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A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 08-25-2007, 01:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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With all due respect to the members of the Forums I really think everyone is making the issue of backing up way too hard. The need to backup one's critical files and especially photographs is never in question but there are straightforward and easy ways to get the job done that just require a little thought and common sense to impliment. Here is my current scheme for backing up:

I have a 100 Gig hard drive that I bought a year or so ago on sale from Tiger Direct. This is just a bare hard drive. I put the drive in a USB 2.0 case that I got who knows where. I leave the drive more or less permanently connected to my computer and most of the time it is off.

When I do a shoot, after I upload the files to my computer and rotate them I copy the respective folder in mass to the backup hard drive. This insures that I always have my originals safe and protected in case of a calamity.

I then create a "Samples" folder as a sub-folder of my shoot folder and any images I manipulate I save into the Samples folder as working copies. After I am pretty sure I am done working on images from a particular shoot I copy the samples folder into the relevant shoot folder on my backup hard drive. Also, if I work on any additional photos I back them up immediately.

As far as backing up any other files such as my financial data or letters, spreadsheets, databases, etc I have a 1 Gig Jump Drive that I keep plugged into a USB port on the back of my computer and once a week I copy any files that I have worked on to this Jump Drive. If I am working on a database or spreadsheet that is particularly important to me I copy it to my Jump Drive then and there.

I don't have to worry about any sort of "automatic" backup schemes or forgetting to turn my backup drive on or forgetting to set my backup parameters or anything like that. My backup "scheme" is that I take responsibility for what I do and I make the effort remember to protect my data and photographs. As Harry S. Truman said: "the buck stops here" and that is the way it should be. Nuff said!
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 08-25-2007, 01:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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One backup copy is a little risky. If that hard drive goes bad then you have no backup. If someone breaks into your house and steals your computer and drive, then you have no backup. You might want to at least consider a 2nd external drive (you can pick up 250gb externals for $80). Then you could make backup copies of the drive you have now, and keep the new unit off premises.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 08-26-2007, 07:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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All of your backups sound like they're in your house. That's the same place all of mine were. I had thought about getting another drive and keeping it off site.

Then where was a fire in my building. Now I don't have anything from before that day.

Now I have two external drives. One stays in the apartment, one stays at the bank.

Learn from my mistake, don't make your own.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 08-30-2007, 06:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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100 gig HardDrive! I would fill that in a couple of days. I guess you really don't understand the problem.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 08-30-2007, 09:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelVest View Post
100 gig HardDrive! I would fill that in a couple of days. I guess you really don't understand the problem.
I think it would take more than a couple of days. But 100gb is too small for many of us and for that matter one would even find it hard to buy that small of a drive now days.

The real problem in the backup procedure outlined in the original post is that it is not safe. He is backing up his critical data on a thumb drive and it sounds like he just backs up each time over the last backup. So if he ever gets a virus or some other problem where the data has gone bad, but he doesn't know it, then he has backed up bad data over his last good backup.

There is no shortcut or simplistic answer to backup. Having owned and operated a software company for over 20 years (till I sold it 7 years ago) I can speak from experience. Early on we had an accounting employee who would back up all of the accounting data each day onto a 8 inch floppy disk (things were smaller in the early 80s). Each day the person would back up the data over the top of the previous day's backup. Well the data had gone bad and was bad for about 6 months before anyone realized it and so there was no backup. Just bad backups. At that point we made a major change.

In a nutshell, the way you backup is to get a number of units of media which will hold an entire backup being made at one time. If you have to rely on swapping media, then you are asking for trouble.

You backup Monday, on Monday's Media
You backup Tuesday, on Tuesday's Media
and so forth for the week.
Now on Friday, in addition to Friday's Media backup, you make another backup which you name week1.
Now on the following Monday, you backup again using the Monday media and so forth.
On Friday you start a new media called week2
and so forth till the end of the month
At month's end, you backup as usual but add a new media called month 1.
At this point you have a backup for the last 5 days on separate media.
You have a backup for all of the weeks of the month, one for each week.
You have a backup for the month on a media.
Now you can begin recycling the day and week media, but the month media goes into storage.
At end of month 2 you start a new media called month 2 and so forth.
For extra safety, you make redundant copies of the weekly and monthly medias and keep the 2nd copy off premises.
Also, for even more safety, you can rotate the daily and weekly media between 2 or more sets so that for month 2 you are using new weekly and daily media, while the first month's media is in storage. Then you rotate out that block and bring back the first set.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 09-08-2007, 11:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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With respect to the members who have responded to this post I do in fact know what I am doing and what I do works for me. I have come to realize that I am a lot different than many of the members of G1 and I have a different outlook and a different way of doing things.

A 100 Gig hard drive has lasted me for almost a year and there is still room for images. I do approx 2 to 3 shoots a month and take maybe 60 to 100 images per shoot and I shoot in JPG which while not giving me the finite amounts of control that RAW allows works just fine for me and I am happy with the results as are the models I photograph and the photographers, MUA's, and models that I associate with. Also, the resultant JPG files are a lot smaller than RAW files which saves me disc space.

