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Old Dec 9, 2007, 11:07 PM   #1
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what's the best way to back up photos? my computer was infected with a virus recently and i lost quite a few photos. :sad:so, i wasn't sure if it was best to put them on a cd, or a photo hosting site, or what.
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Old Dec 10, 2007, 12:08 AM   #2
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I don't think there is a single, best way to do this. Certainly not one that works for every individual.

I don't keep my photos on my computer's hard drive. My computer is older and has a small hard drive, but even if I had a 300-500GB hard drive, I definitely would have bought more music and videos from iTunes(!), but I would notsave my image filesto it.

I have three separate hard drives. I use one with "current"images fromthe most recent two yearsand anotheronethat holdsall the older stuff. I just movedmy 2006 images to that one. The third drive is for backing up my system.

If I didn't have the website for the dual backup, I'd probably invest in a multi-disk system like a Buffalo drive that does a backup that mirrors itself on a second drive.

The images from those twodrives thatI absolutely never want to lose I upload to my website at Smugmug and I just make sure the annual fee is always paid!

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Old Dec 10, 2007, 12:22 AM   #3
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Kind of depends on how paranoid you are and how much trouble you're willing to go to.

If you just want to be reasonably safe, backing up to CD's or DVD's is good. It's even better to store at least one full set of disks at a second location so that a fire or other catastrophy can't ruin your backups along with your computer. I'm not sure if there is a difference in the archival properties of CD's vs. DVD's. That's something that I've been meaning to look into.

It can't hurt to have an external hard drive to back up to, either. I don't think that they are quite as vulnerable to virus damage as the primary (bootable) drive since most viruses and their cousins are set to install themselves on the "C" drive, which is the drive letter most often assigned to the bootable drive. If you have advance warning of a major threat to your home or where ever you keep your main computer, externals can be quickly unplugged and evacuated to a safer location.

Internet-based storage can be a good solution. I don't know what the upload speeds are for the various connections available, or what associated charges there might be. Depends on the service provider, I guess. But, it should be a pretty secure way to go. Any reputable provider will have backups on their backups. Plus, you could access your pix from any computer.

I have a dedicated internal drive (not the "C" drive) that has all my pictures. So, unfortunately, if something physical happens to my computer, it would happen to that drive also. Plus, I have them all on CD's. If my paranoia starts acting up, I might get an external hard drive. They're cheap enough, now.

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Old Dec 10, 2007, 1:08 AM   #4
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I agree that no single medium is going to work 100%, so it is best to diversify. CD and DVD longevity varies, but none of them are permanent. I have CDs I burned ten years ago which are starting to deteriorate, which isn't bad, though I have heard others report seeing problems after 3-5 years. External hard drives are a good way to back up large amounts of pictures, but then if it fails, you have an awful lot of eggs in that one basket. And hard drives do fail - I lost 8 months of photos from an unrecoverable hard drive crash. Online storage is probably as reliable as the provider, but how much of a track record do any of them have? And it won't work for those of us on dialup.

If you are really paranoid, use all of the above, and keep an external drive and a set of DVDs in a safe deposit box at the bank. First, though, ask yourself if you really think your pics are of such undying value.

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Old Dec 10, 2007, 6:56 AM   #5
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There are lots of ways to back up.

I recommend all of them.

A photo hosting site is probably the most secure method, or at least when they screw up you don't have to blame yourself.

An external hard disk drive is the most convenient way to back up, but it is the least reliable.

The best method is to use multiple methods. Whichever way works when you need it might not work the next time you need it.
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Old Dec 10, 2007, 8:00 AM   #6
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My photos are very important to me and about 18 months ago I lost several batches of photos myself. Here is how I now store my photos

1.) CD or DVD with all of the photos I take. Stored in a good 4 drawer filing cabinet. It is stored in a room away from sunlight and about 10 feet from heat/air vent 1 foot off of thr floor on a shelf.

2.) 500GB hard drive in a netgear storage central device that is wirelessly connnected to my laptop and hard wired to an old desktop unit.

3.) DVDs with the best of photos stored in a second location in a fire proof gun ammo box (For 2006 I made a total of 3 DVDs with the best of shots out of 39 discs). These are the money shot photos. So far this year 4 DVD are completed, should have one more by the end of the year.

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Old Dec 10, 2007, 8:15 AM   #7
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I would not rely on an online service for backups. A lot of photographers relied on a popular photo hosting site called photopoint.com

They went bankrupt in 2002 and shut down, leaving over 1.5 Million users without access to their images (although some former employees did eventually offer to sell CDs with images back to subscribers).

I use external hard drives for my backups.

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Old Dec 10, 2007, 8:54 AM   #8
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Safe deposit boxes are a very good place to store your backup media.
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Old Dec 10, 2007, 8:59 AM   #9
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And this is most important:

When you've done a backup, MAKE SURE YOU CAN DO A RESTORE!!!

I have tried to help several people and organizations who thought they were backing up, but when they needed it, it didn't work. If you can't restore, then you're just wasting your time backing up.
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Old Dec 10, 2007, 9:22 AM   #10
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In addition to the methods outlined above, you should consider backing up your photos as a part of a complete system backup.

You could back your photos onto external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, BlueRay Disks, HDDVDs, tape, and thumb drives. In quadruplicate. Storing one copy on the far side of the Moon, one near Pluto in the Ort cloud, ... and still not be absolutely sure you could retrieve them.

So back up as many different ways as your pocket book and patience allow. When you get a newer media type (floppy>>CD>>DVD>>BlueRay>>????), make another copy of your backup to it.

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