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View Full Version : Anyone use an external hardrive for backup??



TheObiJuan
03-28-2005, 11:54 PM
I have to start backing up my files from now on, and want something independent of my computers hard drive. It would need to be atleast 60 gigs, and external. I have a budget of approx. $150 devoted to it. Do y'all use any external HD's? Any good/bad experiences?

Are there any external harddrives that allow you to plug CF cards in them?

D70FAN
03-29-2005, 05:22 AM
I have to start backing up my files from now on, and want something independent of my computers hard drive. It would need to be atleast 60 gigs, and external. I have a budget of approx. $150 devoted to it. Do y'all use any external HD's? Any good/bad experiences?

Are there any external harddrives that allow you to plug CF cards in them?

Fry's Electronics has the Wolverine 40GB SixPac Portable hard drive for $139. It has a 6in1 card reader built in. Even with the D70 this would allow 8000 to 16000 shots in RAW or JPEG fine respectively.

If you are not near a Fry's Electronics, maybe Outpost.com (owned by Fry's) has this as well.

gary_hendricks
03-29-2005, 06:10 AM
I have to start backing up my files from now on, and want something independent of my computers hard drive. It would need to be atleast 60 gigs, and external. I have a budget of approx. $150 devoted to it. Do y'all use any external HD's? Any good/bad experiences?

Are there any external harddrives that allow you to plug CF cards in them?

There are portable hard drives in the market now that allow you to plug in your CF cards for backup. However, if I were you, I'd wait for a couple of months until 'USB-on-the-go' devices come out.

These will allow you to connect 2 USB devices and transfer data without the need for a computer! I currently have a portable 2.5 inch hard drive and a card reader. I intend to hook them up in this manner when travelling and taking photos.

Thalas'shaya
03-29-2005, 07:31 AM
i have had one good and one bad experience with an external hard drive. i was working at a company that used large databases to drive their enterprise software. as you can well imagine, demonstrating this software on the road, from a laptop, was a technical challenge. i was in charge of making the demos fly, and at one point we had to visit a client to show them stuff that i could not possibly fit on even the most hoss laptop in the office. so we bought an external hd, and tested it out on several machines and all was well. it had plenty of room, access was fast, we ran oracle from the laptop over to datastores on the external drive and it worked.

then we got ready for the annual tradeshow, and while we were on the show floor the first day getting ready, a Bad Thing (tm, pat. pend.) happened to the hard drive. it totally croaked. we tried everything, up to and including pulling the guts out of it and plugging them into an identical model, but it was unrecoverable. all the data on the thing was gone forever. it turned out the company owner had randomly unplugged a few things in our power cabinet so she could check e-mail on her laptop, and one of the things she unplugged was the hd. it died without the opportunity for any of its failsafes to go into action.

now, with that said, the only time i've ever seen a portable hd go south was when something awful like an unplanned power outage hit it. so, assuming you plan to take as much care with the hd as you do with your camera, you should be fine. i highly recommend a power surge bar with a little redundant battery power, if you're in an area prone to power flickers.

Norm in Fujino
03-29-2005, 07:45 AM
I have to start backing up my files from now on, and want something independent of my computers hard drive. It would need to be atleast 60 gigs, and external. I have a budget of approx. $150 devoted to it. Do y'all use any external HD's? Any good/bad experiences?
Are there any external harddrives that allow you to plug CF cards in them?

If you're thinking of backing up just your photographs, I would seriously consider a DVD-R drive at this point. I have a 160G external hard drive which I use for backing up my main hard drive, but not for photograph storage.
I currently use CD-R for photographs (making 2 discs each time, one for use and one for storage). I figure when I move up to my next digital camera, it will be a DSLR, and I will be shooting RAW, so with the increasing file size, CD-R will be too small to be effective, and at that time I'll buy an external DVD-R drive. Based on what I've read, good brands of CD-R disc will probably still be readable in 10 years, so I'll keep an eye on my oldest CD-R archive discs and start recopying them to DVD after a few more years. A hard disc is a fine investment, but I hate to put all my eggs in any single basket.

