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Thread: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    I have my photos backed up on a hard-drive but I am thinking that it would be a good idea to back them up on-line too.

    While researching on-line back up systems, Back Blaze seems to be highly recommended (and I think it backs up raw photos, too) but my understanding from reading the information is that it can take a month or two to back up all your photos on-line? This seems odd, and of course now that I think I should back up my photos on line, I want to do it right away.

    Also, it is the now the rainy season where I live, which means lots of storms and power outages, so I can't leave my computer on (especially if it takes an entire month) until the back up is completed.

    Any recommendations? Have I misunderstood how Back Blaze works?

    Thank you.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    I don't have any great solution to this, but just responding to your question about time: The length of time it takes to back up photos depends on how many photos you are backing up and how large the files are (in megabytes). It also depends on the speed of your internet connection. If you have a photo library that's 30 gigabytes, it could take days to upload even on a fast connection.

    You also need to check with your internet service provider to see if there are caps on the amount you can upload and download each month. Some offer unlimited plans, but caps are becoming more and more common. If you upload too many photos you could risk incurring extra charges from your internet provider.

    One way around this is to not back up all your photos, but just the ones you really don't want to lose -- the ones you've ranked with 4 and 5 stars in Lightroom, for example.

    Another option is to buy another hard drive and keep it at a friend's house, backing up to it occasionally. It's not as convenient as an online backup, but it's a lot faster -- especially if you have to recover your photos. You can transfer them from one disk to another much more quickly than you can download them from your online backup service.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    I find burning to DVD makes a handy third method, besides an external hard drive.

    As Brad said, uploading large Tiff files for example can take quite a long time.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Thank you. Good to know.. I'm currently living in Mexico, and the internet connection speed is good most of the time but not always... And I did not know that caps were applied or that their were limits, or extra charges and as I'm not fluent in Spanish it's likely to be somewhat of a challenge to figure out... but I will.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Probably your internet provider has a web page where they describe their plans, and even if you're not fluent in Spanish you can probably figure out that way if there are limits per month.

    Even so, though, it's worth exploring the hard drive-at-a-friend's-house option as your main off-site backup, and use an online backup service for photos while you're traveling and don't have access to your hard drive. If you work in an office, for example, you could keep your backup hard drive locked in a drawer there. I did that for years. My solution now is to back up my important files to a 64 gigabyte USB flash drive that I keep in my pocket. That way it's always with me. So if I leave the house and someone steals my computer or the house burns down, I'll still have all my files.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Thank you. I will check out the plan, and I will be enjoying two weeks in Canada this August, and looking to purchase one, or maybe a few of those 64 gigabyte USBs! I was not aware that they came with so much memory these days!

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I find burning to DVD makes a handy third method, besides an external hard drive.

    As Brad said, uploading large Tiff files for example can take quite a long time.
    Burning a DVD can be risky as they are not long-term archival storage devices. I've had DVDs become unreadable in as little as one year after burning.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I will be enjoying two weeks in Canada this August, and looking to purchase one, or maybe a few of those 64 gigabyte USBs!
    They're not cheap

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Just to add to some of the other comments, I do not use online backup, purely because of bandwidth issues. It would take weeks if not months to upload all of my data and I would blow through my monthly bandwidth caps in a day. Instead, I use an external backup device. Right now I am using a NAS (Network Accessible Storage) RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) on my home network. There are two hard disks in the RAID unit, and if one of them fails, the other still has all of the data.

    I have two copies of all of my images; one on my computer hard drive and the other on the NAS RAID as a backup. I have my computer in my basement office and the backup upstairs in my wife's office. I would have to have a major house fire or other catastrophic event for me to lose all my backups.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    That's okay... It sounds like the cost is well worth it and simpler than the on-line back up alternative.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    That's okay... It sounds like the cost is well worth it and simpler than the on-line back up alternative.
    I wouldn't neccessarily say that it is simpler, but it is a lot faster and I never have to worry about the supplier changing the rules, losing or publishing my files or going out of business. The downside is that my solution is not catastrophy proof.

    I tend to use a two-tier approach to backup. General photography is chronologically stored (by date) and "special events" are stored in event directories and chronological subdirectories, by date. As long as I know the event or roughly when I shot things, I can find them quickly.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Thank you everyone... Chronological order is also a great tip.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by bhurley View Post
    They [64GB USBs] are not cheap
    I bought a 320GB Seagate external HD (USB connection) and downloaded Microsoft's free SyncToy. The combination works well for me.

    My Hughes satellite connection only allows 250MB/day data 'bandwidth' and can be as low as 10KB/sec at times due to the 'latency' of satellite communication, and maybe 150KB/sec on a good day :-(

    Heartily agree with the "archiving in a separate place" policy, one fire would wipe out all my stuff for sure!
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 24th July 2012 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Glurk . .

