Cloud storage experience

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by regan_wood, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. Hi all. Found some questions posted about cloud storage options but they were all pretty old--2011, 2013, etc.--and it's come such a long way since. My current back up system is on my HD and an external drive, but thinking about adding cloud storage. iDrive is what I'm leaning towards with 1TB for $15/year and it has good reviews and good perks, but wondering if anyone has any experience with cloud storage that they can share. Thanks!
     
  2. Using Arq to back up my images to Amazon Glacier. Arq can back up to a variety of cloud services. My view of cloud back up for my images is one of last resort. I'm hoping I never need to access the images.
    Everything on my computer is also sent to Backblaze, not just the photos.
    It took about a month to get around 600GB of photos into Amazon Glacier and took about 8 months to get everything in Backblaze.
     
  3. I bought a 1.5TB Western Digital Passport for around $65. Plugged into one of my USB drives. Pretty much plug and play and backs up all my files and photos in real time. Will also save previous files that have been revised so you can go back to older version of files.
    Here's a whole mess of them to select from. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Portable-Drives/ci/12798/pn/2/N/4232862018
     
  4. jpk

    jpk

    There is another solution - create your own cloud. I bought 4 TB Western Digital My Cloud
    http://www.amazon.com/Cloud-4TB-Personal-Storage-WDBCTL0040HWT-NESN/dp/B00EVVGAD0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436299369&sr=8-1&keywords=MyCloud
    Advantages:
    - transfer rate is about 1 Gb/s
    - you can backup your entire system, not only photos or documents
    - if you need you may make it "visible" from Internet, so you may have password protected access from any location even when you computer is turned off.
     
  5. Alan and Jack, I use a few external hard drives as backup myself, and while this is significantly better than nothing, it's not really a "real" backup solution. All hard drives fail eventually (and sometimes much sooner than "eventually"), so if you go the DIY backup route, you have to put some diligence into periodically replacing hard drives, and hoping they stay healthy in the meantime. If you use remote "cloud" backup, the hard drive maintenance is taken care of by dedicated professionals. And if/when a hard drive fails at the cloud service, you can be sure they have your data stored in such a way that no data is lost.
    Regan, I don't (yet) use a remote backup service, but here are some recent threads on Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Photos:
    Amazon announces Cloud Storage for Photos
    Google Photos and Amazon Cloud Drive Photos for Raw Backjup
     
  6. I wouldn't use cloud as primary backup, but as secondary or tertiary, it's a good option. You can't trust those people.
    Hard drives don't all fail at once. That's why you have more than one, in multiple locations.
     