Manwich
03-29-2005, 10:57 AM
I generally disagree with the DVD-R backup method. Slow, relatively expensive, and relative to photo collections, small. (4.7 GB, usually) It's these limitations (particularly switching in 5 or 6 blank DVDs) that'll aggravate a fair number of people and eventually cause them to abandon their backup strategy. Make the process as painless and automatic as possible. I use Apple's .Mac Backup, which despite its simplicity, does allow automatic scheduled backups. I schedule it for Friday at noon when I'm at work so it's harder to avoid. I use iCal to remind me a few hours in advance that the backup is coming up so I can connect my backup device. My 28 GB photo library takes 20 minutes or less to complete its incremental backup (ie., add only new items since last backup.)

I recommend an external HD... a small, portable one. If you're a laptop user like I am, you'll appreciate the portability. But portability is your call, I suppose. I was able to make an external FireWire/USB-2 HD for about $150 buying a separate 5,400 RPM notebook drive and a portable case. The case has rubber shockmounts to cushion the drive a little.

You said "backup" which leaves me to believe you are not "archiving", i.e., the only copy of, say, your oldest photos will be on the external device. Because, yes, HDs do fail suddenly and sometimes without warning. And dropping a device can happen suddenly, too. But if your photos are on your main HD at that point, you'll be okay.

If you are truly archiving, you might consider integrating the CD-R or DVD-R into your strategy. If you DO have DVD-R capability, there are still good reasons to periodically make a full archive of your photo library. I do this about once every 4-6 months so I can remove photos from my computer's HD and free up space.

Recently, these practices saved my photographic butt when I accidentally wrote a copy of OS X Server over my Powerbook's HD. Long story involving much frustration and very late hours. :-)

In that case, I only lost about 1 week of photos. Nothing important. And I've since corrected my practices to capture a potential lost week of photos: only erase my 1 GB CF cards after the weekly backup.

Hope something here helps!

-Marc

Manwich
03-29-2005, 11:21 AM
If you're thinking of backing up just your photographs, I would seriously consider a DVD-R drive at this point. I have a 160G external hard drive which I use for backing up my main hard drive, but not for photograph storage.
I currently use CD-R for photographs (making 2 discs each time, one for use and one for storage). I figure when I move up to my next digital camera, it will be a DSLR, and I will be shooting RAW, so with the increasing file size, CD-R will be too small to be effective, and at that time I'll buy an external DVD-R drive. Based on what I've read, good brands of CD-R disc will probably still be readable in 10 years, so I'll keep an eye on my oldest CD-R archive discs and start recopying them to DVD after a few more years. A hard disc is a fine investment, but I hate to put all my eggs in any single basket.

I kinda disagree with the DVD-R idea... see my separate post. But that's because my photo library after a year with a dSLR is nearing 30 GB. With even an 8X DVD-R, that's be a slow mess of changing disks and waiting. And my DVD-R is 4X. I think the last DVD-R archive I made took several hours.

I'm of the opinion a good backup strategy involves a couple types of device and both backup and archive. Ideally you want to be able to recover from a disater where everything onsite is destroyed, a single-device failure (HD crash, perhaps) or a Stupid Mistake (TM) that leaves you with a need to recover the original of a recent photo or section of your library.

Of course, methods for ensuring against all three are usually expensive, so I trade off. I generally assume that if my house burns down, I've got bigger problems than a lost photo library. So I skimp on the offsite (though my portable backup HD sort of serves this need if my laptop bag is with me and away from the house if it goes up in flames.

But I do think the periodic archive combined with regular backups gets most of it.

D70FAN
03-29-2005, 11:59 AM
I kinda disagree with the DVD-R idea... see my separate post. But that's because my photo library after a year with a dSLR is nearing 30 GB. With even an 8X DVD-R, that's be a slow mess of changing disks and waiting. And my DVD-R is 4X. I think the last DVD-R archive I made took several hours.

I'm of the opinion a good backup strategy involves a couple types of device and both backup and archive. Ideally you want to be able to recover from a disater where everything onsite is destroyed, a single-device failure (HD crash, perhaps) or a Stupid Mistake (TM) that leaves you with a need to recover the original of a recent photo or section of your library.

