Author Topic: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision  (Read 7345 times)

burly

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Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« on: January 19, 2013, 07:49:04 AM »
I am a avid photographer, not a professional, but it was a hobby of mine I picked up in college and I am often toting around my DSLR every trip or adventure. In addition, my wife is due in about 2 weeks with our first child and the in-laws bought us a digital video camera for christmas! So I am expecting to have even more photos & videos in the next 10 years.

About a year ago, I had a hard drive fail and I lost 1000's of pictures of a year I spent in Europe... needless to say I was devastated. I was saved only by the fact that I burned a DVD with all the pictures (jpg not raw format) for my college roommate back in the day.  With today's world being ALL digital, I pitched to my wife, what would we do if we lost all the photos/videos of baby Natalie?

Here's our set up:
Me: MacBook Air (pre mustashian purchase, but it's paid itself 5x with freelance)
Wife: Old Sony Viao from her Grad School Days

We each have a 250gb external HD of which mine is 45% full of photos.

After reading it seems that the way to accomplish this is with a RAID device, and set to Raid 1, so any data copied is then backed up on a second drive, thus creating a redundancy.

I've been looking at the WD Duo and Lacie 2big Raid setup that both are about $500.00. I will be cashing out my credit card points and will have ~$200 in amazon gift cards, but I want to know what other Mustaschians do for these type of back ups?

I'm sure it's a common problem since everything is digital today.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 07:50:56 AM by nathanc »

Jimbo

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 08:38:24 AM »
A back-up server seems the way to go, but I would be curious about the mustachian way to do it.

Interested, but not much useful stuff i can say...

zug

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 09:03:04 AM »
This is a very hard problem. No solution can guarantee you won't lose your data, at best you can be 99.x% sure, but most of those 99% solutions cost a lot of money.

Google's policy is to forget RAID and just have each piece of data in 3 locations. My experience with RAID is that it isn't as great as it sounds - the hard drives inside a RAID array are often manufactured at the same time and are located in the same physical enclosure. It turns out that drives in the same machine and/or drives from the same manufacturing run tend to die at similar times, which means that the chances of them failing at the same time are much higher than two random drives by different manufactures.

I think the best mustachian compromise would be buying two different external hard drives from different manufactures (this gives you different enclosures and different hard drive manufacturers) and then using Mac and Windows backup programs to schedule regular backups. Having automatic sync to online providers would be much easier, but much more expensive.

KingCoin

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 10:45:32 AM »
I generally do a quadruple backup.
1) On the local hard drive
2) On an external harddrive (you can pickup 3TB for ~$110 these days, or a more portable 1TB pocket drive for ~$80)
3) Burn the photo set to a labeled DVD (e.g. Thailand 2012)
4) I flag the best photos on Adobe Bridge and upload them to Dropbox

None of these methods are fool-proof, but each is fairly inexpensive and, taken together, it's very unlikely you'll lose your data. You might want to keep a set of DVD's or an extra HD off site to add additional protection against things like major theft or fire. I also upload many of my best photos to Facebook which, while reduced quality, is yet another free backup.

sulaco

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2013, 11:26:15 AM »
We have a few types of backups we regularly do (though in general, I think simpler is better)

  • TimeMachine backups to a server in the house
  • Occasional TM backups to a FireWire/USB drive
  • Carbon Copy Cloner/Super Duper! Backups to a different portion on the same drive (monthly or quarterly)

All of our shared documents are stored on a file server in our house which does nightly backups to a separate internal disk (using dirvish).

The missing element in my opinion is remote backups. For a while I had a computer running at my in-laws that I would back up to as well (10-2,500 miles away depending on the phase of our life), but their Internet connection was reasonably unreliable, and we're in a different part of the country now, so I've stopped pursuing that solution.

I don't use RAID, but all backups and shared files are stored on ZFS volumes, which provides additional comfort that files aren't being silently corrupted after years of storage and any number of disks.

