Storage Devices and Back Up For Your Digital Files and Photos
Long term photo storage devices and file archiving in general is becoming an issue for many photographers and videographers these days. With most consumer CD’s and DVD’s having a scarily short shelf life, we need to re-think how we back up our precious files.
Film archiving was great as negatives, if looked after well enough, lasted a lifetime and longer. Digital media is somewhat different. As camera sensors and High Definition video files become larger, the need for more and more space is greater than ever. I remember when I bought my first PC in 1999; the guy that built it for me said I should never need more than 20GB for my internal hard drive…Fool!
As I mentioned before, standard CD’s and DVD’s have a shelf life mainly determined by the coating and handling of the discs. The materials used in them can decay over time and render them unreadable, as can minor scratches as often proved by the handling skills of my two young children we are on our third copy of the “Cars” movie!
So on to hard disks. Altogether a much safer set of long term photo storage devices but these still have their weaknesses. Technology changes fast and even though USB 2.0/3.0 and future compatible readers/cables etc are set to be around for a while, who knows what is around the corner?
I think (as at 2016) we are not far away from solid state hard drives taking over completely…solid, no moving parts and silent!
My other concern is that standard hard drives also have a shelf life determined by the amount of use they receive and the way they are handled and stored.
Hard disks are high precision instruments spinning at high speeds. They can be susceptible to magnetic failure due to power surges, shock from knocking or dropping them or simply having the file structure become corrupt for no apparent reason, all of which means the possibility of losing all your data.
Coupled with future obsolescence in playback and retrieval technologies, this can be quite worrying for anyone needing a long term storage solution (i.e. Wedding Photography files).
Long Term Photo Storage Devices – So what is the solution
For me, multiple back ups using a cross section of media and continually (one every 2-3 years maybe) migrating your files to newer technology and long term photo storage devices whilst keeping the outdated ones (in a lead safe somewhere underground far away from anything dangerous) for nostalgia as a “last resort” for long term storage!
With digital “space” becoming so cheap now, there is no reason why you cannot afford to back up your precious files in multiple ways with quality long term photo storage devices.
Time consuming maybe, but the peace of mind is worth it!
One thing that worries me is the huge hard disk drives (HDD) of multiple Terabyte capacity. Why? Well, think about this. The larger the HDD, the more it will hold. The more it can hold, the more you are likely to want to access that information. The more you access that information, the more likely the physical disk is to become corrupt due to overuse. Make sense?
I may be wrong but I can say with some certainly that two of my hard drives (one full to the brim and another half full) are starting to whirr more and struggle under the “weight” of the files inside!
One solution I have personally come up with for wedding files is to buy a separate, single hard drive for each wedding. So, say you shoot 1,200 photos at a wedding with each being 18mb in size, which equals around 21gb. Then each RAW file has to be edited and converted to a JPEG which could (for arguments sake) double that capacity required to 42gb.
Then you need to play with some images, make montages of several hundred megabytes, create some layered .PSD files and possibly make up a wedding photo book or digital album…another few hundred megabytes. Plus you may throw in a slideshow or two and render it to any number of media formats (.avi, mpeg, .mov etc).
So, to be safe, a well made 80GB hard drive should more than suffice if you are using a 12mp camera or less and you can pick these up from somewhere like Amazon for “peanuts” when you compare what the files are worth and what you are probably being paid by the customer, especially for someone’s wedding.
The obvious benefit of this is that you only need to access the files a few times over a short period of time and once the wedding is done and dusted, you can file that HDD away and therefore not wear it out too much…just a thought!
Long Term Photo Storage Devices – Data Recovery
What if something should go wrong?
Well, unfortunately, if it is a DVD or CD, you may be in trouble as it can be very hard to retrieve data from a corrupt disk. These are so cheap you may as well make 2 or 3 copies at the time of storing to be safe, and the better makes are generally, well, better!
For any type of media card, even if it has been formatted, you can recover those files. I once had a corrupt CF card with about 50 missing wedding photos and managed to get them all back.
Try Photo Saver Software who offer a 100% money back guarantee if you cannot get your files back. This is a great resource to have even if you haven’t messed up a card yet. Cheap and handy to have around “just in case”!
Long Term Photo Storage Devices – For hard disk drives
There is hope as these are easier to recover data from one way or another and there are professional companies that can help. Try these guys below, they have software for just about any type of hard disk recovery that you may need.
So, my advice would be to back up everything and then back that up! Media is cheap and getting cheaper and the value of your files (monetary or personal) is infinitely greater so don’t skimp on this part of your workflow!
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