Of course, methods for ensuring against all three are usually expensive, so I trade off. I generally assume that if my house burns down, I've got bigger problems than a lost photo library. So I skimp on the offsite (though my portable backup HD sort of serves this need if my laptop bag is with me and away from the house if it goes up in flames.

But I do think the periodic archive combined with regular backups gets most of it.

DVD must be part of a good archive/backup strategy, as is an external portable 2.5 inch USB (2.0HS) hard drive. Yes it is a pain, but it is a dicipline that you need as a digital photographer. Thinking back to film, at least you have an archive/backup option.

And if you can afford a large outside server that is even better. Having lost some valuable (personally) photos in the past has tought me never to assume security, and transfer the images to multiple backups as soon as possible. A little healthy paranoia can be a good thing. ;)

But I think Juans original question was aimed at temporary mass storage solution versus a laptop for travel, and maybe ultimatley as an additional backup.

TheObiJuan
03-29-2005, 12:19 PM
My only computer at the moment is a laptop. I have ample room, but wish to archive everything. I did consider getting an external DVD-R or even a DVD-RW, but that would be a pain. I have been burning all of the shoots that I have done recently and keeping them in their case, labeled with the customers name, date, and amount paid. They just get stored in a box with other stuff I have. I will just bit the bullet and get an external HD, that perhaps has the CF card slot built in, and can connect to my computer. It sure would be nice to be able to see what is on it. :) And to just drag "My Documents" over to it and let it copy all the new files over night.

D70FAN
03-29-2005, 12:41 PM
My only computer at the moment is a laptop. I have ample room, but wish to archive everything. I did consider getting an external DVD-R or even a DVD-RW, but that would be a pain. I have been burning all of the shoots that I have done recently and keeping them in their case, labeled with the customers name, date, and amount paid. They just get stored in a box with other stuff I have. I will just bit the bullet and get an external HD, that perhaps has the CF card slot built in, and can connect to my computer. It sure would be nice to be able to see what is on it. :) And to just drag "My Documents" over to it and let it copy all the new files over night.

How much more of a "pain" would it be to loose all of your work? I double back-up everything.

Again you might want to look at the Wolverine. For $139 it would do what you want. 40GB hard drive, and a 6in1 card reader.

Manwich
03-29-2005, 01:42 PM
There are portable hard drives in the market now that allow you to plug in your CF cards for backup. However, if I were you, I'd wait for a couple of months until 'USB-on-the-go' devices come out.

These will allow you to connect 2 USB devices and transfer data without the need for a computer! I currently have a portable 2.5 inch hard drive and a card reader. I intend to hook them up in this manner when travelling and taking photos.

Sounds like maybe, though, you'll pay a price for early-adoption.

My other suggestion is that if you already have an iPod (lord knows if you don't this is not cost-effective) there are card readers (Belkin makes one for $90) that attach to the iPod and allow you to store photos on your iPod. And I'm not talking just the iPod Photo. I mean any 4G iPod, and perhaps even the Mini.

Manwich
03-29-2005, 01:48 PM
DVD must be part of a good archive/backup strategy, as is an external portable 2.5 inch USB (2.0HS) hard drive.

I should have clarified my original statement as disagreeing with a DVD-R only solution. I certainly do archive to DVD, but not as part of the weekly incremental backup ritual.

And as far as the discipline goes, that's an individual call. I'm a professional network admin -- I ought to be disciplined about this stuff. But I found that until I made it nearly automatic and seamless, I was skipping my personal backups because they were getting in the way and hampering other work. So much for discipline. :-D

D70FAN
03-29-2005, 02:42 PM
I should have clarified my original statement as disagreeing with a DVD-R only solution. I certainly do archive to DVD, but not as part of the weekly incremental backup ritual.