I don't know the backup situation in Windows, but I have successfully used dirvish to maintain backups of windows computers, but its a bit involved.

sulaco

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 11:35:58 AM »
I forgot to mention my philosophy -

  • The most important backup you can do is the set it and forget style backup - out of your mind, no manual steps required.
  • the next most important backup is a historical backup, so if you don't notice the issue right away, you can go back days, weeks or months to recover lost files.
  • the last one is geographical redundancy. For most home use, I think rotating a HD at work or a safety deposit box is adequate. If losing your data has more impact than a typical person, automated redundancy should be used (something like tarsnap), but it won't be cheap

ketchup

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 12:46:16 PM »
I have a dedicated file server (using old computer parts and unRaid) for backups of all my data, including terabytes of HD video from my expensive filmmaking hobby.  All the gigantic video files are also backed up on my friend's computer that does all this with me.  My girlfriend is a photographer, with hundreds of gigabytes worth of past shoots. She uses Backblaze ($4 a month online unlimited backup service) to back up her laptop.

A lot of ways to do this, also I do think the key is geographic redundancy. My girlfriend and I both accomplish this in different ways.

Jamesqf

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 01:35:55 PM »
With today's world being ALL digital, I pitched to my wife, what would we do if we lost all the photos/videos of baby Natalie?

Err... Go on living?  I mean, exactly how important are baby pictures in the great scheme of things?

Now backing up the computer code I develop is another matter.  It's duplicated on a couple of machines, and I also keep it and other important stuff backed up to the SD card in my phone. 

jdisc

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 02:43:09 PM »
We save the photos on two hard drives but understand that those could go at any time so we make it a policy to print the ones that are really special. We have photo albums on the shelf (next to the hard drives) that have prints of the .1% of the photos that we take that are truly worth keeping. In my mind the largest benefit of digital photography is that you can take a bazillion pictures for basically free instead of paying for film and developing of crappy shots. The ones I will want to look at with my grandkids are prints. I enjoy the act of sitting on the couch and looking at old photos without needing a digital device in my hand.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 02:48:38 PM by jdisc »

grantmeaname

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 05:12:51 PM »
RAID is good for storage uptime if you need to not be temporarily knocked out by a drive failing. But RAID is not backup.

What about buying two terabyte external drives, and every month updating the copy stored on one backup and then unplugging it and moving it to another room (or better still, a friend's house)?

TN_Steve

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2013, 06:35:35 PM »
Another way to look at it.

Problem with RAID and external hard drive is that your "stuff" is all in the same residence.  As alluded to by grantmeaname, certain catastrophes will take them all out.

I'd look at cloud storage.  For my wife's D7000, we start with google Drive (free to 5 gigs), amazon (also free for 5 gigs) and Drop Box (2 free gigs, plus another 3 if you do auto camera upload).   In addition, you can attach to self-directed emails and store with GMail, which is separate 10 Gig storage limit.   Between you and your wife, you can double all of the foregoing and still be within the free zone. 

Nonetheless, With serious user of DSLR, you'll end up buying space, which will net out more than the local externals, but we think it is worth it, given the offsite storage.

 I also use Mozy to back up all of my data offsite, which could be used for pictures as well (pay for service, but not terrible).  The other advantage of Mozy (or carbonite, among others) is that it provides automatic backup a couple times a day--which eliminates the need to think about doing anything, or having the volition to take externals off-site.

Steve (older, and no longer as mustachian as many posters, so take it with all necessary grains of salt)


burly

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2013, 12:30:00 AM »
With today's world being ALL digital, I pitched to my wife, what would we do if we lost all the photos/videos of baby Natalie?

Err... Go on living?  I mean, exactly how important are baby pictures in the great scheme of things?

Now backing up the computer code I develop is another matter.  It's duplicated on a couple of machines, and I also keep it and other important stuff backed up to the SD card in my phone.

I'm assuming you don't have kids. Of course we'd still 'go on living', but I believe holding on to those precious moments via photo and video are much more important than any thing I create with my hands... Needless to say, I would not want to experience my wife loosing those things.

There are a ton of good ideas here, thank you everyone. I am trying out a trial for backblaze.com and mozy. $5/mo for unlimited back up sounds fantastic. Especially when added with a 1-3 terabyte external HD, and I may go a step further and use my current external for just photos or time machine and keep it at my office.

This would 1. have a backup outside of my geographic location and 2 provide redundancies.

