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How Do You Store Your Personal Photos? 680

mxhf writes "I just came back from a four-week vacation to Mexico. This is the country for Aztecs and Maya Ruins and we visited plenty of them. Needless to say we took thousands of pictures with two cameras. Having arrived back home I realize that my hard-disk does not have enough space left to hold the additional 16GB that I collected on the other side of the globe. Now, my hard disk already is 250GB. I work exclusively on a laptop and do not want to change this. I know that there are larger disks today. But I figured that the time has come to finally move my image collection from my laptop to somewhere else. But where should I go? So, how do you store your photo collections? And how do you keep backups? These are obviously images that I want to keep for my life. So the need to survive fires, burglaries, etc. I think the amount of data I have rules online storage out. Should I just get two USB disks and leave one at a reasonably save location? I think this must be a common problem today. And yes — before you ask — I do know that the first thing to do is to go through your collection and dump what is not worth keeping."
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How Do You Store Your Personal Photos?

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  • by adam ( 1231 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:48PM (#34945072)
    In your case, since it sounds like you don't create that much data, you'd probably be fine picking up a couple of portable USB drives (2.5" drive, powered over USB = tiny). For consumer use, the Samsung Goflex 1TB [] (the 2.5" version) is around $100, widely available, and works great in my experience. Buy two. Use one as your master repository, one as a backup of that, and keep the second in a water-proof container (hint: try rubbermaid containers, they're waterproof and cost about $4), locked in an inexpensive fire safe, safety deposit box, or at a nearby friend's or relative's house. If you aren't needing to store more than 64GB of material then you could substitute "thumb drive" or "CF/SD card and reader" for portable USB drive ... solid state media will be 'safer' for long-term storage but obviously afford less space-per-dollar.

    A better option, but beyond what you wanted is a SAN/NAS. Drobo makes some decent products, and I currently have a DroboFS [] at my home, loaded with 2TB drives. This gives me a little over 7TB of RAID storage to backup all my footage, images, documents, and so forth. It's network addressable, so any of the several machines in my house (both Mac and Windows) can access it. The total cost (Drobo + drives) was around $1100 or $1200 iirc. The downside to the FS is that its max transfer speed is around 20MB/sec, but they do offer other models [] with transfer speeds that are better suited to live editing — I only use the FS for backup, I have 4TB [in the machine I am posting from now] dedicated to live editing. The Drobo is nice, imo, because it's a consumer-oriented appliance (with RAID built in) that can take any SATA drive, will allow you to mix and match drive capacities on the fly, and they offer 'Time Machine' style automated backups (along with other apps) if you want that sort of thing. Beyond the Drobo, I also do separate backups to portable drives and keep them offsite (as I mentioned above), just as an extra level of paranoia in case my house burns down. If you are really paranoid or into safety, LTO [] would be a better way to go for this.

    Actually, given how little data you (the original poster) might need to backup, an old LTO machine bought on craigslist (LTO 1 will do 100GB, 2 does 200GB) might be the solution. The tapes are relatively cheap, and the format is both open and reverse-compatible for a few generations (so when your LTO 1 craigslist machine dies you can buy an LTO 2 or 3 machine from the same venue and still access your content (and then migrate it forward to LTO 2 or 3)).
  • Downsample..... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:53PM (#34945160)

    As a part time pro photographer, I'll let you on a little secret. You rarely need more than 5 MP of data. Downsample all your images to 2500px on the long side, with the appropriate aspect ratio, save as 98% JPG and enjoy. Unless you are going to print 30x40-inch high gloss roll off prints, or crop massively, your 12-15 MP camera is really chewing up disk space for no good reason.

  • Flickr (Score:3, Informative)

    by kenholm3 ( 1400969 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:56PM (#34945206) Homepage Journal
    $25 / year. Easy to use. Easy to share. My 70 y/o dad harasses me on a regular basis when we'll post new photos. Currently have 10k+ pics online. Back up of our Flickr is Carbonite. -K
  • by Superken7 ( 893292 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:56PM (#34945220) Journal

    I like to keep them in picasa. I trust the cloud (especially for a company like google) much more than my own management of a couple hard drives.
    Plus, I like the service (its interface, being able to download the original, easy sharing, transparent sync to my phone, etc..).
    The big downside is not being able to download entire albums in one download (maybe there are 3rd party apps that do that), and the fact that you can't upload videos unless you are using the windows client (I usually just use the web).

