Monday, January 29, 2007

How would you back up your precious digital media?

Ok. As the resolution of digital camera increases, and the ease of creating video clips continues, the need to securely preserve digital content is on the rise.

In the days of film, people didn't often bother. They kept their negatives alongside the prints. But in a digital age, the potential number of ways to lose your content seems to be higher.

Options include

  • Buy a high capacity external hard drive to store your content. Some dual drive RAID1 devices are now available, giving you hardware resilience. Pros: can be easily moved between computers as you upgrade. It's a one-off cost, and you stay in control. You can store video as well as pictures. Cons: the burglar may steal both your PC and the backup drive, or a fire could destroy both RAID drives since they're in the same case in the same room. And the RAID disk format may be locked down to FAT32, making it impossibly to backup large video files (NTFS preferable, but not Mac compatible). Oh, and you don't do much to deter accidental deletion.
  • Using services like Flickr Pro to upload your photos. Pros: you can sleep easy safe in knowledge that your content is being stored in someone else's data centre. Cons: companies come and go, as do their policies. How long will Flickr last? And it's yet another bill to add to your monthly outgoings.
  • And then there's the awkward solution of backing up to CDs or DVDs, but with the pain of having to check that you can read the disks back in more than one drive (otherwise when you change computer, you run the risk of losing the one drive that could read the disks).

At some stage over the next few years, I reckon I'll switch from PC/Windows to a Mac. So I'd like a solution that will last.

Your comments and ideas welcomed. What do you do?


Stephen Barnes said...

Do what I do: buy two 400GB USB drives from PC World (they're about £110 at the moment) Use something like Synctoy to backup on a daily basis, but remember to keep one of the disks at a different location - mothers/girlfriends/mates are all ideal for this ;-) Swap the disks on a weekly basis, and you'll only ever lose a week's worth of data.

Great Blog, BTW!

Anonymous said...

My big plan was to use my 250gb internal drive to store everything and my 300gb usb drive for weekly backups - 40gb for windows and stuff.

Unfortuantely the internal drive had an incident a few months back and I almost lost everything - managed to get it all onto the usb drive, which is where everything is now.

I still havent got myself another drive. I'm running out of space and definitely scared of losing everything. I should really get my act together...

John Self said...

I don't have that much stuff that I'm interested in backing up - some writing, my pics (and most of those are on Flickr) - so all I have is a little 6GB drive which is about the size of a block of Post-Its so it's fully portable. It also enables me to transfer stuff from my home computer to work if it's too big to be emailed.

BT Vault offers up to 2GB online storage for free, or more for a monthly charge.

As a recent switchee to the Mac, I've found that most external hard drives work for PC and Mac.