The most boring part of my business. The back up. The back up. The back up.

Just mixing it up. Garrido's Restaurant.

A measured response. Garrido's Restaurant.

I used to back up in two different ways. I would write the files from a job to a DVD or multiple DVDs. When files were smaller I would burn two sets of DVDs as a back up. One from a particular manufacturer's brand of DVDs and one from an alternate brand, just to make sure someone at the factory wasn't having a bad day that might make my life miserable down the road. After burning the DVDs I'd make a back up onto two different external hard drives. It was a miserable use of time but you could always write a blog or a novel while you were waiting to feed the DVD burner....

But then there came a day when, because of the increase in raw file sizes, every job was requiring four or five DVDs and by the time you made a back up set you'd spent some real quality time sitting in the office trying to future proof work for a client. And many times (most times?) the advertising work has a more limited life than the DVDs or the hard drives themselves. The sheer volume of work in a good year means going through some respectable number of terabytes to get all the original and finished files from every video and still photography projects safely tucked away.

When fast 7200 rpm drives became more $$ available I started using them in the video editing cycle and in the image or edit processing cycle of a job and then writing everything out to additional, large but slower hard drives for back up.

I noticed on my last trip to my local Costco that 4 terabyte drives could be had, on sale, for $114. These are Seagate USB 3 drives in nondescript enclosures and they work with Macs and PCs. I bought some. Now I am in the process of making a third point of back up for the work I've done in the last quarter. I am transferring 842.95 gigabytes of job files from one of the previous 3TB drives. The files will also remain on that drive and the original drive on which they were ingested and edited.  Of course the back-up is automatic at this point but it still boggles the mind that it will take three hours to complete the task. I have to admit that it's a heck of a lot faster than the original USB1 ports I started out with. After SCSI that is...

I tend to buy the hard drives in pairs and now that we're under the $150 mark for a 4TB the transactions are not as painful. I would council everyone who uses a method like this for backing up to get a slap of white tape and write the drive "name" and date of beginning and end of service (taken off system because it is full) and put it on the drive. I also recommend making a list of all the files on the drive and putting it in a notebook for quick reference should you need to find a precious file in a moment of desperation.

I liked making DVDs much better. While it took longer it's been exceedingly rare for me to have a CD or a DVD go "stupid" on me. I recently pulled some Kodak Gold CDs from 1999 of work I'd done in Madrid for Tivoli Systems and all the disks worked well. No corrupted files. But I do like the speed and ease of the HD back-ups. I just hope they are making them more and more reliable. But, unlike the film days I find myself not caring that much about older, client work files. We've instituted a policy of telling all clients in writing that when we hand them files the storage and maintenance of the files (including future migrations) is their sole responsibility. I make every effort to keep my hands on the work and the work on a working set of disks but no one can guard entirely from multiple, coincidental failures. And I might drop over dead just when they need their files the most. I will not delay my departure just to do more client tasks. :-) (Not planning on leaving any time soon).

I listened to Vincent Laforet talk to a group of our students a few years ago he dived into incredible detail about his back up strategy which calls for storing all files in RAID arrays in closet sized enclosures as well as making multiple tape back ups of everything. At the time he was estimating that his cost just to cool all the drives and the servers related to the drives was about $800 per month. Added to that one of his office assistants was constantly in the process of migrating terabytes of information from older drives to newer drives. It was stunning to listen to him and calculate the total monthly outlay he blew through just on back ups.

I've outlined my current back-up strategy above. I know some of you have far more technical knowledge about storage than I do. If you have any suggestions that might benefit all of the readers don't hesitate to chime in. If it's cost effective and better we're ready to change.

In the meantime I looked around Amazon to see what kind of deals I could find on external HDs. I limited my search to USB3's and Thunderbolts. Now might be the right time to add another layer to the back-up strategy or at least its redundancy.

This is the model I just picked up. You might be able to get a slightly better price at Costco but if you hate braving the crowds and already have an Amazon Prime membership AND you want to support my work here at the site this is not a bad price.....

And while you are waiting around for your back ups to happen it might be nice to have something exciting and photography oriented in your hands to read. Here's nice novel with a photographer as the protagonist. He's also a Leica aficionado. The Kindle version is on sale from $3.99 for the rest of this year. If you prefer to get your intrigue and adrenaline on paper we've got that too....