  • by HotBits ( 1390689 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:59PM (#34945282)

    1- Don't erase any images from the memory card except the useless ones (like those with the lens cap on). Get a new card when full. This is much cheaper than film and developing was just a few years ago.

    2- When card is full, or when you get back from a trip like that, copy all the images to an external USB hard disk.

    3- Every once in a while (once per year at least), do a system backup to the external USB hard drive, encrypt anything that might be embarrassing, and send the drive to your Mom for off-site storage.

  • Re:Online ruled out? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kenj0418 ( 230916 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:00PM (#34945288)

    I definitely wouldn't rule online backup out.

    If we are just talking about photos, there are even more options. A Flickr Pro subscription allows unlimited photos for $25/yr with (optional) sharing of photos.

    There are 3rd party services that will send you a backup of all of your Flickr photos for $20/DVD.

    Personally, I keep my own backup, but upload nearly all my photos (except those of Ray William Johnson's mom) to Flickr just in case (and to share with friends and family).

  • Re:Downsample..... (Score:4, Informative)

    by EvanED ( 569694 ) <evaned@gmail. c o m> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:06PM (#34945372)

    I sort of agree with this and sort of disagree.

    On one hand, the poster is right: high resolution isn't really useful unless you want huge size or a very large crop.

    But on the other hand, there are a couple reasons you might not want to do that. First, I recommend doing that resizing in post (instead of in-camera) if at all. This gives you the freedom to look at them and go "oh, actually I do want to crop that tiny section" before you lose the ability. Second, I still recommend shooting RAW if your camera can. The resolution doesn't matter, but the likely extra dynamic range and the lossless white balancing adjusting does. Then you have a decision as to whether you keep the RAWs around, or post-process to JPGs and save those. You can definitely do the latter and reclaim space, but I'm a fan of the former -- and my workflow doesn't provide any opportunity to downsample. I don't even know of any tools that will let you downsample a RAW and still get a RAW, though I suppose perhaps some DNG conversion tool may let you do it.

    (Downsampling makes a lot more sense for someone like this submitter than it does for me for instance. I shoot a fair number of photos, but even at nearly 30 MB a shot (18 MP or so in RAW) the main reason I whine about the size is the flash card itself -- and if you take my advice to downsample on the computer, it doesn't get around that problem. But I have a desktop with a ton of space and a 500 GB USB drive. For me, storage is very cheap not just in monetary cost but in terms of what I need to do to use it. Someone like the submitter may have a bigger problem with the latter.)

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:14PM (#34945486)
    Be careful with fire safes. They are generally designed and rated for paper, not electronic media, and will get too hot for electronics to survive. Be sure the safe you get is rated for electronic media. Also such electronic media rated safes I've seen are really designed for disaster not security, a claw hammer can probably open them. If you are just storing your family photos this is probably a plus.
  • Re:Online ruled out? (Score:5, Informative)

    by joebok ( 457904 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:25PM (#34945632) Homepage Journal

    Absolutely don't rule out online backup. I recently started using DropBox as an on-line backup for my iPhoto library. When I combined that with using PhoShare ( I can easily keep a backup in the cloud for a very reasonable price.

    Note that I use PhoShare's resize option when I export my library - that makes it fit. I used to worry about keeping originals and lossyness and all that, but in real life I look at the pics on a screen or a photo frame or print 4x6 at most - so even if I have a total disaster and lose my hard drives and backup SAN, I'll still have "good enough" copies in the "cloud".

  • Re:My solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by EkriirkE ( 1075937 ) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:48PM (#34945932) Homepage
    With penises and demotivational captions added in.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:03PM (#34946800)

    SentrySafe makes a very nice document safe with a USB pass-through, the QE5541 []. My 2.5" backup drive resides in the safe 24/7.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."