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Old Dec 28, 2008, 8:10 AM   #1
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I'm trying to figure out a safe way to manage our photos.

My current setup I store all my pictures on my local hard drive which is protected by RAID backup. All new photos usually go into a new folder in the root until my wife reorganizes them into the "library".

Once a week or so, I copy all new and changed photos to an external hard drive. I use the microsoft SyncToy 2.0 program to do this. Only renames AND NEW files are copied over. Deletions are not. This results in the backup library
getting littered as my wife will delete files from one place to another from time to time and since I am not carrying over deletions, it gets "dirty".

Any suggestions on how to handle this process?

For example, I am thinking it would be good to give my wife a "playground" where she can put new photos and prepare them before "publishing" them to the library.

Thanks.
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 9:47 AM   #2
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The most important thing about backing up is being able to restore. Otherwise, backing up is just a waste of time.

Your primary storage medium is a RAID array, and that's good. Your backup is onto an external hard disk drive, and that's probably the least reliable backup medium available.

The good news is that if you do need to restore, and the external hard disk drive works, it will contain at least what you had on your array. Since your wife moves stuff around, and SyncToy copies new stuff without deleting old stuff, both of you will be able to find what you're looking for; you'll find it where you put it, and she'll find it where she put it.

It's sloppy, but it's functional, and that's a lot better than what most people have.
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 10:58 PM   #3
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TCAV,
Why is an external hard drive the least reliable as a backup for one's picture files? I was thinking of using my personal media usb external hard drive as a backup for mine. Thank you in advance.
Pics.
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 11:49 PM   #4
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How many photos / megabytes per week do you need to back up?

How long do you need to keep the photos for? One month? One year? Ten years?

If it's under 8 gigs per week, I would consider burning them up to a single or dual sided DVD, then store the DVD's in a fire proof safe.

Put each week's photos in a separate folder on your hard drive Back up the entire week to DVD.
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 7:29 AM   #5
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picsgalore wrote:
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Why is an external hard drive the least reliable as a backup for one's picture files?
An external hard disk drive is exactly like an internal hard disk drive, except for the extra power supply (which can fail, taking everything else with it), extra interfaces (any of which can fail), and the fact that it can be dropped (loosening or damaging any of the multitude of connectors and cables, both internal and external.)

With the long overdue demise of the floppy disk, the external hard disk drive is now the least reliable storage medium.
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 7:37 AM   #6
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Backing up to DVDs is a good idea, but even DVDs don't last for ever. I'd make multiple backups, each onto a different brand, and I'd redo them every 3-4 years. And if you've got a safe deposit box, storing some there would be a good idea too.

Your RAID array is the safest storage medium you've got. The only things I think you need to back up for is when you delete something by mistake (and the external hard disk drive and DVDs would be good for that, but backing up to DVDs would be more tedious) and when your system is unavailable (fire, flood, theft, etc.) (and the DVDs in a safe deposit box would be good for that.)
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 10:36 AM   #7
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IMHO a safety deposit box is expensive overkill. I think you will have at least as good a protection by making two copies (on different brands of DVDs) and storing them in two different places in closed boxes out of the light and preferably cool. Places like your Mother's house, your Mother-in-law's house, a desk drawer at work, a friend's house, ...

Like most things there is a trade-off against cost. You will get the best security by keeping as many different copies as possible on as many different media as possible in as many different locations as possible. Each of the media and locations as good as you want to spend the money for.
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 11:25 AM   #8
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BillDrew wrote:
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IMHO a safety deposit box is expensive overkill. I think you will have at least as good a protection by making two copies (on different brands of DVDs) and storing them in two different places in closed boxes out of the light and preferably cool. Places like your Mother's house, your Mother-in-law's house, a desk drawer at work, a friend's house, ...
Agreed. That's why I said that, if the OP already had a safe deposit box, storing some there would be a good idea.
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Old Feb 5, 2009, 12:49 PM   #9
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picsgalore wrote:
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TCAV,
Why is an external hard drive the least reliable as a backup for one's picture files? I was thinking of using my personal media usb external hard drive as a backup for mine. Thank you in advance.
Pics.
Obviously I'm not TCav, but an external HDD isn't unreliable if you do your research and get the right one.

