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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Archiving Images...CD/DVD vs Hard Drives
JC Ridley, Photographer
Davie | FL | USA | Posted: 1:36 PM on 04.07.04
->> How many of you have given up archiving your images to CD's/DVD's in favor of large hard drives? I'm seriously considering such a move, as I've discovered some flaws in some CD's I burned around 5 years ago.
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Jim Burgess, Photographer
Gainesville | FL | US | Posted: 1:44 PM on 04.07.04
->> You weren't specific about the type of hard drive, so unless you are going to use a system with built-in redundancy like RAID, what are your plans to handle the ultimate failure of the hard drive? It will fail.
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 1:55 PM on 04.07.04
->> I bought the following:

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=75

250 gigs external, with backup software and front-panel buttons that activate it. I only turn it on once a week to do a backup, push the button on the front and go to sleep. In the morning I check for any errors and then turn it off. I use an internal 120 gig drive to work with the images, the external is strictly for backup.

Hard drives WILL fail. But by only running it for a few hours a week, it'll be a looooong time before I start approaching the MTBF, and since the original data is still on internal drive, I do have a redundant store of the images. Plus, turning it off prevents damage from a potential virus attack.
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Nick Doan, Photographer, Student/Intern
Scottsdale | AZ | USA | Posted: 1:57 PM on 04.07.04
->> I've just been archiving to a Hard Drive. I've been looking for a more permanent solution, but I only run my hard drive a couple of hours every few weeks to archive my stuff.

Yes, the drive will fail, but it's rated for thousands of hours. If kept relatively dust free, and moisture free, it should run for a long time.

Redundancy is key, and I'm looking for a Tape or DVD storage solution that is easy to manage and not too expensive. It is our responsibility to keep good archives. But, when determining the solution, you nreally need to weigh the risk of losing the data versus the cost of your archive solution. At this time, a $250 external harddrive that is made from a reputable manufacturer seems like a decent solution. Later when the 8GB DVDs writers are released, this might be a good solution for a more permanent backup.

But, unless anybody else can offer a solution that is as easy to manage and as inexpensive; I would love to hear it. (telling me that this solution is poor doesn't solve my problem; offer me advice on a better way.)
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Ian Elliott, Photographer
Junction City | OR | USA | Posted: 2:07 PM on 04.07.04
->> Sebastian,

Do you have MTBF information from the mfg? I think that is not published data. Also I believe you need the MTTF not the MTBF.

:}

Ian
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 2:36 PM on 04.07.04
->> Ian,

The data is published for their enterprise drives. The lower-end drives get "Component Design Life" ratings, as well as "Annualized Failure Rate." The info can be found in the knowledge base.

And yes, I did mean "Mean Time Between Failures"... :)

This info used to be in all the manuals and info, and used to be up there in the hundreds of thousand of hours. So, to go back to my original point, turning a HD on for a few hours a week greatly maximizes its life expectancy compared to a drive that runs 24 hours a day, like my PCs do.
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Ian Elliott, Photographer
Junction City | OR | USA | Posted: 2:51 PM on 04.07.04
->> Sebastian,

Sebastian,

I do not disagree, but if you turn off the HD ever time then the system is booted from cold every time. As you know that is hard on the system mechanically. Since the HD is considered non reparable, from a cost stand point, the time to the first failure what is important, not time between failures. There may not be an opportunity for a second failure.

Therefor Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) is more important (for non repairable devices), than is Mean Time Between Failure MTBF.

My $0.02

Cheers.....

Ian
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 3:10 PM on 04.07.04
->> AH, I see what you're saying now. No idea where to find info on first failure though.

I don't think the cold boot is all that damaging. Yes, it puts slightly more stress on the sytem than when the hard drive is spinning, but I think that is insignificant to the damage that can be caused by a virus or simple user error. People usually turn their machines off every night, and even with that the hard drives last for years. I think averaging 52 cold boots a year will buy me plenty of time. :)

That's real-world use though, technically you are correct, but I don't think it's worth worrying about. I think heat, more than anything, causes the most damage to hard drives. At 7200 or 10,000 RPM those things really do need adequate cooling to operate for extended periods of time. Ah, screw it, so many different things go into keeping computers running their best that we could waste a whole day going back and forth. :)

Ultimately, neither HD nor DVD si the ultimate backup solution. Redundancy is key, whatever method one chooses. :D
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Tim Williams, Photographer
Evansville | IN | USA | Posted: 3:11 PM on 04.07.04
->> I owned part of a computer store for four years, and we would have hard drives fail after a few days, a week, 5 years, or in batches (several from the same shipment)...

Some brands (IBM, Seagate and Western Digital) are better than others (Maxtor, Quantum and JTS-Champ). But then we'd get a run of bad WD's for no reason at all.

