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Archive 2012 · Best Image Archival Storage?
  
 
plnelson
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best Image Archival Storage?


I'm about to buy a D800 but even as things stand now, I have a huge collection of images I've take over the years. I like to save my best images as 16 bit/channel TIFFs.

I've been using writable DVDs. Although people have raised some concerns about the long-term stability of them, when I first started to do this in 2002 I created reference DVDs that I check periodically and so far there has been no data loss. But longer they age the greater the risk. Furthermore, the DVD readers and writers on most PC's are limited to 4.7G. Higher capacities are available but they're not very common which could make recovery hard. Now that I'll be shooting with a 36MP camera 4.7 G isn't much.

Magnetic media (e.g., hard drives) have an even shorter shelf life but they have lots of capacity. I have a stack of portable USB hard drives and I do a full backup every night that I do any work, and rotate through the stack. A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, etc. I always keep 2 stored offsite in a safe deposit box. But this isn't really archival.

Back in the old days of black and white film photography the film itself was pretty archival. I have Plus-X and Tri-X negatives from 45 years ago that are still perfect.

What's the best strategy today for archiving our work, and what do you do in practice?

Thanks in advance.



Jul 30, 2012 at 01:11 AM
mhayes5254
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best Image Archival Storage?


How much disk space are you currently using in total? Can you fit everything on a single HD (3TB or less)?

Hard drives are really the only practical archiving method at the moment. Although you have not yet had issues with DVD's, there are consistent reports of failures and, as you already said, the capacity is WAY too small to be practical. The best archiving strategy is a simple one that is as close to automatic as possible. That means it will always be done. You want to spend time processing images not messing with backups.

I am using a Mac and use a variation of what you describe. I have a backup drive attached to the computer and do real-time backups to it using Apple time machine. Are you really doing a full backup each time or simply updating the new files. There are many software options that simply compare the main and backup and copy the new files. There are also programs that do backups+ incremental backups but these are propitiatory formats (rather than a simple copy). Time machine is also propitiatory but is a single universal Mac format, so there is less risk (perhaps)

I have a second backup disk in a safe deposit box and I swap that with the live one periodically. In case of a disaster, I only loose back to the last safe deposit swap. It sounds like you carry this a bit further,

I am also considering going back to on-line backups but my 400 GB of files is at or above the practical limit for on-line backups. It would take several months to do the initial backup but keeping up after that would not be a problem.



Jul 30, 2012 at 03:11 AM
plnelson
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best Image Archival Storage?


mhayes5254 wrote:
How much disk space are you currently using in total? Can you fit everything on a single HD (3TB or less)?

Hard drives are really the only practical archiving method at the moment.


The keyword here is "archival". "Archival" storage is not the same thing as "backups" . Something that's archival is something that can be stored for a long time. For example, books and paper documents for archival storage should be printed on paper that's "acid free' (neutral-slightly alkaline). Archival photo paper should have extremely stable pigments so the colors don't shift or fade. Etc.

The amount of storage I need is not very big - about 150 gigs - but they represent decades of my life's work so I want to be able to store them in a form that if I don't need to access for a few years it will still be there.







Jul 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM
mhayes5254
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best Image Archival Storage?


I agree that backup and archiving are, in principle, different things. With current technologies the complication is having a way to check that the media is still viable. That is very hard to do with DVD and similar technologies. With a hard drive you can easily have multiple copies and there is software that can quickly give you some idea of the health of the volume. If a disk starts to fail you have time to react and replace it.

With the number of copies you indicate you are making, it seems quite safe and the backup and archiving functions get merged together as a side effect. I agree with your choice of TIFF as an archiving format. There are all kinds of arguments as to whether the various raw formats can be considered for archival use. I have no idea if they are but TIFF is certainly a better bet.



Jul 31, 2012 at 12:45 AM
tsdevine
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best Image Archival Storage?


I have an original Windows Home Server (not the new 2011 version), which mirrors all my files on multiple hard drives. I have Crashplan backing up my files on there to its servers, as well as a hard drive that is attached to my dad's computer (all encrypted.) (It supports backup to their servers as well as friends.) Plus I periodically copy the files to another hard drive. So I have my files on no less than 3 different hard drives on site, as well as a copy offsite, as well as to the Crashplan servers.

I have about 580 GB backed up that way. If I see a drive reporting errors, I replace it. For this volume of data, this seems to be the most reliable and workable solution for me.

-Tim



Jul 31, 2012 at 09:58 AM





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