Monday, February 7, 2011

Keeping up with my Photo Library, and Aperture 3 (part 4)

Backup, Redundancy and Disaster Recovery.

Because many of my photos are of my family and kids growing up, they are irreplaceable.  So far I have been lucky that I have not had any catastrophic failures, but, from my work life I know the risk well.  I will never be able to retake the photo of my kid's first step. So...

First, I backup on all active-media.  This means hard drives.  I don't use DVD for backup for two reasons.  The first is that I can't keep up with it.  The second is that they tend to deteriorate.   I know I won't bother to read every DVD periodically to make sure it is still good which defeats the purpose.

I choose a multiple hard drive solution using the reasoning that if I regularly access them I can tell when one starts to go bad or has died and then can replace it.  (I'll talk a little about RAID at the end)

My Storage:

  • Laptop drive (250 GB)
  • Backup drive (200 GB file sync, 300 GB time machine)
  • Library drive (1TB portable USB drive)
  • Library Backup drive (1 TB desktop USB drive)
  • Offsite Library Backup drive (1 TB desktop USB drive)
    • I know I have triple backup this way, but since I have the drives I do this.  You could easily use the Library Backup drive as offsite.

Key Workflow Elements:

  • I keep one month's worth of photos on my laptop drive.  After which they are synced to the Library drive & Backup Library drive.
For each import or change:
  • Current Month:
    • Sync & run TimeMachine to Backup drive after every import and initial sort.
      • CF cards are not formatted until this is complete.
      • Copies exist on two drives: Laptop drive & Backup drive
    • Sync & run TimeMachine to Backup drive after every edit.
  • Previous Months
    • On any edit or change:
      • Sync from Library Drive to Backup Library drive
      • Run TimeMachine to Backup drive
  • Move images from previous month on Laptop drive to Library drive
    • Make sure Aperture library is in sync with the new master reference location.
  • Sync from Library drive to Backup Library drive
  • Run TimeMachine to Backup drive.
  • Sync from Library to Offsite drive.

At Various Steps in the Workflow
Out of camera:

  • CF cards.

Initial import, sort, and organization:

  • CF Cards
  • Laptop hard drive
After initial organization and editing completion:
  • Laptop hard drive
  • USB backup drive (both file sync & time machine)
Upon future edit (current month):
  • Laptop hard drive
  • USB backup drive (both file sync & time machine)
Upon future edit (previous months)
  • Library hard drive
  • Backup Library hard drive
  • Library drive
  • Backup Library drive
  • Offsite Backup Library drive
Sharing (as I feel like it)
  • iPad
  • Flickr 
It is worth noting that with this process I could loose up to a month's images in case of a fire or other location disaster.  I'm ok with that level of risk since I tend to post full size of some images to flickr fairly quickly after they are taken so it wouldn't be a total loss.

I use a sync utility (copyTwoFolders) to manage my synchronization.   I use the mode to repeat adds, changes, and deletes from the source to the target.   I use time machine to manage the local disk backup which includes the aperture Library file.  Since I use referenced masters I don't worry too much about it.

About RAID:
I think I would love a RAID solution to automatically create redundancy.   I haven't so far because of three issues:  

The first is that I don't want to spend the money.  I know it isn't that much more, but it just hasn't hit the price-point yet.

The second is that RAID isn't portable.   I want my 1TB portable drive so I can have access to my Library from my laptop anywhere.  I've tried networked over WiFi, but it is too slow and doesn't travel well.   Therefor I'd still need my main portable Library drive and a Library Backup drive.

The third is that RAID can't be geographically separated. 

So when there is a cost effective, portable (USB powered) 1TB RAID 0 mirror hard drive with user swappable drives; I'll get that.  Though I'm not holding my breath.  Its like the one pound, f/2.8, 17-400mm, lens that is less than 6" long, for under $1k;  not likely yet.  If I worked from a desk and wasn't as concerned about portability there are lots of good RAID solutions.

Up next: Editing and Sharing, finally the last part.

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