[nSLUG] Backups: dealing with large, growing photo collections

Richard Bonner ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca
Wed Mar 31 13:37:25 ADT 2010

On Tue, 30 Mar 2010, Ben Armstrong wrote:

> On 03/30/2010 01:37 PM, Richard Bonner wrote:

>> On Tue, 30 Mar 2010, Ben Armstrong wrote:
>>>>> Even the largest of these, flash drives, would be prohibitively
>>> expensive at that size.
>> ***   Costs are dropping, but that aside, one only need back up data,
>> not programs. Even with movies, one could transfer them to DVD.
> /home is almost entirely data, so that's all we're talking about.  Even
> after dropping junk/transient material, it still exceeds a "comfortable"
> number of DVDs to archive.  That's because they include years of
> accumulated photos, plus in recent years, resolutions of cameras owned
> by family members have been on the rise, plus they're starting to make
> video clips with their cameras too.

***   Since I have done backups over the years, old, accumulated stuff 
has been placed onto disc or flashdrives along the way.

>> ***   What about using a second TB drive?
> That wouldn't fundamentally change the problem.  Ultimately, the problem
> is not "where do I put all of this?"  That's obvious, I put it on a
> bunch of DVDs.  As I indicated, I have plenty.  The problem is, how do I:
> - archive stuff that is large, slowly grows over time, needs to all be
> on the hard drive at once, and yet *sometimes* changes in mostly very
> small ways

***   I think a second drive would be needed.

> - keep a set of archive disks with as little duplication as possible
> storing the whole collection

***   Must each incremental change be kept or only the latest 

> My standard backup approach fails here:
> A cycle of full & incremental archives
> Let's say I do "full" archives only monthly and the incrementals never
> actually go to DVD, but rather are copied to the second drive (on a
> second machine, so if the whole machine goes up in smoke, the data
> survives).
> The problem with this approach is in the monthly full archives, I keep
> rewriting archives of the same old material, all of those years of
> accumulation of photos, which haven't really changed.

***   Perhaps you might write a script file that ignores files that 
have not changed.

> "ok, so make the full cycle longer, say, one year ..."
> Well, this is going to put my data on the incrementals at bigger risk of
> loss, isn't it? since both drives could go at the same time ...

***   Correct. so how about using an external drive for the backup?

> "ok, then make the full cycle longer, but burn a backup of all
> incremental data accumulated that month to disc every month for
> safekeeping ..."
> Well, now the risk is shifted to the full ... what if last year's full
> backup goes bad?  now both it *and* all of my incrementals are worthless.

***   I guess you'll have to back up the backups, Ben  (-:

> So it is merely a matter of scheduling.  I haven't yet found a way to
> rotate the data to archival disks (oh yeah, and while we're on this
> topic, my father has urged me to look into "archival quality" disks
> because standard DVDs will eventually go bad ...) and replace any
> material that has changed on old disks with new as needed (should be
> fairly rare) without re-burning a whole set.

***   There was an article about this a few years ago saying that 
CD-ROM and DVD discs can deteriorate must faster than originally 
thought. I believe I may have that scanned and will post a link if so.

>> ***   I dump millisecond-duplicates and duds, and tend to keep the
>> rest on CD-ROMs.
> And sure, that's another option, just remove the material entirely from
> the hard drive once you've archived it to disc, and make the users have
> to pull the disc and copy stuff from it if they want to mess with their
> older material.

***   This is what I currently do.

> But that adds wear-and-tear to those discs and adds a
> barrier to creativity (my users are more likely to reach for material on
> the hard drive than go hunting through archival disks, even if they have
> a good index of them on the hard drive).

***   Tell them that "Creativity requires discipline."  (-:

> So what I was fishing for, and still haven't heard from anyone about, is
> some sort of schedule you have set up for photo archiving to DVD that
> works around the whole conventional full/incremental scheduling problem
> I outlined above.
> Ben

***   Your criteria and mine differ. For almost all of my data 
backups, I overwrite previous versions and so need only deal with one 
version. That is easy to archive.

    For on-going data to which I need immediate access, I copy it to my 
laptop and home hard drives. For my webpages, there are copies at 
work, home and on the laptop, plus on the Chebucto server. Those are 
backed up to disc several times a year as well.

    For photos, I have them on CD-ROM, flashdrives and some on the hard 
drives of the systems at home, work and portable. I am lucky, I don't 
have that many media files and can get away with these methods.


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