D700, backup Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_n._wall, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. I will soon be traveling with my D700. I would like to be able to download images from the flashcards. I have a card reader. The question is, what should I download images to. I do not want to depend on carrying around a laptop.
    I thought I might buy one of the stand-alone external hard drives I see advertised for around $100. Then, I plug the card reader into the hard drive and download away.
    My question is, what powers the external hard drive? Will it run off the camera's power supply or do these things have external power cords? In general, how do these external hard drives work, exactly? What should look for in such a unit? What are reliable brands of these things?
  2. It's more complicated than that. A stand-alone external drive doesn't have any brains. There's no operating system that understands how to manage the file system on the drive or how to manage the card reader and transfer the files. And, as you mention, you don't have anything to provide the fair amount of power required.

    This is why there are devices like the Wolverine products, or the Epson P-3000 and similar. They are basically small, dedicated computers with internal drives and batteries.

    On the other hand... you can now get very tiny "net book" style laptops for just a few hundred dollars. With a 60 or 100GB internal drive, you've got something that can offload your files AND allow you to take a look at them... as well as check you mail, surf, etc.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Hard drives are far fare less reliable than flash memory cards. A lot of people are unwilling to put a lot of images on a large capacity card in fear of losing all of them in one shot. If you are one of those, it makes far less sense to put all of your images from the trip on one vulnerable hard drive.
    When I travel, I bring one and sometimes two laptops between my wife and me, and I bring 2 to 3 additional external hard drives to have multiple copies of my images.
  4. I have an Epson P-2000 and really love it. I shoot daylight photos (jpeg) in China for fun, and do large elaborate night shots (RAW) with flash for a book. The Epson is a great tool to have for backing up files. Not only can you view them in great detail on a 4" screen, but you can also download from either a CF or SD card. In addition, you can upload files to cards. I have nine 4 gb CF cards and two 1-gb cards. First, when the 4 gb cards are full, they get uploaded to the Epson as backup. Then, any "keeper" night shots get uploaded to both 1 gb cards. This gives me four copies of the money shots, and two copies of the fun shots. The Epson has also been useful for sharing photos on the spot with other people you may be travelling with. As Shun has said, don't completely trust gard drives, they can and do fail. Protect yourself. The Epson is a lot smaller than any laptop computer, you can easily fit it in your camera bag.
  5. While I don't have one of these devices, I am intrigued by the HyperDrive backup products. No laptop required. It has a built-in battery that is rechargeable.
    Cards are so inexpensive now I would not reuse cards. Once they are filled I would tuck them away. I would feel reasonably safe with my images on both the original card and a device like the hyperdrive. If the hard drives are easy to swap in the device I would consider taking two drives and backing up to each. That gives you three copies of all your images.
  6. I have have a Hyperdrive ColorSpace O, and while it is easy to install hard drive (I bought the device without drive and installed a 160GB Hitachi), it is not something I would do every time I copy a card. I used it this summer on a trip to Namibia, however since I had an inverter for the rental car I never really put it to test with respect to battery longevity and had maximum possible verification turned on (including thumbnail view while transferring), which does not give maximum transfer speed.
    Alternatively there is a new ColorSpace UDMA version out now that is supposed to be able to synchronize to an external drive. However I have yet to hear from someone actually testing it in a practical situation with respect to speed of transfer to external drive etc. It requires an OTG cable that is not supplied with the unit. While price is coming up, it is still quite bit below the Epson devices etc.
  7. "When I travel, I bring one and sometimes two laptops between my wife and me, and I bring 2 to 3 additional external hard drives to have multiple copies of my images."
    Could be a good/safer idea to copy this images to DVDs instead of HDDs? (I`m an ignorant in this topic).
  8. Laptops and the portable drives all have the "vulnerable" hard disks in them. So the basic security measure is having more than a single copy of the files at all times. My approach is having plenty of CF cards with me, each night today's files are copied to an external drive, and the card is put in the "to be reused later" stack. So it won't be reused on the same trip unless I run out of cards, and then before being reformatted, it is again copied to a second drive.
  9. Of course I agree with Bjørn here - careless of me not to mention that I also used a laptop computer to copy files to a second external drive in addition to the Hyperdrive during the Namibia trip. When that drive and drive space on the computer filled up towards the end, the CF cards (55GB total) were not cycled and images remained on the cards as the second backup. It only takes some slippy fingers to kill an external HD. I know - it happened to me twice in the past when they fell out of a pocket. In both cases they stopped working.
    Regarding the Hyperdrive ColorSpace UDMA an issue can be to power an external HD, many of them these days only receive power through the USB connector. While the the OTG specification may allow the host to supply power to the external drive, it is a question if this is implemented. A powered USB hub may be a solution, however then we have the cable clutter we wanted to avoid by using these backup-devices. May be the ultimate solution would be two of these devices which each can power them-self + enough cards to keep everything on the cards during the trip. Would be a pretty high cost, enough for a dedicated ultralight notebook computer.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jose, both of our laptops have DVD writers on them. In fact, my wife's can write BluRay discs. In our trip to Madagascar back in 2005, I did bring a bunch of blank DVDs and wrote my images files onto DVDs every night. However, portable external drives have gotten smaller with much higher capacity now. Therefore, I would rather write my files onto multiple hard drives. When you need to bring a stack of DVDs, it gets a bit bulky.
    In my case, we always travel with a group of hard-core photographers so that I always have access to several laptops even though mine crashes.
    But if you can buy sufficient CF cards to last the entire trip without having to format and reuse any card, that would be an even better approach. Flash memory cards are much much safer than hard drives that have mechanical parts. However, I found out that modern hard drives are quite tough too. Last year in Brazil, I dropped one onto a concerte floor and there isn't even a scratch on it.
  11. One very small laptop.
    One external hard drive for secondary backup.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Peter, the main problem with your arrangement is that if your laptop fails, you will be stuck.
    Again, in my case I typically travel with several people all with laptops, so I am not that concerned if my one laptop fails.
    A few years ago I talked to John Shaw about this. He actually brings a 2nd laptop hard drive with the operating system (Windows) loaded onto it so that if his laptop hard drive fails, he can swap that 2nd drive in. Since hard drive failures is the primary reason that laptops fail, that is one way around it. Essentially he carries a clone of his laptop hard drive when he travels.
  13. I have about 80 gigs worth of memory cards that still cost less than on standalone photo storage drive. There's not much to go wrong with a CF card plus if I have a corrupt card I'm only going to lost a hundred or so RAW images instead of EVERYTHING as on a hard drive. The only time I use all the cards is on vacations but the peace of mind is worth having extras lying arounf 50 weeks out of the year.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Having 80G in CF (or SD) card space certainly would solve a lot of problems, but the issue is cost. I have two 8G cards plus some 4 and 2G ones, and that is more than sufficient for one day worth of wildlife shooting. I am a bit reluctant to buy more CF cards because I feel that this format will be phased out, but so far, even the latest D3X still uses CF (exclusively).
  15. Thanks Shun. I have recently experienced a failure with my work laptop`s HDD... it certainly occurs! After several attemps trying to start Windows without sucess, I fixed it with a sharp knock over the HDD area... it started to work again. I think I was lucky.
  16. I fixed it with a sharp knock over the HDD area... it started to work again. I think I was lucky.

