Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   General Discussion (
-   -   Best storage option? (

fh Feb 7, 2005 1:43 AM

I am getting extremely paranoiac about loosing all of my pictures and I am starting to shop around for a reasonbly priced way to store all my digital pictures.

I shoot Raw (5meg a pic)and roughly take 100 pictures a month on an average.

I am contemplating getting an external hard drive but I also feel that those devices can also collapse on me at one point.

I am also looking at upgrating my laptop and get a 60G laptop with DVD RW.

My understanding is that I could burn DVD with more pictures than plain CD. I tend to favor this solution as DVD will still be around 5 years from now as opposed to external hard drive drivers which can become obsolete as technologyevolves.

Oh well, bottom line, I would like to hear what are most of you doing to ensure a mean crash would not make you loose all these precious moment captured on digital pics.

An yes I do print lot of them just in case...

Thanks for sharing your views on this.

ImKayd1 Feb 7, 2005 1:57 AM

I hear an external hd plus backing to dvd. I have an external drive and cd back up (no dvd writer).


Stevekin Feb 7, 2005 4:32 AM

I would suggest you get either an internal 300Gb hard drive, in the U.K. approx £120.00 or an external 300Gb approx £ 180.00. Obviously a premium for external but you would have the flexibility to use on other computers. I don't know where you are, but if you are not in the U.K. you could probably find these cheaper.

At 5mb per file, 100 images per month (approx), if your shooting habits stayed that way, you could store up to 60,000 pictures on a 300Gb drive (approx) and at a rate of 100 per month, you would take 50 years to fill it !!!

Of course if you bought a lower capacity hard drive you would store less, but potentially lose less in the event of a failure. Where do we draw the line ?? To really be on the safe side,should we store one image per hard drive and one image per DVD, the only way to completely minimize our losses ?? :?

I know some willduplicate everythingon two hard drives, but I think it would be adequate to store on one and burn to DVD, making two copies of each, keeping a working one to hand and storing the other in a different location. Media is so cheap now, I keep three DVD copies of each and plan to burn them again at regular intervals. Just haven't decided how often yet.

Your understanding that DVD = more pics than CD is of course right. Approximately 6.5 CD's to 1 DVD. Then there is dual layer DVD. Once these babies come down in price.............

Hope this helps,


Norm in Fujino Feb 8, 2005 1:53 AM

I still save my photos to CD-ROM; currently I shoot SHQ Jpegs (about 2.2M/photo), so I can get 300+ photos per disc. I probably won't go to DVD until I get an 8M-pixel or more camera--or have reason to start shooting RAW/TIFF. My reasoning is that I prefer to spread my eggs among a bit more numerous baskets rather than risk loosing so many if one disc should go bad. Even so there's not much chance of that; when burning a disc I always burn two copies: one for use and one for archive. If I need to use a photo from an old disc I use the "USE" disc only. If the "USE" disc becomes damaged or unreadable (none has yet), I will copy new discs from the remaining archive disc.

I also have my photos filed on the disc together with a unique text file that describes the photos and tells me in what directory each one is found. The text files from all discs are duplicated on a directory of my hard drive, so when looking for a specific photo I merely do a text search of the files using the appropriate key word and up pops the file telling me on what disc and in what directory that specific photo is.
I use a text only file for this since I don't trust future word processing technology. I feel that a pure ASCII text file has the greatest chance of surviving technological advances.

fh Feb 8, 2005 1:58 AM

Thanks to all for the good suggestions. I am still shopping around....Will let you know what I decided. It was helpful.

Freefly Feb 8, 2005 3:15 AM

The safest way, at the moment IMO, is to store all of your digital files on an EXTERNAL hard drive. CD´s and DVD´s are getting bad press at the moment, especially the cheaper ones, as they can become corrupt quickly (5-10 years) especially if not looked after immaculately! I also had a whole case file of cd's stolen when we were robbed. I lost some irreplaceable photos and videos!I have had one cheapcd lose data after just 3 years. There is a good chance that you may lose bits of data meaning files are unable to reload. An internal hard drive is more likely to go wrong as it can be more prone to viruses etc, and unfortunately, if the pc gets stolen, off goes all your hard work with it! The safest way is to get a reasonably large external hard drive (I am getting a 1TB or 1,000GB Lacie HD)and use it to store pics that you have finished working on. To preserve its life, only turn it on when you need it, and if you go away for long periods, disconnect it and either put it in a safe, give it to a friend or neighbour to look after or take it with you! I do this knowing that should we get robbed (again) at least all of my important docs, scanned paperwork and thousands of photos, are safe! A recent well known PC magazine tested the durability of hard drives by firstly throwing it out of a 4th floor window, then driving a car over it, set fire to it and thenput it out with water, and STILL they were able to recover most of the data!!!!

slipe Feb 8, 2005 12:29 PM

If you are talking about leaving all of the images on your computer and backing them up, anything mentioned is probably safe as long as you check the backup from time to time. My only concern would be getting a file destroying virus on the external drive, but that is a pretty obscure possibility if you have good anti-virus with updated definitions.

