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August 22, 2011


By the time I fill up one hard drive there is a new one available that doubles (at least) capacity, and I move everything over to the new one. It is quite possibly the laziest and least efficient way to do things as I have to get three drives. One primary and two for the RAID 1 backup. And I generally don't have use for the old drives.

Apart from easy data redundancy there is nothing to recommend my way of doing things. The sad thing is I know the way to make things efficient, I just cannot get up the motivation to spend the uninterrupted hours that would be necessary to fix things.

Hi Gordon,

Great story and you went with a great product. I use the OWC Mercury Elite drives for my business document and personal storage. Never had a problem in the 5 years I've had 'em.

For photo archives, however, I went with the Newertech GuardianMAXimus RAID-1 drives, also available through OWC. These I replace as necessary. The benefit to these drives is they are RAID-1, mirrored devices, so I always have 2 backups of my important images. If one drive goes bad, I can rebuild the RAID on the fly by popping out the defective drive with a new one. Nothing beats having multiple backups! :)

Great to see someone comment on the Taiyo Yuden discs, too! These are wonderful and beat most anything on the consumer market for reliability.

I, like almost everyone, have an unmitigated disaster story. I don't however have something one could describe as a brilliant strategy, but it is one that has saved me twice from another disaster. From experience I can say that even the most respected hard drives can fail. I now stay away from RAID and the back-up all on one convenient drive strategy. Instead, I run three hard drives for each year. One for Raw files (which contain Canon's DPP metadata) one for the resultant converted/edited JPG files and one as a back-up of both. All three drives are made by different but "respected" hard drive makers.
I gave up on DVDs years ago because I found them to be the least safe method of backup. Not brilliant, but reasonably fool-proof.
Oh, and I never keep photos or private/sensitive documents on my laptop in case it gets stolen.

My backup and storage system is as follows:

To back up the 160gb drive in my Mac Book Pro I have a 500gb portable with a bootable copy of the 160 made with Carbon Copy Clone. For storage I have two 1tb portables with duplicate copies of my files also made with Carbon Copy Clone.

As I do work on the Mac I back it up to the 500 with incremental backup that only copies changed files. As the Mac fills I offload to a 1tb portable and update its backup also with incremental backup. If the Mac Book drive fails I can boot directly from the 500 and if theres a problem with one of the 1tb's it has a duplicate. With incremental backup each backup only takes a few minutes.

I bought all 3 portable drives on sale for just over $300 because with this system it's not critical that they be top of the line. Carbon Copy Clone is shareware.

I went through some failed drives and lost work before I contrived this system. I hope this info will help others too.

I use an external drive to make a complete, bootable copy of my (1TB) media drive using SuperDuper. (I also use the Mercury Elite drives and have had no problems with them.) I have made no serious attempt to edit my photos to a "best" list; I should. (I do rate them using Adobe Bridge.) That said, IF I had such a collection I would consider backing it up to one of the online services. Has anyone tried backing up such a reduced set to one of these services? The "cloud" has a different set of security issues, to be sure, but at least it won't burn down.

Call me thick, but I tried Mozy [an online backup service] and just never got the hang of utilizing it effectively. With backup drives as I described previously, it's all simple and under my control.

I gather all the photos of the same session (situation, juorney or whatever) in a folder named according to this format: YYMM Title. This folder contains three subfolders: YYMM Title - RAW (no matter they are real raw or out-of-camera jpg's, YYMM Title - Selection and YYMM Title - Portfolio.
Each folder is copied in an external 3Tb LaCie hard disk connected to the FireWire port of my Mac.
Another copy sits in the internal hard disks of the old Windows machine I am forced to keep in order to properly drive my Epson 7600 printer, which is no more compatible with the Mac platform since the release of Snow Leopard (thank you, Epson; I will keep this in mind when -if- I'll ever buy a new large format printer).
Then every folder is burned into a DVD which is kept in a metal case in a different room of my house.
I do all the copyng job as soon as I empty my SD cards, and strictly manually. I don't mess up with auto-backup applications nor RAIDs nor anything. I am also allergic to any browsing software requiring the image files to be "acquired" into catalogs or the like (as Lightroom or Aperture or iPhoto).
I have been managing my photo archive this way since my very first digital captures, a dozen of year ago, and I'm fully satisfied.

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