    Get it replaced now, Jose. That train has left the station... next stop, permanently dead. Well, it could have been a loose ribbon cable, too, I suppose. But these things always go down hill, sometimes rapidly.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jose, something exactly like that happened to my desktop about 10 years ago, but the knock essentially gives you enough time to transfer your data from the almost dead hard drive to another good drive. In that sense you are lucky to avoid a potentially costly disk recovery. As Matt says, I wouldn't consider that a permanent fix.
    I routinely copy my images to 2 to 3 hard drives. They are far less reliable than flash memory.
  18. Thanks for the good advice. I`m thinking on it. I know I need an updated computer at the office. I have already replaced mine at home.
    It`s funny that the Technical Service doesn`t look interested on replacing the HDD... looks like my 5 years old Toshiba is too old for that (!!).
    Matt, I think the disk is damaged, it has a continuous odd noise. When the failure occur, there was another cyclical sound that stopped with the knock.
    "... you are lucky to avoid a poentially costly disk recovery..." What a great truth. I spent a huge ammount of money years ago (a 486DX? based computer) for a disk recovery. It makes me to consider that storage updating.
  19. When I travel, I carry
    1 laptop
    1 bootable complete copy of my internal laptop drive as an external FWdrive
    2-4 USB powered Passport drives of suitable size (160-500 GB each).
    Lots of Compact Flash cards, but never ever enough to cover the whole project. (cost per GB is way to high compared to a drive)
  20. Here's my thought. If you are a pro and you lose your original raw files from a location shoot you will also lose your paycheck, future assignments, and gain a poor reputation. If you are going on vacation you only need 1 back up, if that. When I shoot for myself, even if it includes extensive travel to places I don't usually go I put a Wolverine on my belt. When I fill a card: First I put a new one in the camera, then as soon as possible I take the full card and put it in the Wolverine and push the copy button.
    When it finishes I pull out the card and check the first and last file number from that download. If it matches the card (which I put in the camera to check) I reformat the card, if it doesn't I recopy again until I am sure all the images are on the Wolverine. This seldom happens, but it did once and I didn't check (human error, if you can call photographers human) What did I lose? A roll of film. But that's happened before sending my film to processing in years past.
    At night, I recharge all my batts, camera, wolverine, strobe, etc. I make sure all cards are downloaded to the Wolverine and reformatted.
    I've done this with and without a laptop. Lately I always take my laptop for two reasons. Emails and internet when needed. But also I import the wolverine into Lightroom. Check my shoot, delete the obvious, select the picks, keyword, etc. Sometimes I put together an ongoing slide show so I know how the shoot is going, what I may be missing, or find a subject that I wish I shot more of I can go back since I'm there. I can also use it to show potential clients.
    If I lose my laptop I'll be sad but I will not lose the originals. (I suggest to back-up your entire laptop before leaving, buy insurance, and take a 1 gig USB memory stick. Back-up files you change on the trip. I keep an Excel budget spreadsheet and daily log. I learned that one the hard way and the daily log was the one item I missed the most. I keep places, names, contacts, best food,etc)
    The wolverine is always with me. Now, lets suppose we do lose the originals. What did we do when we shot film? Lose the film, lose the shoot. We only had the originals, no back-ups.
    I'm not sure why we are so obsessed about multiple back-ups now that we shoot digital?
    Best to all and I hope you don't lose your way.

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