  7. "There is another solution - create your own cloud. I bought 4 TB Western Digital My Cloud"​
    A bit of a digression, but I bought a 3 TB My Cloud a couple of months ago. While it handles one specific niche - as a home media server - it's not ideal either as a true backup drive or as a substitute for offsite archiving, something the generic online "cloud" does well.
    "I wouldn't use cloud as primary backup, but as secondary or tertiary, it's a good option. You can't trust those people."​
    Considering Amazon's government contracts I'd say they're as reliable as anyone in the business. I'm interested in cloud storage for both routine backups and archiving, because local storage is iffy where I live (apartment complex, with no real way to be sure who has access to master keys), and I don't have many options for storage drives offsite with family or friends (I've tried that before and lost some photos to a house flood). I'm more concerned about cost and speed than long term reliability. Amazon is a safer bet than my own onsite hard drives and CDs/DVDs.
    Backups and archiving are two different models, which this thread explains pretty well. It includes distinguishing between Amazon Glacier and S3 services.
    For long term paid archiving (without syncing) I'd probably go with Amazon Glacier. For online backup (syncing daily changes), Amazon S3 might be better. However for now I'm using Amazon Prime's free cloud storage, and Google+ which recently expanded their free cloud service. Each has advantages and disadvantages, which I've written about in the two threads Colin linked to.
    Digression, not really relevant to the OP's question...
    Regarding the WD My Cloud single drives (not the EX2, EX4, Mirror, etc.), they're an interesting alternative to the WD My Book and similar USB external single drives. But the single drive My Cloud is mainly a home or remote controlled media server. I already had media server capabilities with my PC and clear.fi, but this worked only when the PC was on. Now when the PC powers down or hibernates I still have wireless access to the My Cloud device, as long as it's running and linked to the WiFi modem.
    The main advantage is the My Cloud has its own CPU and can function as a media server without an attached computer. It only needs some link to the WiFi modem, router, etc. But it's quicker to load large files or many files via hardwired ethernet connection between the computer and My Cloud.
    The My Cloud has WD Red drives, designed for 24/7 operation; the My Book uses Green drives for lower power consumption - apparently the power down feature can be overridden for 24/7 operation; I'm not sure what the economy level WD Elements external storage drives use.
    The My Cloud is ethernet only between PC and drive, no USB2/3. The single USB port on the back is for piggybacking extra storage, such as a Passport USB drive, not for direct connection to the PC.
    Using the My Cloud for backup depends on the backup sync software and operating system. Windows 7 Home Edition does not work with networked drives for Windows Backup, so that's out. WD's otherwise excellent SmartWare - while quick enough with the Passport USB drives - crawls inexplicably slowly via the My Cloud. Other users have the same complaint, without apparent resolution. I tried Microsoft's old, no-longer-supported Sync Toy and while it works pretty well it can omit some files without notifying the user, so it's not really ideal for true backup. Large files transferred quickly via ethernet cable and Sync Toy, while folders with hundreds or thousands of small files took many hours and were more likely to omit files without any error notifications.
    As a result, I relegated the My Cloud to primary duty as a media server (including my photos and videos), and secondarily as redundant storage for my Lightroom photos -- but it's not a backup. I've returned to using the Passport USB drives and SmartWare for true onsite backup. I like the Passport drives for grab-and-go convenience (I live in an apartment complex). And SmartWare is true synced backup software, and prevents accidentally or deliberately deleting or overwriting backups. The only way to delete extraneous or redundant files is to wipe the entire drive and start over.
    While the My Cloud should be technically capable of speedy data transfer many users have reported frustrations when actually achieving those speeds. I'm among them. It's a pain in the neck to get optimal performance, not an easy PNP device.
    The main problems with the WD My Cloud limit its usefulness both as a remote controlled device and even for home networking:
    • The browser based dashboard interface is somewhat unreliable. Sometimes I need to reboot the PC to gain access to the dashboard. The dashboard is needed to control some My Cloud functions, and to shut it down or reboot it properly. Without the dashboard all you can do is pull the plug and hope the abrupt power-down doesn't do any harm.
    • The WD mobile app works less than half the time with my tablet. It seems somewhat more reliable now than back in May when I set it up. No idea whether WD is actively supporting the mobile app.
    Fortunately the Twonky browser based media server interface is fairly reliable, but not intuitive for non-techie folks. I can show my mom how to access videos from her tablet via the Twonky browser, rather than messing with her DVD player. But she can't remember from one day to the next how to use it. Not her fault. Twonky doesn't offer a user friendly interface. Ideally there would be a seamless, user friendly application between, say, Twonky and VLC media player, so anyone can easily see the movie and music titles, tap on them, and start playing. But it ain't that easy. So she's more likely to watch streaming movies and TV via Amazon Prime, which works much better - more like how the My Cloud should work.
    On the plus side, now that everything is set up reasonably well, I can access my photo raw files and TIFFs via any device on the network. I mostly use Windows Explorer, although Lightroom can import or add a photo (without copying/moving to the laptop). So I don't need to clutter up my laptop hard drive. I can even edit photos on my tablet, although I haven't found a good raw file editor for Android so I mostly use it for quickie tweaks to JPEGs or TIFFs.
     
  8. I agree that Cloud backup should be a secondary option, specifically to be off-site. A "cloud"-enabled hard disk at home is, in my view, just an external hard disk. It's the off-site part that makes cloud storage solutions a good addition.
    Personally, I'd select a proper internet backup service, not a 'storage solution'. The differences are subtle, but not unimportant. The backup providers do have service level agreements, use encryption, most deliver tools that run in the background to make backups. They're not limited to photos, do not provide online ways to share or view photos, but their business is safe, foolproof backups. The contract specifies a garantued level of availability of your files; most consumer storage solutions do not provide any promise on your files, just a system availability (which is useful, but not good enough). I'd be looking at Carbonite, Backblaze, Crashplan. They are more expensive, but their services rely on being trustworthy a lot more than Amazon, Google etc. do.
    If you do not want to spend that level of money, do have a look at OneDrive. For some reason all the buzz is about Amazon and Google, but OneDrive has been around for a serious while, has applications and apps for every large operating system and lower prices than the others (the best offering is probably to get it via Office 365), and a reasonable amount of space available for free to get started.
     
  9. Considering MyCloud works with my computer off raises a potential for an interesting option. After I die and go to heaven (hopefully), can I continue to have access to the Cloud?
     
  10. The purpose of cloud backup is to protect against local events, such as surge, fire, flood, earthquake, building collapse, etc., any of which can wipe out all of your local drives.
    When selecting a cloud backup service, you not only want to copy files to the service, but you need to verify that they arrived safely (by comparing checksums, say) and from time-to-time verify that the files are there. Many services offer a report of saved files, but that report only represents intent, not a verification.
    Comparing the checksums has to be automated, as it's not unusual to have 50,000+ files to deal with.
    Here's an article I wrote on this subject:
    http://basepath.com/ZipVerifier/help.php
     
  11. OneDrive is the slowest and most resource
    intensive of the free/cheap cloud storage spaces
    I've tried. I had to disable it on my PC's, and
    run it only when I have significant new files to
    back up.

    Google Drive and Photos behave well in the
    background and nibble away at copying files to
    their respective spaces.

    Amazon Prime free storage is comparable to a
    gigantic online DVD using drag-and-drop copying.
    No sync, no real organizing, just a big bin. But
    it's free for Prime subscribers and reasonably
    fast and low resource demand.
     
