Never play Hopscotch in a Minefield- Digital basics Volume 33
Kia ora tatou:
Herewith the second of my digital basics primers.
I recently had a conversation with an eager amateur photographer who had been into digital for a year and was happily saving her work to her hard drive. When I mentioned archiving/backing up, her comment went along the lines of ‘isn’t the hard drive enough? Why would I want to use a CD?”
Rule one of computing: it’s not a question of if your HDD will fail, but when. Storing your images only on an HDD is like playing hopscotch in a minefield. Sooner or later you will tread on one and get your leg blown off. If you value your images, you will need to archive them. So how do you back up? There are a number of options
- An external hard drive. You can buy these cheaply enough. ATM you can get a 250 GB drive in a case for around $300. Check out Pricespy for the best prices. Advantages include portability, ease of access to data and simplicity of access. Get a USB2.0 or Firewire casing for it.
- CD/DVD. You can buy blank CD’s for under $1.50 each and DVD’s for around $2.00. Cd’s store up to 700Mb of data and single-layer DVD’s around 4.3 Gb. On a dollar/byte basis, DVD has to be the way to go. You can get dual-layer DVD’s, but these are expensive, and by all accounts, fragile. Then there is the upcoming Blue Ray technology, which offers 30+ Gb/disc.
Likewise with your CD/DVD media. Those Warehouse 50-on-a-spindle deals for $45 plus a free romantic-weekend-for-2-in-the-Lubyanka are rarely archival. Again a name brand (Delkin, Sony, Verbatim, and Imation) is more likely to give you a reliable and archival result. Reason: the image is burned into a dye layer on the disc by a laser. Cheap media use poor-quality dyes which may lead to unreliable burns and, worse still, a short shelf life for your data. Remember once you have burned to go through your files and open a few, to check that the burn has worked properly. If possible, set your burning software to verify. That way it checks source data against recorded data to make sure the burn has gone successfully.
Make sure you store your discs in a cool dark dry place (that cuts out the beer fridge!) and in jewel cases.
What ever and however you do it, you need to have a safe place to store your data. Many pros back up to at least 3 different forms of media, e.g. dual DVD copies as well as HDD. While this may seem excessive, you will thank yourself, if you lose 2 and the 3rd is there to dig you out of the c&*p. If possible, store 1 copy off-site.
You need to develop a regime for reliable backup and storage. Everybody has their own idea of how to do it. The process from downloading to archiving is commonly referred to as a digital workflow. I will deal with that in the next post.
Ka kite ano