And as far as the discipline goes, that's an individual call. I'm a professional network admin -- I ought to be disciplined about this stuff. But I found that until I made it nearly automatic and seamless, I was skipping my personal backups because they were getting in the way and hampering other work. So much for discipline. :-D

Using +RW disks makes it pretty easy to transfer often. Once full, I transfer to +R (about every 2 months). First download is generally to an external 60GB, 2.5inch, drive in a portable USB2.0HS case via the laptop. Then, when the shoot is done and I return home I copy to a dedicated 200GB Hard drive in my desktop system. So now I have images on the 2.5 inch drive (usually in the car), on the main computer drive, and on a DVD+RW. And finally on a DVD+R (both DVD's are in a protective case). I suppose that one of the DVD's should go to some other location, but I don't want to saddle someone with the responsibility. Although I have considered a safe-deposit box.

Yes, I have to force myself to do this, so I'm not as diciplined as I led you to believe. :o And I don't necessarily do this immediately. ;)

It's tough, but when I remember what happened to about 2500 fully edited and titled shots when my last dedicated hard drive crashed...

...it spurs me on. Not quite OC, but close. :)

Norm in Fujino
03-29-2005, 04:45 PM
Yes, I have to force myself to do this, so I'm not as diciplined as I led you to believe. :o And I don't necessarily do this immediately. ;)

I should've made clear that my strategy isn't nearly so difficult as it might have sounded. It works for me, however, because it matches my current workload in terms of photographs. It obviously might not work for others who take photos professionally and thus have a much heavier flow of work.

I have created a special partition on my hd with a capacity of just about 800 MB--a bit bigger than one CD-R. The partition is divided into several folders, including "new" and whatever other topical referents are necessary (home, work, family, etc.).

My current camera is a 4MB Oly C-755, and at top JPEG (SHQ), my files are about 2+ MB each. That works out to about 300+ photos per 700MB disc, assuming I haven't made any PSP or PS native format files or whatever in the meantime. When I download photos from my memory card to HD, I load them into the "new" folder, and immediately rotate them as necessary and rename them using PIE (Photo Information Extractor with lossless rotator).

When I get a bit of free time, I browse the photos and create a simple text file labeled with the historical consectutive number of the next disc in my overall series; the text file holds information describing the current photos, including what subfolder they can be found in, their subject matter, and any other keywords that might facilitate searching later.

When the partition signals it's becoming full, and after I've created the necessary subfolders and text file, I simply use a standard CD-R burning program to drag the whole subdirectory structure to the CD-R and burn a couple of copies, which takes about a half hour. I label the discs with their consecutive series number, and add on one disc "for use" and on the other "archive."
Then I erase all the photos from the hard drive and start over.

When I need to find a photo for use in a project, I do a quick text search of all the descriptive text files, which I keep on a single directory on my HD. It takes seconds to perform, and assuming I've thought about my key words with a modicum of care, it's pretty accurate. It's a simple matter to pop the proper disc in the drive and go immediately to the directory where the photo(s) are located.
The hardest part of this system is taking the time to make the descriptive text file, so I usually work on that sporatically from time to time, at any rate completing it before burning a disc. It isn't that big a burden, though.

Assuming I switch to a dslr and RAW, the size of individual photo files will jump by a factor of five or more, so the number of photos that can be recorded on a single CD-R will drop to maybe 50. That's when it will become time to buy a DVD-R unit. The process will remain basically the same, altho I asume it takes proportionally more time to burn a DVD, so I'll probably do it at night, or just before leaving for work, etc.
--That's the plan, at least.

TheObiJuan
03-29-2005, 05:26 PM
How much more of a "pain" would it be to loose all of your work? I double back-up everything.

Again you might want to look at the Wolverine. For $139 it would do what you want. 40GB hard drive, and a 6in1 card reader.

with just an external hd i would not lose my data since I would have it on my hd, external hd, and the backup CD i make and store in my box.
The DVD method would be a pain and more expensive for me at the moment.
If, however, I start doing small weddings, then perhaps it would become an option.

edit: the wolvering is looking like the answer.

TheObiJuan
03-29-2005, 05:28 PM
what did you think about the 350D? It is hard to actually review a camera's worth at a store. You need to carry it around for a day or so shooting many different types of photographic catagories.

