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Outback Photo Handbook: Backup & Archiving

Backup for Photographers: Online Backup Services

article series by Marc Rochkind and Uwe Steinmueller

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Last updated 10/29/2008

10/29/2008 Other Online Option: EMC Mozy Home

Our friend Andreas Waldeck sent us the following note:

"Another option is the service provided by Mozy ( Mozy belongs to EMC Corporation and stores data across multiple data centers around the world. The interesting part is that there is a 2 GB free online service and an unlimited service (yes, unlimited) for USD 4.95 per month.

I am currently using the unlimited service called 'Mozy Home' to store my raw files and derivatives. I have uploaded about 200 GB of RAW files and it works without a hitch so far. Unfortunately my DSL connection is rather slow, so the upload maxes out at around 400 kbit/
s. Uploading vast amounts of data certainly is possible, but be prepared that it takes a while (in my case, a couple of weeks).

However, given that my archive of raw files is an archive and thus doesn't change very often, I found Mozy to be a very good addition to my other backup strategies. For less than 60 USD per year (the price of a hard drive), Mozy is a nice affordable insurance.

Comparing Mozy with Amazon's S3 service, storing 200 GB of data with Amazon's S3 service would have been way more expensive (about 30 USD per month plus 20 USD for uploading the files)."

read below the original article.

Online Backup Services

We dismissed online backup earlier because it wasn't perfect, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea, especially for your most important data, such as irreplaceable digital images.

A widely-used Apple online backup service was part of .Mac, which has since been redesigned and re-launched as MobileMe. You use the Backup utility, which I mentioned above.

Unfortunately, in two years of trying Marc has never gotten Backup to work reliably with .Mac, so he doesn't recommend it. The problem is that when he set it up it would run OK for a few days, then would quit with absolutely no notice whatsoever (other than an obscure log entry in a place), and he never had any idea how to get it started again. A year or so ago, with over 20GB free on his .Mac account, it quit, claiming it was out of space.

Marc doesn't know if the newer backup facilities offered with MobileMe are any better.

The online backup service Marc likes best is Amazon S3. Amazon has designed it to be extremely reliable and available, it's widely supported, and it's very cheap. For example, .Mac used to cost about $6 per GB per month, but S3 is only 15 cents per GB per month, or 13 times cheaper. S3 also charges a transfer fee of 10 cents per GB in, and a bit more coming out; transfer in is what you'd use for backup. If you transfer 50 GB a month, which is a huge amount to transfer online, that's still only $60 per year. (At DSL speeds it would take about a week to transfer 50GB, assuming the line is doing nothing else and your computer stays up for a week.)

Marc uses S3 in three ways:

  • He uses Jungle Disk (available for Windows, OS X, and Linux) to create an S3 virtual drive, and then uses the Mac Finder to copy files to that drive.
  • He uses Jungle Disk's built-in backup program. That works, but Jungle Disk's frequent crashes are annoying. Fortunately, it's pretty smart about picking up where it left off.
  • He uses a Transmit droplet to copy files to S3 while he works.

There are numerous online backup systems for Windows, but probably none are as cheap as S3.

As we've said, S3, or any online storage, is really convenient for small files. For large amounts of data, it's still a good long-term solution, but it takes a lot of time to upload the data. It's worth it, however, for important data that doesn't change. Marc has thousands of photos on S3 that are now backed up by Amazon in addition to the backup he keeps himself (hard drives and DVDs). But it was very troublesome to get them uploaded. Uploads he starts generally freeze or quit after about a day, and have to be restarted.

Uwe does not use any online service right now because his DSL connection is too slow. But as said if your web connection is fast online backup makes a lot of sense.


Backup Overview


Marc Rochkind is the creator of ImageIngester

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