I am 50 years old and in the time I have been using computers I have gotten only 1 virus and that was due to my naivette and it will NEVER happen to me again. I run a virus scan using Zone Alarms once a day and I sweep my conputer for spyware using Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware once a day as well and I do not exchange Jump Drives, CD's, Files, or anything else with others so there is no way a virus can access my computer let alone survive long enough to do any damage so the posibility of me saving bad data over bad data is non-existent.

I do recognize the need and value of off site backups and I will implement a plan to allow for this in the very near future.

I had a job a number of years ago working as a Database Administrator on an IBM AS-400 system (remember those Roger??, and yes I remember 8" floppies ) and I implemented an on-site/off-site back up plan very similar to the one described by RFS and on one or two occassions it proved to be a lifesaver.

I have used computers that had RAID arrays in them (now, that's a nightmare in and of itself) and I have used backup tape systems and Winchester drives as well as many other methods for safeguarding data and they all work when they are used but they have to be used to be effective.

Backups can be complex but very necessary things and I believe that everyone needs to come up with a system that works for them no matter how simple or complicated it may be and redundancy is a key to any backup system so let's backup our data and images and keep things safe in the photographic world.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 09-08-2007, 11:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
I am 50 years old and in the time I have been using computers I have gotten only 1 virus and that was due to my naivete and it will NEVER happen to me again. I run a virus scan using Zone Alarms once a day and I sweep my computer for spyware using Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware once a day as well and I do not exchange Jump Drives, CD's, Files, or anything else with others so there is no way a virus can access my computer let alone survive long enough to do any damage so the possibility of me saving bad data over bad data is non-existent.
Anyone can get a virus no matter what steps they take. None of the things that you mention above will stop a Zero Day Virus, for example. There is always a period of time when a new virus first hits before the various AntiVirus software updates have the needed data to spot the new virus. Some of the newer viruses can be picked up just by visiting "poisoned" websites that may have code that can exploit problems in the OS or things like Root Kits that are installed by software products or even companies like Sony when you play certain CDs they were selling for awhile. You never know when one of these kinds of problems is going to occur. Even though I take lots of precautions (even more than you do), I have been hit several times. It is a matter of luck and how active you are on the Internet. As a web designer and SEO expert, I have to visit quite a lot of sites every day to keep up with the industry. I have always been able to recover because I always have several redundant full backups and can start an orderly roll back process when one of my computers is compromised.
Cheers,
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 09-09-2007, 08:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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In Defense of Incremental Backups...
What we back up is a bit different than the example of an accounting system -- different in an important way. New images are completely independent of old ones. Incremental backups are therefore perfectly safe and make the media more manageable. A virus cannot affect a DVD while it's sitting in a vault. If the images were readable at the time they were backed up, there is no need to back them up again except to have redundant media.

I'll certainly agree that having full backups for every day of the week for the past 5 years is better than having incremental backups for the same time period -- but the amount of additional security for the amount of time and cost is in my opinion not worth it. The life of DVD media is about 40 years. I make 1 backup DVD of my images immediately. Post editing, I make another. If I need to roll a shoot off of my system, I make another. The first 2 DVDs go to off premises storage. The final one is held in a fire proof vault in my house.

Using a RAID Array
As for protecting yourself from drive failure, I'd suggest a RAID array. They are a very cheap and easy way to ensure that your main PC is automatically backed up every second of every day. Most modern motherboards have SATA RAID controllers built into them. Just be sure you read up a bit on configuring the array. Hint: If the capacity of the array is LESS than the sum of the capacities of the drives, you configured it for security. That's good. If it is EQUAL, that's bad and you've only increased your risk of loss. There are more options than 2 with some controllers, but that's for a different discussion.

Examples:

Your machine has 2 x 500gb drives, available space = 500gb. Good! One drive is always mirroring the other. If a drive fails, you'll have all of your files available.

Your machine has 2 x 500gb drives, available space = 1000gb (1 tb). Bad! Your system is spanning drives. If either drives fails, you'll likely lose everything.

Your machine has 3 x 500 gb drives, available space = 1000gb (1 tb). Good! One drive is serving as a parity drive (mirroring the rest). If a drive fails, you'll have all of your files.

Note -- this doesn't replace the need for off-premise backup. Someone (or a fire, virus, etc. could still kill the entire PC with all drives). It just eliminates the risks of single drive failures. My own array was put to a very real test last year when a drive failed -- and while the system warned me of it via a popup, I kept right on using the computer with no hiccups. There was no need to try to load backup media.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 09-09-2007, 08:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Remember that RAID only solves the problem of hardware failure. It will not save you if you make a mistake and delete a file or some other software issue corrupts the system. External backup is still needed with RAID systems.

Just a thought.
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Re: A Solution To The Backup Issue
Old 09-09-2007, 09:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, myself, I have 2 external 500 gb HD's, along with a 320 gb, as well as backing up them onto dvd. I do like the idea of keeping one drive or one set of dvd's off site in a safe deposit box or other very safe location, but I can't seem to part with a hard drive, but as far as the dvd's, it's already such a pain putting my images onto approx 20 dvd's. I think I need to check out a blu ray dvd burner or an hd-dvd burner, but honestly before I do that, I'm gonna wait until the whole format war ends.
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