PeterN
03-30-2005, 01:34 AM
The online photos of the Wolverine seem to be almost identical to the xs drive: http://www.xs-drive.com/xsdrive2/ I have one of those and I'm a happy customer. The following relates to the Xs-drive:

You can plug in a memory card and copy it directly to the hard drive while you are running on the rechargable batteries. That means when a memory card is full you can copy it to the drive, format the card and re-use it without returning to a PC or laptop. Unfortunately there's no way to check that a good copy was made because the display won't show images or the file structure. I find myself copying the card twice "Just to be sure" though there's no guarantee.
At one time you could buy the unit without a drive and buy your own laptop drive to install.

IMHO this drive has a different function from the other USB backup drives you see in the PC market. I take this one with me on my travels so that I can keep shooting when my memory cards are full. That means I don't have to lug a laptop around. A backup drive is connected to a PC for the purpose of copying a PC hard drive. They are "portable" in that they can be taken to another PC but they don't usually have rechargable batteries or work in "stand alone" mode.

Hope this helps.
Pete

D70FAN
03-30-2005, 05:32 AM
what did you think about the 350D? It is hard to actually review a camera's worth at a store. You need to carry it around for a day or so shooting many different types of photographic catagories.

I deleted the post. As I accidentally stuck it on this thread.

schmoppa
04-04-2005, 01:43 PM
I use a nixvue digital album lite (came without a hard drive), bought a 40GB drive separately (cheaper than buying the two as one product). In April 2003, I paid $200 for the nixvue anda bout $120 for the 2.5" hdd.

This only reads CF (but you can use adapters).

This is great for travel, but I am very anal and careful about protecting it from theft and getting jostled.

At home, I have my entire photo collection (about 55GB maybe?) on my computer, and backed up periodically to a tape drive ( Exabyte VXA 2, very reilable and not too expensive). Tape currently is *the* safest way to back data up. Like someone else said, optical storage is not a completely reliable medium, even under controlled storage conditions.

D70FAN
04-04-2005, 02:09 PM
I use a nixvue digital album lite (came without a hard drive), bought a 40GB drive separately (cheaper than buying the two as one product). In April 2003, I paid $200 for the nixvue anda bout $120 for the 2.5" hdd.

This only reads CF (but you can use adapters).

This is great for travel, but I am very anal and careful about protecting it from theft and getting jostled.

At home, I have my entire photo collection (about 55GB maybe?) on my computer, and backed up periodically to a tape drive ( Exabyte VXA 2, very reilable and not too expensive). Tape currently is *the* safest way to back data up. Like someone else said, optical storage is not a completely reliable medium, even under controlled storage conditions.

I don't know... Heat and stray magnetic fields have a tendacy to "upset" magnetic tape. I think the latest tests have shown that while CD-R may not be the longest lived medium (4-12 years), that write once DVD (-R and +R) have very good longevity and are resistant to most of the plagues that troubled older formats and formulations. While one source put this life at 100 years, I believe that was for prerecorded DVD (like movies) with -R and +R at 40-60 years.

There is no fool-proof system. Even with film the only backup was a print. If the negative was damaged or destroyed that was it. At least with digital you can make digital copies identical to the original, and back it up in several locations and on several formats (including prints) for pennies. :)

I can store 940 RAW (NEF) images or 1800 JPEG fine images on one $0.35 DVD+R.

Rhys
04-04-2005, 06:14 PM
I had so much trouble with DVDs that I never use the wretched things now. Instead I have a cake box full of backed-up photo CDs.

At home I have a server with two, mirrored hard drives containing my photos.

In SC I'm currently working my way through a surplus of 1.3 - 1.7ghz machines, turning them into a wifi network with a mirrored fileserver.

Incidentally, if you can put up with The Gimp then I can recommend running Ubuntu Linux instead of Windoze.

MrForgetable
04-08-2005, 06:23 PM
i back up my photos on my iPod, and on CDs.

nice.

Tomdos
04-12-2005, 03:55 PM
Has anyone used a SmartDisk FlashTrax? More expensive but comes with a 3.5 inch screen to review your pics.