The best of the external (dedicated) HDD's out there are in the LaCie lineup. The best all-around value is the LaCie Niel Poulton external case design. I got my 750 GB (= actual 698 GB in real binary storage) for $102 delivered from Buy.com. Of the multiple interface units that are beyond straight USB, the LaCie Quadra is well-reviewed but it's a LOT more (even when on sale) than the Neil Poulton case design (and that comes with a 2-yr USA-based [in Oregon] tech support warranty). If you wanted to go most durable USB portable HDDs, IIRC, the most durable (you could drop it from a good height and nothing's damaged) is LaCie Rugged, IoMega, Toshiba then WD. While the WDs are consistently on sale for a good price for 160 GB/250 GB, the LaCie Rugged, IoMega and Toshiba you have to really watch for to catch on sale. Getting back to the standard external HDDs, the worst is Seagate by reviewers at newegg.com and elsewhere; Maxtor is nearly complete unreliable junk by the same reviewers; WD is notably better than Seagate (but it has its problems as well). The great thing about an external HDD is that if the case fails, you can crack the case open (just about all the failures are the case chipset interface but the drive is fine) and use as an internal HDD. :-) Also, you could get another external case and put the drive into that and in most cases you're good to go. The thing to remember is that most external cases (even the LaCie) are fanless (I've not seen one with a fan yet) so only have the external HDD powered for only as long as you need it active, then flip off the power switch.

As for secondary backup to DVD, you get what you pay for. Avoid anything Memorex or Ritek (Ritek especially is complete junk from the crappy dye and dye degradation). The least expensive and best USED to be Verbatim DVD, BUT with Verbatim switching to Indian and Chinese production, the only way to buy them is to physically go into the store and make sure the label says "Made in Taiwan" (MIT for short) and use the DVD+R nearly exclusively--if you can still find those (you can, but you'll have to look; most online retailers have Indian stock and some have Chinese stock, i.e., Made in China or MIC for short). The problem with Made in India (MII for short) is that Moser Baer India does the single-layer DVD stock and their dyes are inconsistent and tend to have lots of PIE/PIF errors at the start and finish of the disk and while sometimes they are stable, at other times the dye destabilizes at unexpected times.

With all that said, the BEST media still around is Taiyo Yuden (Made in Japan or MIJ for short) and the best online retailer to buy it from that has a great return policy and all-around best user experience from cdfreaks.com is Rima.com. It's a little more to get BUT the Taiyo Yuden 8x, either the DVD+R or -R always have super stable dyes and are consistently well-made in terms of lowest PIE/PIF error rates when burned at 8x or even oversped to 12x (with the right burner that's proven to handle it). So long as you store the Taiyo Yudens properly as with all cd/dvd stock (out of direct sunlight, a place with decent airflow and more or less climate-controlled conditions), there's no reason they won't last you a VERY long time. By the way, if you are a dual-layer DVD fan, the only way to go (so far that's unanimous among users) is to use Verbatim dual-layer media--but ONLY if it says "Made in Singapore" on the label (MIS for short).

Now what programs you choose to use for backup is up to you so I'll just mention what use/what I do: I do a full backup with Acronis True Image Home v. 9 and use the manual settings to engage archive splitting to 4.37 GB DVD, specify all my files to back up, then set Acronis to maximum compression, saving the 4.37 gb archives to the HDD first, then writing each one to DVD, then sending the archives to my LaCie external HDD. Only caveat is that some users (myself included) don't find Acronis intuitive to use, BUT is used because of all the other features it has.
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Old Feb 5, 2009, 2:07 PM   #10
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I didn't say that external HDDs are an unreliably storage medium, I said they are the least reliable storage medium (LaCie products notwithstanding.) And since backing up is ALL about being able to restore, having a backup medium that is less reliable than the primary medium doesn't make much sense to me.
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