Differences between card, SSD, HDD as backup medium?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by Jochen, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Hello, I 'm intending to get some (links to) nerdy background knowledge, beyond cents per GB.
    I am aware that HDDs might be still the cheapest storage medium, at least for the domestic huge scale project.
    OTOH I am honestly confused about what I should use as a portable solution.
    Vacation swallowing card space became dirt cheap. - Would backing up cameras' single cards to micro SD in a tablet, via USB OTG be good enough?
    What is the technical difference between SSD and cards? - I assume both might be machine washable and are able to work while being vibrated.
    Is there any data safety benefit of saving to HDD? I understand it was common to do it in the old days, when cards for the entire trip weren't affordable, - Is there more to it? (Yes, I know that data aren't safe before there are a lot of redundant backups.)
  2. I would not travel without a laptop, which gives me the power and flexibility I need. I don't necessarily carry it out and about, but it's there in the evening when I need it.

    A hard drive is a lot cheaper per gigabyte than either a card or an SSD. The chief advantage of an SSD is its small size (although portable HDDs are not much larger), ruggedness (don't drop an HDD), and speed. I use cards ranging from 94 GB to 128 GB, and can expect to fill the former in a day's shooting on a serious photo vacation. Fortunately, 94 GB cards are now cheap enough that I can carry enough for a week or more on the road. 128 GB UHS-II cards, especially the fast ones (300 MB/s) are really expensive, so daily backups are even more important.

    Last year in Iceland, my brother accidentally dropped two cards from their holder, while bracing against a 40 mph gale common to the island. There, but for the grace of God, go i.

    Cards, SSDs and HDDs have one feature in common - they can be completely erased in an instant. Cards can be lost or dropped, and drives can fail without warning. They're great for speed and instant access, but for security, I do daily backups to Blu-Ray discs. I carry a 13" MacBookPro, which is extremely light and portable, and an external BD burner, which is about 1/4" thick and barely larger than the discs. I load a semi-rigid, zippered case with 20 or so BDs up front, and return the burned discs to it as I go.

    While it's nice to have a self-contained SSD on the road, you can save a little money by using an internal drive (not an SSD card) with a USB adapter. I have one of these (https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-...1517314279&sr=8-4&keywords=usb+to+ssd+adapter). Bare SSDs are small, and you can carry two or three in the same space as a self-contained version.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  3. I should add that SSD drives scream when connected to USB-3 or USB-C. My Samsun 1 TB tops 300 MB/s, compared to about 100 MB/s for a small HDD. Even the UHS-II, 300 MB/s card barely reaches 100 MB/s in a Kingston USB-3 reader. Transfer speed is most obvious when downloading images. It probably doesn't make a lot of difference in processing speed outside of the camera. SSDs in a Thunderbolt 2 (or 3) enclosure push 600 MB/s, compared to about 300 MB/s for a hard drive.
  4. Back in early days of SSD there were data loss problems with drives that were left unpowered for longer periods than three month. I do not know how this relates in SSDs available on stores today. Optical media is not totally reliable either. I had discs from early 2000s that were unreadable couple years ago. I still trust most traditional spinning hard drives, but they can fail or drop so multiple samples are required. For mobility I have old 2,5" 500GB WD Black on USB3 enclosure that seems to be operating even with lower USB2 current output.

    Memorycards have very high capasity vs size, but I usually do not use them as storage for longer period.

    I have thought about getting tablet with microSD slot and using microSD card with adapter on camera, but have not quite reached there.
  5. FWIW
    I am another who wouldn't travel without a laptop. Every evening, I download from the camera memory cards to the HD on the laptop, and then back up to a 1TB 'pocket' sized HD. I also keep the memory cards and don't reuse them until I have, if ever, filled all of them up.
  6. Me too, except my SSD external HD is 2-TB. ;-)

    Cards are best way to accidentally format away your favorite images. If you shoot in RAW and shoot very much, you'll soon have an expensive, confusing pile of cards. On a HD, assuming you use reasonable management protocols, everything is always organized and easy to search.

