'm costing myself and my cousin a fair amount of money and trouble). You could mitigate the situation by bringing a hard drive every time you go visit your relative out of town and take some of them back with you, but that means if a disaster struck you might lose a fair bit of your pictures but not all of them. It's all about how precious your data is and what the consequences of its loss are.
  20. There is always I have over 5000 photos in my gallery and I assume they will continue exist somewhere even if p/n goes away. P/n is like the mask, probably doesn't help but makes me feel secure just having it.
    carbon_dragon likes this.

Share This Page