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Photography Question 
Michael A. Dreese

How to Store Images on CD

After years of shooting film I have begun to shoot some of images with a digital camera. I recently purchased Photoshop Album, and I love its organizational features. I am a bit confused over the best method to back them up on CD or CDRW. As an old floppy guy, I like the ability to add new files whenever I desire. There appears to be no way to do this with any CD format. You have one shot or must erase everything and copy the old files over again on CDRW. Am I missing something?

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9/11/2004 2:52:23 PM

Dee E. Strellner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2004
  I ended up using external drives and zip disk to solve this problem. We also installed removable drives in all three computers, so that exchanging material from one computer to the other is a snap.

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9/12/2004 11:40:25 AM

Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/18/2004
  An external hard drive is a good option, as are CDs or DVDs. However, CD-RWs don't last nearly as long as CDs, so I wouldn't use those. I feel like I've heard that zip disks don't last that long either, especially since they have moving parts. I'm looking into getting a large external hard drive myself.

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9/12/2004 12:26:40 PM

Michael A. Dreese   Dee and Nancy:

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. I will explore all of the options you suggested.

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9/12/2004 3:03:40 PM

dipesh    An external big hard disk is a great option ... but it is a scary one. Just in case it fails or breaks down, you are in for a big-time loss. I had one break down - my 40 gb external drive - and nothing was recovered.

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9/14/2004 3:36:40 AM

Brian Kreutzer   My wife and I take literally thousands of pics with our digital camera, and I store them all on a CD. We use a program called "nero" for burning them to a CD and are able to add pics to a CD until it is full. Hope this helps.

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9/14/2004 4:45:36 AM

Melanie Harris   I have tried various methods of saving and backing up. I have found that if you buy CDs in bulk, they are a little less expensive. With a regular CD, you won't lose photo quality like you will with the CD-RWs. The same thing applies with Zips. They tend to reduce quality as well, because they have moving parts and because they are added to over and over again.

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9/14/2004 6:40:00 AM

Michael Delehanaty   As has been mentioned, burning to CD-R allows for the addition of more files. The setting you need to find is burn the disk and "leave it open". Usually it's a check box choice. Some programs have it in the advanced section. The best part of CDRs is that the image cannot be erased by accident. Once the disk is full, I close it and then make a back-up of the full disk and store someplace else.

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9/14/2004 8:43:23 AM

dipesh    DVD is the best option.

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9/14/2004 9:00:45 AM

James P. Albert   Michael,
I have done extensive research on the whole CD, DVD, R versus RW, etc., for work. The bottom line is that the RW version of DVD and CDs don't have the shelf life of the Write-once versions. Typically RWs have a life of about 20-30 years when stored correctly, while the R's have a shelf life of about 35-50 years. Once again if stored properly. The Write-once versions do offer the extra security of the fact that you can't accidentally erase the material. I would have to agree that DVD is probably the best format to use considering current technologies. And let's face it, there will probably be some new format to store our data by the time the DVDs have deteriorated to the point of not being able to retrieve the data. So data migration will be necessary regardless.

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9/14/2004 2:15:22 PM

Michael A. Dreese   Thanks to everyone for the responses. I had no clue there were so many options. I have a program called Sonic Now, a CD/DVD burning program. I did see a setting in the advanced section that allows you to keep adding new files.
Someone told me this evening that you can only add new data to CD-RWs. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and with the technology evolving so rapidly this is not surprising.
My major goal at this point is to follow a manageable work flow, so that I can spend more time outdoors and less time on my computer.

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9/14/2004 5:29:19 PM

Michael Kaplan   Hi Michael,
As the others have said, R is better than RW as far as reliability and longevity, but that does not stop you from using it as temporary storage until you get enough pictures to fill a CD or DVD. You can save them to the -RW and when the disk is full, copy them to a -R. DVD is certainly becoming the standard but if you use a smaller PnS camera which shoots JPG files, you can still get so many pictures on a CD that the extra volume of the DVD may be unnecessary. I now shoot with a 8MP DSLR in RAW, which has about a 8MB file size. I then save as TIF in either 8bit or 16bit mode, which gives me a 24MB or 48MB file. I then edit and save again as PSD, TIF or JPG. With these file sizes; DVD is the only way to go.

Even if you decided to go with a larger HD (internal or external), I would still back them up to CD/DVD. If the HD crashes, you have either lost all of your pictures or have to pay thousands of dollars to have the data removed from the good parts of the drive platters. It may also help to get a good program to keep track of your photos and where they are. I use a program called iMatch, which makes finding your pictures easy. But there are many others like ACDSee or Photoshop Album.
Michael Kaplan
Canon EOS-20D

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9/18/2004 5:14:48 AM

Gail Cimino   Some CD-burning programs include a function called "Direct-CD" which allows you to format a CD-RW so that it can be used just like floppy disks or zips. It usually takes about 20-25 to format the disk initially, then you can access it through Windows Explorer (or "My Computer" if that's how you get to your files) and copy, move, or delete individual files to the CD-RW just like you would any other drive or folder.

As others have pointed out, this may not be the best solution for long-term backup. But it makes it so much easier to frequent, fast backups. Every time I upload pics from the camera I quickly copy them to a Direct-CD. Later I'll back up the converted and retouched TIF files to CD-R. Same with larger photo or design projects, I'll copy to a Direct-CD every day until it's final and ready for "formal" backup. It's a good way to carry files between office and home, or to bring pictures to relatives, because you can keep using the CD over again.

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9/22/2004 11:32:22 AM

Michael Kaplan   Yes, CD-RW is a convienient way to backup files but DO NOT use it as your only method of backup. If you leave them on your hard drive and use the CD-RW to have a temporary backup, then fine but do not erase them from your hard drive and have only the CD-RW as your backup. They are not reliable enough and you may lose all your photos. If you really want to do backup to a re-writable media then choose DVD-RAM. That is the best media for rewriting and storage. There are very few drives that can write to DVD-RAM. LG is the only drive manufacturer that makes a computer drive that can write and some have the ability to read only like the pioneer DVR-108.

It is worth the low cost involved to use either CD-R or DVD±R and do a verify once the disk is written
Michael Kaplan
Canon EOS-20D

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9/22/2004 1:28:52 PM

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