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by xpatUSA View Post
    I bought a 320GB Seagate external HD (USB connection) and downloaded Microsoft's free SyncToy. The combination works well for me.

    My Hughes satellite connection only allows 250MB/day data 'bandwidth' and can be as low as 10KB/sec at times due to the 'latency' of satellite communication, and maybe 150KB/sec on a good day :-(

    Heartily agree with the "archiving in a separate place" policy, one fire would wipe out all my stuff for sure!
    The main issue I have with your solution is that you have placed all of your backup resources into a relatively fragile piece of equipment. External drives, especially the full-size ones are relatively sensitive to shock and one knock and all of your data could be lost. USB drives have to be physically close to the computers that they are connected to and that limits one as to putting them in a safe place.

    All I can say is I learned all this the hard way, and while I do use stand-alone external drives, I don't use them in applications that would put me in a position where I risk losing critical data.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Grumpy, the only risk I see with your setup is exactly what you described: a house fire, or more likely a burglary. Typically when burglars go through a house they snatch the electronics, which includes hard drives as well as computers. That's why I like having some sort of off-site backup just in case. On the other hand, we also need to be pragmatic. If my house burned down there would be a lot of things I'd mourn more than my photographs. But portable hard drives and large-capacity USB flash drives (they make them up to 250 gigs now!) mean that we have the option to save our important data offsite if it helps us sleep better at night.

    I actually use my flash-drive-in-a-pocket mainly for my work files; I synchronize it with my computer every day, and if my work computer ever dies I can just fire up another computer and my files will be instantly available. As for my photos (and my music files), I keep a small number of the "desert island" images and music that I'd really, really miss if they disappeared. The rest of them I can live without so I don't keep offsite backups (I do backup daily to an external drive, though).

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    I use JustCloud as my backup. It takes a while to originally back up my vast number images and it is more epensive than I thought it was. However, I have it and I am happy that I do. I had a virus recently which hid all my file names and even infected my external hard drives. I signed up for Just Cloud shortly after that virus infection.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    The main issue I have with your solution is that you have placed all of your backup resources into a relatively fragile piece of equipment. External drives, especially the full-size ones are relatively sensitive to shock and one knock and all of your data could be lost. USB drives have to be physically close to the computers that they are connected to and that limits one as to putting them in a safe place.
    It's not quite as bad as it sounds, Manfred. I'm not a professional photographer and I don't even keep my Sigma X3F raw originals, by and large. The only "critical" photographic items I have are my watch collection pics and they are all up on my website. Got a lot of stuff up on Picasa on-line, too. On my desktop, the "My Documents" folder is currently only 6.26GB, pretty small really. The Seagate 320GB drive is tiny, almost looks like a card reader and it lives up on a shelf, only plugged in when backing-up. I also sync it to Wifey's laptop, so we're not too bad really.

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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    One really want to ensure that they have at least 3 copies of critical files - with at least one of those being off site.

    I've changed my regime recently - these days I keep a "working set" on a small portable hard drive which I work from, but I copy the current set to both my home and work PCs each time I work on them. Then for "the chosen ones", I zip them and upload them to Google Drive.

    I still have some backed up on DVD, but am feeling less confident about them as time goes on (even though I store them carefully, and have never once had one let me down).

  19. #19

    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    This is a great topic! I back up to several different mediums. I use "Gold" DVD's which are more costly but have a longer life span. I also use a raid array. Never use a single hard drive as they fail. A raid array will allow you to switch out a bad HD. I use HP media server and it has served me well. There are also some fireproof raid drives out as well. But ultimately you will have the most success and comfort using a cloud server like Amazon. The initial upload is slow but will give you the greatest protection in my opinion.

  20. #20
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for On Line Photo Back Up

    Quote Originally Posted by xpatUSA View Post
    It's not quite as bad as it sounds, Manfred. I'm not a professional photographer and I don't even keep my Sigma X3F raw originals, by and large. The only "critical" photographic items I have are my watch collection pics and they are all up on my website. Got a lot of stuff up on Picasa on-line, too. On my desktop, the "My Documents" folder is currently only 6.26GB, pretty small really. The Seagate 320GB drive is tiny, almost looks like a card reader and it lives up on a shelf, only plugged in when backing-up. I also sync it to Wifey's laptop, so we're not too bad really.
    Sounds like a smart strategy as you only power on your backup drive when you actually use it. This absolutely reduces the risk of accidental damage. It sounds like you use a laptop drive, and they are a bit more shock resistant than normal full-size drives.

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