Daley

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2013, 09:28:26 AM »
Secure offsite datacenter backups are not a cheap thing, but they're also the only form of backup that you can use that will ensure data integrity during a catastrophic event at the primary computer location... so if it's data you really really care about and there's a lot of it, you're kind of pinned in a corner on options.

I've noticed a couple people have mentioned Mozy. They might be better than Carbonite (doesn't take much), but I'm still not a fan of Mozy for an assortment of reasons: price, options, security methodology...

If you're going to pay someone huge wads of money to do secure offsite data backups, use an option that can potentially work with products like a Synology NAS with a little effort, is the only major backup solution that supports Mac, Windows, Linux and Solaris (making homebrew NAS solutions easily supported), has a cheapskate free user option for backing up between friends, offers end-to-end Blowfish encryption and provides you an option to not let them manage the keys, provides physical hard drive back-up and restoration shipping options for larger data archive sets, is trusted by some of the largest names in IT, industry and commerce, banking, higher education, and scientific research centers, has a strong privacy policy with SAS 70 compliance, and does it all at competitive prices. That option is CrashPlan.

I've seen, encountered and used a lot of off-site backup storage options with various clients over the years, and the consequences of failure, complexity and security for these folks. For the past couple years, the only pay-to-use outfit I feel comfortable recommending anymore is CrashPlan. I personally don't use anything more than an in-house NAS for the "rather not lose", Dropbox for the "non-secure can't afford to lose for clients", and SpiderOak for the "can't afford to lose and need to keep secure", and as such, I don't spend a single dime on archival outside of the initial hardware investment and the electricity to run the NAS. That said, beyond just clients, I have personally dog-fooded CrashPlan's free service for a few months and quite liked it for what it was. If I was put in a situation that required paying for data backups though, I'd definitely use it without a second thought... and I don't just say that because I'm a desktop Linux user.

Take the info for what it's worth.

James

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2013, 10:11:42 AM »
I have three backups.  Primary is on computer.  Backup one is an external hard drive.  Backup two is an external hard drive at work.  Backup three is simply uploading all the best photos to Flickr, which is also a good place for sharing them with family and friends.


Raid simply isn't very practical for most people, and it's an added complication and expense that only protects from one possible reason for data loss.  I think three backups is best, one local, one at a different location, and one that is historical so old files can't be deleted.  How you accomplish this is very flexible.

Jamesqf

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2013, 10:26:38 AM »
I'm assuming you don't have kids. Of course we'd still 'go on living', but I believe holding on to those precious moments via photo and video are much more important than any thing I create with my hands... Needless to say, I would not want to experience my wife loosing those things.

I suppose it's a basic difference in philosophy of life.  I mean, I've GOT all those precious moments.  They're in my head, and nothing short of Alzheimer's is going to remove them.  It's like when we had the big fire come through a while back, and I had about a half hour to evacuate.  I grabbed the dogs, the laptop, checked on the neighbors, and I was gone.  The rest of it was just stuff, and insured at that.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2013, 03:13:26 PM »
I use Backblaze. Started using it the day after my neighbor's computer was stolen and all pictures lost forever.

I've used it for about four years, it runs seamlessly, and the one time my hard drive crashed, I was able to get a backup CD sent to me right way.

If I was a huge photographer, I'd probably do that plus an external hard-drive, or two, alternated, one kept in the house and one elsewhere.

Ozstache

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2013, 03:35:19 PM »
Firstly, economise on what photos you keep. People often take hundreds of photos of an event/thing yet there are very few that are truly keepers, regardless of how good a photographer you are (or think you are!)

Secondly, with your new found keeper set, store them in a cloud, like google drive or drop box. Even if you end up paying for extra space, it is still more reliable and likely cheaper than a fancy hard drive setup.

Honest Abe

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2013, 05:10:50 PM »
Crashplan allows you to backup (encrypted) onto another person's computer for free (i think it's free)

Daley

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Re: Frugal, yet smart, Back Up Decision
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2013, 05:20:52 PM »
Crashplan allows you to backup (encrypted) onto another person's computer for free (i think it's free)

It's only 128bit blowfish encrypted, but yes, it is free. One of the many reasons I mentioned them.