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Photography Question 
Michael Warnock
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/3/2005

Backing Up Digital Files

Hello all, I am looking to establish a system to back up my digital negatives on my notebook and have so far been considering two options ... the first being an external DVD writer to burn the files to disk ... and the second being an external hard drive as backup. What is your opinion and/or experience in this area? I'm not sure what to do. Thanks.

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7/16/2005 10:05:55 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  If you're just going to back up your photos, then I would go with the DVD writer, because with the hard drive, if you run out of space, you're just out of luck. With a burner, you can just buy more DVDs.

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7/16/2005 10:17:19 PM

Kari Høglund
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/5/2005
  It is a good idea to make two copies of each DVD. Keep one copy at home, and one copy outside your home in case of fire.

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7/17/2005 7:52:32 AM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  Kari, another option - instead of keeping one somewhere else - is to put it in a fireproof safe. Just make sure it's a good one.

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7/17/2005 8:36:35 AM

Kam  Yau   Try this one

It can even transfer photos(jpg or "raw") directly from Digital camera without a PC. This is a portable device. You can bring it along during business trip or vacation.

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7/18/2005 9:50:31 PM

Bob Fately   There are pros and cons to each choice, Mike. Basically, hard drive backup is more instantly accessable, and with drive costs dropping weekly you could conceivably purchase a new Firewire or USB2 drive when you run low on space. You can also set up some kind of auto-backup in your system to ensure that copies of new files ("negatives") are made daily or whatever.

On the other hand, backups to DVD allow you, as others have noted, to take a second set to a different location. There are some questions about the true longevity of home-burned CDs and DVDs, however, so I'd recommend that you use the products from Mitsui, which use different materials and are rated with far longer lifespans than the tradtional brands. And definitely put that second set someplace else - your bank vault, your office, your Anut Tilley's house - just in case disaster strikes.

Ideally, you could do both - have a ginormous hard drive attached to your PC for on-line storage, and make it a habit to burn DVDs as needed to store in a second location.


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7/19/2005 8:29:09 AM

Wayne L   I backup on a second HD in the computer
" in case of a C drive crash" then a third
USB external HD that I store in an old post office fireproof safe in another building. The USB external is a 120 GB and
it has close to apox. 9,000 photos and 13
GB's used. I should have a while to go before I have to replace them.

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7/19/2005 8:52:19 AM

Terry  R. Hatfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2003
  I Back Up To A Usb Harddrive They Are Stackable So You Just Add another When The Time Comes!!

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7/19/2005 9:19:24 AM


Actually, there is no such thing as a "fireproof safe." It might keep the fire out, but not the heat. Call any arson inspector about it. A buddy of mine's house burnt to the ground in March of 2004. He had a big fireproof safe with his guns in it. After things cooled, the firemen used the jaws of life to open the safe. All of the wood stocks were burnt and the barrels were warped. The arson inspector said that the temp rises so high in the safe, that everything melts, and becaused of some oxygen in the safe, there will be a fire. The temp reaches flash point and whatever is in there will burn. A small fire outside the safe will not hurt what is in the safe. If it's a very big fire at all, the tempurature will rise to incredible degrees and will surely melt or burn any DVD, or anything else that might be in ANY safe.

Put it in a safety deposit box. It's a lot cheaper than a "fireproof safe." And a lot more protective. Why chance it?


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7/19/2005 10:21:51 AM

Wayne L   I know just what you're saying Jack. Not all "fireproof safes" are created equal. Gun safes are to keep thieves out, if they do burn in a fire a home owners policy should replace them however those pictures can't be replaced. Those with more steel may be harder for a thief to get in but they transfer heat far more than concrete and steel.
And those with steel outside then insulation then concrete are quite fireproof in about any normal fire. And keep in mind that that's better than laying on a shelf beside one.

Wayne L

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7/20/2005 5:06:10 PM

Tiffany L. Cochran
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/27/2004
  The system I use is:
1. Download the file to my external hard drive (Maxtor's One-touch is good). I shoot in RAW, so this is only temporary because of the large fiel sizes.
2. Back up the RAW files to 2 disks... one for the office and easy access and the other for off-site storage (such as a safety deposit box). I do this step now in the event of a technical problem between now and the time I make the final saves.
3. Once I am finished working with the files on my hard drive, I update the disks with the new files and store them.
4. To save space, I delete the RAW files from my external hard drive (NOTE: before doing this, verify the files are properly burned to both disks, preferably through a second computer. After all, since when has technology been reliable?).

This system takes time, but you know your files are backed up and the backups are good.

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7/23/2005 8:57:04 AM

Jack E. Bennett   Hi Wayne,

True, when you buy a gun safe, you are mainly buying something to keep the theives out. But, when you buy a "Fireproof" Gun safe, it is to protect an expensive collection from a fire as well. And if there's a fire, it will destroy any guns in any fireproof safe, as it did my buddy's collection in March of 2004.

As I said, ask an arson inspector about it. As stood at my buddy's burnt down house, he is the one who told me that there is no such thing as a fireproof safe. Put papers or discs in a fireproof safe, and they will melt or burn. This is his words. I figure he should know, he's schooled in this profession.

My comment is, why chance it? I'd rather pay $8 a year for a safety deposit box and know for sure that it is safe, rather than spend over $1,000 on a fireproof safe that arson inspectors say are not fireproof in a house fire.


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7/23/2005 9:37:23 AM

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