    When I get home, I immediately back-up to the 16-TB HD, which is automatically backed up again, on the cloud, by Backblaze.
  7. Well the 1TB USB is only for travel, my backup at home is 5(five) TB:p
    Gary Naka and dcstep like this.
  8. I'm not entirely there either. Considering that my tablet has close to zero internal storage, I see no benefit in shooting adapted micro SD cards, for ordinary people who can't afford cloud access permitting the uploading of a day's harvest of RAWs overnight abroad &/ on the road. - Editing keepers to upload them to social media networks might be an option though. TBH: I don't fancy the thought of handling micro SDs in the field; too close to watchmaking for my taste.
    OTOH a card in a tablet or phone could serve as a backup medium. Same about CFs from the big stay at home SLR, accessed via reader.
    Agreed but usually I format my cards after copying them to the 2nd domestic PC. A vacation with backup to cards in the field would most likely be originals on SD, copies on different size. - If I don't need to clear (camera) cards, I could probably bring them home, safe to PCs and format my field backups away.
  9. As a longer term backup solution - HDD are way cheaper than SSD. 2TB is expensive and 4TB etc are unheard of, least I haven't.

    For a shorter term project and you need portability? Maybe a laptop with a external SSD and only hold your more recent stuff so you can get away with a smaller size. I read that Lightroom is mostly CPU and RAM intensive. However for portability you may want the SSD for quicker write times when backing up etc ... when you are away from home etc. But you really need more than one copy for redundancy. SSD when it fails doesn't give warnings.

    If you are not going to use a laptop, I don't know because I heard that you can rig up a tablet etc ... to access memory cards but it can be quite slow. Maybe one of those battery operated HDD with the builtin memory card reader.

    Edit. For my personal stuff, if I wanted really lightweight. Travelling, no checked luggage etc. No laptop. I would then use a camera with dual memory card slots and have 2 copies with me and buy more memory cards. Also depends on how much you shoot and hopefully not videos.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  10. It depends.
    Sometimes I carry a laptop, sometimes I do not.
    I would shoot with just memory cards and keep the used one separate from the unused ones.
    Another tactic is to have 4 or more cards, number then, then every day rotate to the next number card. That way the vacation is spread over the 4 cards, and no one card has a massive block of days, so while it would hurt, you could loose one card and not loose your vacation.

    IF I have a laptop with me, I backup to the laptop every day. Laptop has a SSD.
    I do not reformat the card until I get home and copy the file to my desktop, then backup the desktop files to an external drive.
    IOW, I treat the card like film, I don't reuse it during the trip. I buy and carry enough card capacity to last the trip.
  11. - Agreed upon not using them for archiving everything and the kitchen sink at home. - Back to vacations:
    Unfortunately no real solution for me. There are a lot of no money and not yet done R&D dividing me from that step. - I have too many good enough appearing single slotted cameras I'd like to take out.
    Upon transfer speed: I don't see the big issue or a need to get hold of a portable USB 3 solution; my best laptop offers only USB 2. Assuming permanent power supply even an LPT mounted reader, shoveling about 1CD/h of data all night long, should cut my cake. I'm somewhat optimistic about running a tablet based USB 2 copying rig during an unplugged road trip on bike battery, although I might be overlooking the generator challenge of recharging the cameras...
    They look like heftily overpriced one trick ponies to me. They have imaginable appeal, when you are marching and would really need to copy a card. But how are you going to make a 2nd copy from the data on that device? - Obsolete technology?
  12. For travel, I always try and take my laptop with me so I can download my images daily and back them up to a portable hard drive, either a SSD or a regular external drive with a USB 3 port. In addition I try and download the images from the cards directly onto a device like the Sanho UDMA3 ColorSpace Hyperdrive. You can insert most card directly into the hyperdrive and download the images. You can view them too, but I never do this. I just want another device with all of my images stored onto it. This way I have the images in three places--my laptop, external drive and the hyperdrive. If I travel to a place where a laptop is not practical, I take two Hyperdrives and download the cards to each hyperdrive. The hyperdrives work off of a battery or electricity, so sometimes, I begin my backups before I reach my hotel room. . I prefer not to rely on just the card as one of my three sources as I shoot RAW and the cards fill up quickly.

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