easy way to burn a bunch of backup cd's?
December 2, 2008 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I fear my backup hard drive is failing. I really don't want to lose a bunch of pictures.

I've got about 15 gigs on the external drive, and while I'm at it figured I should also back up the 3 or so gigs worth of pics on the internal one. My only option at this point is to burn a bunch of CD's. (Too broke to buy another drive, no DVD burner). Some files are in giant folders (iphoto libraries, etc.) that won't fit on a single disk. Is there a way to simplify/quicken the process of burning the 20-something disks I'll need? I'd rather not have to go in and pull sub-folders to fit each one. I've got an intel based mac mini running OS X 10.4.11. I'm not afraid of the command line if I have clear instructions. Thanks!
posted by generalist to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you really want to burn all the data to CDs, it would be helpful to first compress the data so that it's in chunks approximately equal in size to your discs (about 700mb?). I don't know of a program that'll just start burning until disc capacity is reached, eject disc #1, then ask for disc #2, and continue. Hopefully someone else here does.

How about you compress them down into .rar/.zip/.gzip/whatever around 1GB in size, and then upload them to online storage while you source out a new drive?

I use Amazon's S3 service, which will cost you $3.75 to transfer and store the files for a month. Your next month will cost $2.25 if you don't transfer any data, just store it.

I like Jungle Disk for this sort of thing, but I think there are other options available as well.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2008

Oh and if you go the route of Jungle Disk, you don't have to compress first. You can just point it to the directory that you want to backup and it'll handle everything while running in the background.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:37 PM on December 2, 2008

Get all the files you want to burn together in one place.

Use WinRAR to archive (not compress, that would take days) them into 640mb chunks.

Burn the resulting chunks on to seperate CDs.
posted by wfrgms at 12:38 PM on December 2, 2008

Perhaps you could quickly sort your iPhoto pictures into smaller folders? I tend to keep my photos in folders by date, but that's because I dislike the photo library software I've found so far. It might be a good idea to have your photos on CD anyway, if you fear future failures of this sort at all.

As for other splitting options - I'd advise against split-compressing your large volumes. If the CDs get damaged, you'll lose more than if you just had a bunch of images. And compression won't save much space, assuming those are all JPGs or another compressed format.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2008

You might find this question useful too.
posted by Solomon at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2008

I have a flickr account. I use it to both showcase and backup material.
posted by scarello at 1:42 PM on December 2, 2008

Seconding wfrgms and winrar.
And after you have rar'ed them up, generate parity files, and write them out to the cds too. That way if there is any corruption in the cd, you may be able to recover (depending on the redundancy level specified when creating the parity files).
posted by Arthur Dent at 3:25 PM on December 2, 2008

Also: if you fear data loss from the external drives, then it is in no way a backup drive.

Digital information doesn't really exist until there are at least two copies of it.

Are you absolutely sure you're too broke to buy another external hard drive? NewEgg will sell you 80GB for $35, or 250GB for $50 with free shipping.
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

flabdablet is absolutely correct. "backup" means just that- it's a second copy that backs up the original copy.

Also, do the math on how much it would cost to burn all that stuff to 30 CDs versus buying a $23 dvd burner and burning it to 5 dvds. Last time I was in Best Buy, CDs seemed more expensive than DVD media.
posted by gjc at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2008

Is $30 more than you can spend?

From your turtle question, it seems like you're in Chicago. If that's right, hit up craigslist and get a used laptop drive and a used 2.5" enclosure.

If that's too much, see if your friends have any unused drives that are big enough that they don't mind giving you. I'm swimming in the damn things; somebody you know has to have one they can spare. Then get a cheap enclosure. I suspect it'll pay for itself in saving you the time and hassle cds would represent. It's a spare tire, and it should last you until you can limp your way into buying something new and shiny and affordable, a la flabdablet, that you trust more thoroughly.

If you're dead set on using cds, and can bear parting with your files for awhile, you could try to use a disk imaging utility or backup software that will let you distribute the backup files over multiple cds. The free Carbon Copy Cloner or some built-in utility, maybe? Actually, even if you can't bear parting with your files for awhile, you should do this anyway, in addition to whatever other method you use to keep the files accessible should the drive die.

It's probably not what you had in mind, I know, but it will give you a backup and be a lot easier than trying to burn the cds in a way where you can still access the files as you please. Hell, maybe you will be able to do that. Anyway, letting the software figure out how to fit things on the cds is going to be easier than trying to do it yourself.
posted by averyoldworld at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2008

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