  12. Lex, I can't say I have the same happening with OneDrive, on two PCs (and smartphone) with a reasonable ADSL line; the background process just runs and doesn't consume a lot of memory. So I guess one just probably have to try for oneself how things perform (for sure, there can be regional issues, ISP related latencies, and not each PC is alike). I wouldn't exclude upfront as the Office 365 Personal offering is a lot better value than many. But again, it's storage - more a "USB thumbdrive on steriods" than a backup solution, in my view.
     
  13. The slowdown appears to be a glitch in the
    Windows Live ID Sign-In utility. Not really worth
    pursuing for the small amount of free OneDrive
    space offered. The only reason I bother with it
    at all is because my oldest email account is
    Hotmail, but I have that forwarded to other
    accounts because the Windows Live environment is
    dreadful, slow and a resource hog. Gmail can be
    just as bad, but at least there's an option to
    use the older low resource version.
     
  14. Hi All! Wow, so many great responses. I'm only replying now bc for some reason I didn't get any alerts that I was getting responses. I do already back up onto an external drive. So, I want an off-site tertiary backup. And I'm about to hit the road and will have a lot of editing to do while traveling, so I want to access my files while I'm gone. Going to also put them onto a jump drive--it's three shoots. Going to try iDrive for now. Fingers crossed! Thanks again.
     
  15. As others have stated, one main purpose of cloud storage is to protect against the loss of your desktop and backup hard drives. Unfortunately, it is all too common to suffer loss from theft, fire, floods (including rainstorms; is your computer near an open window?), house collapse, and earthquakes.

    The cloud offers an acceptable solution, especially for its ease of use. But there are issues. There is no guarantee that a company offering cloud service today will be around in the near or distant future. Most companies do not survive for long periods of time, many years.
    Second. There is a possibility that if you upload images to some cloud services, they may consider them to be their own property. They could delete anything they want.

    Third, there is the possibility that someone at the cloud company can look at your images at will. There exists software that scans images for certain prohibited uses. Suppose you take photos of your naked children? Not only could they steal them and use them for their own purposes or gain, but they could delete one or two of your images. Would you notice? Does your upload software perform the same checks as your backup software?
    Fourth, some companies state that they will delete anything they want any time they want, and example being Facebook.

    So these are considerations when choosing a cloud service. I suspect we are better off using more than one cloud service.
    Under some circumstances, you might store your files in an adjacent building using ethernet or wireless. There is a security issue there, and it would not solve the problems of major fire or floods, but it would solve the theft problem. If the location is far away (a friend or relative), and if WiFi connections are fast enough, you could use a distant cloud you own yourself. You would need a second computer running all the time, or someone to tend to it.
    Then there are bank vaults. Safety Deposit Boxes are not terribly expensive; a small drawer will hold a lot of pocket size hard drives. But there is a convenience issue. A home safe is also an option. Check out the fireproof rating; it could get hot inside the box with a fire. Safes can be large, very heavy, but also very secure. A well-placed safe can solve the theft problem.
    I hope this is helpful.
     
  16. Using more than one cloud service would multiply some of those concerns, Robert.<br><br>Set up your own personal cloud. Use a NAS that's hooked up to the internet. (On all the time, but they don't consume that much power. Much les then a second computer.) Do indeed find a trusted friend or relative who is willing to give that thing a place in his or her house (and do the same for him/her). Or even put it in a shed or garage detached from the main house.
     
  17. I just got the nikon d5300 a few months back to start learning. This is the one: http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/dslr-cameras/d5300.html
    What I didn't realize is how big these photo files would be when I download them to my computer hard drive. They seriously have eaten up almost all of my space. I guess I chalk it up to newbie error not anticipating this.
    Regardless, I'm looking for a cloud storage or online backup solution for all my photo files.
    I found this one article on services that are good specifically for photo storage. Check it out: http://www.cloudstorageboss.com/cloud-storage-for-photos/
    I'm leaning towards Amazon's cloud service...but some of the responses here have me a little worried.
    Should I just go with a NAS at home...or a widely known cloud service like Dropbox?
    Sorry if this is a dumb question. Working my way out of "newbie" stage as fast as poissible.
     
  18. A discussion of backup options is always a good thing. The basic rule is to have a minimum of three copies of every important digital file, but I feel better having four. I have two, 1T primary drives on my desktop, two internal 1T backup drives, and two 1T external drives (WD passports) for each backup drive. I back up to the internal drives frequently, and to the external drives at least weekly, and every time I have add photos to my image drive.

    The problems are theft, fire, and lightening. You can loose everything. That's when cloud storage would be invaluable. Mycloud does not solve this problem unless you store it in a secure, off-premises location. I have heard good things about Carbonite and Amazon Drive. I tried Carbonite when it first came out, but it had limitations (it backed up only the C: drive, and sometimes it "took over" my computer when I was working.)
    I am inspired to re-try these cloud services.
     
  19. 1, 2, 3 or 4 backup drives, it doesn't matter if they're all at the same location and your house burns down. I have two friends that lost their life's work in house fires. If you can't have physical storage offsite, then Cloud is a must.
     

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