If you are planning to remove images from your hard drive a single external drive in chancy. They do fail and recovery is pricey. You can recover images from a failed hard drive but it is a hassle as well as pricey. An external hard drive is very easy to use and organize, but I would also like an optical backup.

I like to back up on two different brands of CDR with one of them archive quality. They will last indefinitely if kept in the dark. I also like to check the error rate as any deterioration would be more damaging if you start with a higher error rate.

I have read that DVD has less error correction and is a little more chancy, but I'm not sure it is significant.

The safest brand commonly available for both DVD and CDR is Verbatim Data Life. The Azo dye is long lasting and I think they still make all of their own disks. Many companies farm them out and most have shorter lived cyanine dye.

eric s Feb 8, 2005 1:33 PM

You've gotten some good suggestions already, I wanted to mention something else.

Make sure, no matter what you do, that you actually do it! I know that sounds obvious, but the best backup strategy is only as good as how often it is done. I have two external hard disks. I make read-only copies to one of the disks (the other I use as my storage disk.) I haven't done a backup in about a month so I'm sure I'd loose some stuff that I would regret. I take upwards of 500-750 pictures a month and spend quality time editing. So make sure when you plan this that you take into account the hassle of actually doing it. Because if it isn't easy and fairly fast (or at least unattended) you won't do it.

And even the fanciest system in the world won't help you if you don't actually back up the data.


Squonk Feb 8, 2005 2:19 PM

I myself use an external HDD for backup, as well as DVD and DAT tape. I guess you could say that I'm paranoid about backup! That probably comes from working for the last 18 years in IT. It sounds like you certainly understand the importance of backup - which is A Good Thing, nay A Very Good Thing!

Others have raised the issues of optical media degrading over time, and this is very true. It's also true that you can often recover much of the data from a failed hard drive. However this can be an expensive process. We recently had one user who hadn't heeded my warnings regarding connecting his laptop to the network for backup of his data. He basically did a two week project on a laptop whose hard drive died right at the end of the two weeks. It was a mechanical failure, the disk platters needed to be removed from the original casing and inserted into a new one in a clean room environment. The cost to recover the *one* file that he needed (a CAD drawing) was around £700 (fair enough, it would have cost around the same to recover every single file on the disk, and indeed we were given several CDs containing just that. The cost comes from the expertise and facilities required to move the disk platters to a new casing).

I think that the best approach to take at the moment with a modest budget is to make sure that you have backups on both CD / DVD and an external hard disk. DVD writers are very reasonably priced today. For everyday stuff then I don't mind using cheap media, but I'm happy to pay for a good brand name to use for backing up my photos. If at all possible regularly remove a copy of your backup to another location. I store a copy at work, it could equally well be the house of a friend or relative - anywhere to reduce the "all your eggs in one basket" effect. In the terrible event of your home being broken into or having a fire you'll be very glad you did it. I also read about some "archival" quality CDs recently which I really must take a look into - probably very expensive compared to your average CD.

I still know people who refuse to make the move to digital because they are under the impression that if their PC crashed they would lose everything. I try to educate them and to point out that as long as you have a proper backup routine in place then your photos are quite possibly more secure than they would have been stored as negatives or slides - one good fire and you could lose the lot. Also the degredation of backup media is in some respects quite similar to the degredation of film stock.

Oh, one last thing. I use a Windows based PC and I always make sure that Windows is installed to a partition on its own. All of my data goes onto a second partition. It is far more common to have Windows screw up to the point where it won't boot than it is to have a hard disk fail. This way you can re-install Windows from scratch and know that all of your data is safely out of the way on the second partition. Okay, it takes a while to re-install Windows and all your applications - but that's nothing compared to years and years of work going down the drain.

Also very good point from Eric - make backup part of your workflow. It's the first thing I do once I've offloaded the photos from the camera / memory card. Once I've got that backup I know that at least I have two copies of the files.

perdendosi Feb 8, 2005 2:21 PM

Multiple files, multiple locations.

CD or DVD is a good option -- think about how long CDs have been around (probably 15 years now?) and either CD or DVD are likely to be acceptable media for many years.

External Hard Drives are a good option -- they're fast and portable.

Think, too, about some kind of web backup (especially if you have a high speed internet connection) For example, Yahoo has its "yahoo briefcase" that, for free, you can get 200 mbs of space... you can pay a reasonable amount for GBs of space. And I know there are other companies that offer this service as well (like .mac for Apple users, or even PBase or other photo sharing companies). Yes, this is not going to hold your WHOLE picture archive, but if you compressed your, say, 500-1000 most important images and regularly updated the archive, you'd not lose your most important work. This is important because if your house catches fire, or floods, or gets broken into and vandalized, you have a backup AWAY FROM your physical location.

I have all my viewable pics stored on and -- they have unlimited space (I suppose they might restrict that if people abused the privilege -- that is, loaded up images and never purchased prints) and winkflash allows you go dl the full resolution images at any time. So it's a simple solution for me.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 4:43 AM.