Best way to back up photos and other media assets
November 16, 2011 6:03 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to establish a good backup strategy for my digital media assets (photos, music, and some home videos) and documents. Would love to hear from you on on whether this makes sense ...

Here is what we have:

We have our 2011 photos, digital music and other sundry documents in an iMac. Photos (in JPEG) and other documents from the last few years are in a Dell laptop that we have stopped using (this is backed up in a Windows formatted external hard drive). These are under 50 GB. Photos older than a few years are in a carton in films, slides and negatives.

I have started shooting photos with a certain amount of intensity again this year (after several years). I probably add between 100 to 150 RAW images every week to the iMAC (unless I am travelling when that number really shoots up). From what I am reading, I think I should assume a few hundred gigs of space for my digital photos every year (going forward). I am getting Adobe Lightroom (this will replace iPhoto) and hope to use it as my primary photo cataloging software. I currently have a 1 TB hard disk in the iMac and I bought a Western Digital external drive that has 1.5 TB storage.

Here is what I think I should do:

-- Set up Time machine to backup everything other than photos into the 1.5 TB external drive
- Use Lightroom to set up the same external hard drive as the primary storage for Photos
- Use the 120 GB external drive for backing up the photos for now (using Lightroom for backup of photos) for now. Migrate to a bigger external storage later on in 2012 (when needed)
- My mediam term project will be to digitize the non-digital photo, tag them as best I can and move them to the same Light room library and backup

Does this approach make sense? Is there a better /simpler way of accomplishing this (without incurring considerably higher cost)?

Would love to have your thoughts, recommendations or any other suggestions in this area.
posted by justlooking to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Too much info! Sorry.

Divide your stuff into three categories: 1. Stuff you couldn't live without, 2. Stuff that's replaceable, but you'd rather not lose, 3. Everything else.

You need a backup locally at home for speed and cost: it's relatively cheap to have a big hard disk/nas, if you delete something you can restore it quickly, the speed of that restore will be very fast. Ensure this backup is automated. Test it works.

If you get burgled or have a fire, then you're in trouble. So here's where you decide how much money you want to spend. You have two options: 1. Backup to the internet (JungleDisk, mozy and friends), 2. Get a second hard disk at a friends house somewhere far away. You might rotate this disk with your local one every few weeks.
You can also choose both options. Remember that the first option will be more expensive, but it's automated so it will actually happen. The second is cheaper but the backups won't be fresh. Speed of recovery might also be a factor: restoring from the internet will be slower. Use the categories you assigned to your data earlier to decide where to put your stuff.
posted by devnull at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I back up all that sort of stuff to Amazon S3. It costs be about $7 a month for about 60GB of photos and MP3s.
posted by COD at 7:46 AM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for your responses!
And in retrospect Devnull, you are right about too much information :(. I probably could have skipped everything outside of the last paragraph there ...
posted by justlooking at 9:01 AM on November 16, 2011

Best answer: Your setup seems complicated, though workable.

My feeling is that storage space is, when compared to time spent, is essentially free any more. Even at 150 raws a week at, say, 15 megs each, a 2 TB drive will take you 17 years to fill. Spending even an hour of your time a week worrying about culls or having to deal with multiple catalogs just isn't worth it (to me).

So I say 1. store them all locally. 2. Time Machine everything (the whole computer) onto a single big drive. 3. Use an automated system to do an off-site backup (automated because if have to remember to do it, you'll forget the one time it is critical). Backblaze, Dropbox,, etc., or your own hand-rolled system. If you don't want that recurring cost, buy a couple spare drives and make a deal with a friend: once a week you meet them for lunch and swap drives.

For most peoples' picture collection, one cannot overstate the requirement to recover from a site loss: fire, flood, burglary, lightning strike, etc.
posted by introp at 9:02 AM on November 16, 2011

Response by poster: Introp:
i think you are right. I had mental block against going though the process of extending had disk - but it should really be fairly simple and inexpensive at this time.

Backing up everything through Time Machine and having the second backup on the cloud is a much better idea (I suspect I wont always have the discipline to rotate the other disk regularly - if I were to choose to use the other option that Devnull suggested)

Thanks everybody!
posted by justlooking at 1:01 PM on November 16, 2011

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