Anyway it is a mechanical device. It will fail.

Better brands of CD's DVD's (I like Verbatim and Sony) are better than others (Staples brand and Jensen) -- try to burn a Jensen CD at 40X and see if you get a coaster or your data :-)

$60 of DVD's (spindle of 50) will get you up to 235 GB of storage, and will last nearly forever if you keep them out of heat (I had a warped one the other day laying in the car seat!)

Those are my thoughts...
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Michael Strong, Photographer
Lubbock | TX | USA | Posted: 3:21 PM on 04.07.04
->> I setup a file server for a fellow photographer. He has 560GB in a raid 5 array all available online.
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Ian Elliott, Photographer
Junction City | OR | USA | Posted: 3:42 PM on 04.07.04
->> Hard drives fail for many reasons. With fly heights approaching 0.5 micro inches it does not take much. Thermal asparities can cause the head to crash. These "bumps" in the platter hit the head causing it to crash. Angular acceleration can get very high during start up, and that is when it will hit. Pits in the substrate cause additional problems during chemical polishing of the platters.

We are now seeing 100 angstrom scratches in the platter that can cause problems on high density platters. These are very delicate devices. By the way most desktop platters are nickel plated aluminum (95 mm diam, 31.5 mils thick), whereas the laptops are trending toward glass as the the material of choice for the platters. Look for MMC to hit soon (Metal Matrix Composites).

Cheers....

Ian
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 3:49 PM on 04.07.04
->> As someone who's been working in and managing tech support for desktops, servers and backups for 20+ years, I gotta jump in.

MTBF, or similar measurements, are based on a statistical sampling of many hard drives the manufacturer stress tests to accelerate the failure of the drives. The number given is based on the average time it took for the drives to fail under those stressful conditions.

There's two problems with trusting their numbers. The first is that it's an average, and averages mean some drives die more quickly and others die more slowly, but, they do die. If ten drives die in one year but one dies within 30 minutes, they'll toss out the outlier and say a MTBF of one year. I just hope I don't get a clone of that one due to a bad production run in some subassembly.

The other problem is that in their testing they subject the drive to extremes of heat/cold, vibration/shock, and hopefully are constantly reading/writing/verifying the data flow. But some bytes stored on a disk don't fail that read/write/verify test instantly. Sometimes it takes hours or days before the byte drops a bit. That sort of problem is catastrophic if it occurs in a directory structure and will probably be encountered quickly, but inside a file it might go for a long time before being detected. Either way, the byte is lost.

So, whether your drive achieves the published MTBF is really a crapshoot, but you're foolish to trust the numbers since it's your data that is lost; They might replace a drive that fails within warranty, but they won't put your data back.

As was mentioned before, cycling the power on a drive is hard on it. Keep the power on all the time so the disk is spinning. Don't subject the drive to vibration or shock or temperature extremes, and you'll probably get better life from it.

But, don't treat it as the end-all backup for your data. Redundancy is the name of the game. I have a 300GB external I use as temporary storage, and then archive to CDs or DVDs depending on the size of the project. Odds are better that one of those mediums (hard drive or CD/DVD) will be readable in case the other fails and I have to restore.

The use of a drive array (RAID 5 especially) is a great alternative, but it's an expensive alternative.

You have to decide how much risk you want to take with your images. The majority of us keep a lot of images that we'll never need again; Technically they're good images, but weren't useful immediately. So they get stored and take up space on our backups and probably should have been trashed but, well, we don't "because we might need them." There's a few that have immediate value that we pay particular attention to, and make a more determined attempt to protect. But, every once in a while one of those underappreciated images needs to be found because it turns out to be a money maker. And, that's what you have to consider when you build your backup strategy; How much is it worth to you to be able to recover those underappreciated files?

Just my $0.02 and your mileage might vary.
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 3:56 PM on 04.07.04
->> Heya Nick,

Re: using a single drive for backup. Consider purchasing a second drive and duplicating them. There are ways of setting it up with simple software RAID that will automatically write to both. PCs, Macs and Linux can all do that.

Then take one offline after you've backed up, so if you accidently delete/overwrite or corrupt a file on one, you don't clobber the second.
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 4:00 PM on 04.07.04
->> Hey Ian,

We were just talking about LaCie's terabyte external announcement, and speculating about the eventual minaturization ... I don't know if they'll hit compact-flash size because of quantum physics stepping in, but it's a fun idea to consider.

At that disk capacity, backups become even more difficult and a failure more costly. What a wild ride it is!
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 4:07 PM on 04.07.04
->> Very educational thread, thanks guys. Redundancy is key, as is being said over and over.
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Andy Mead, Photographer, Photo Editor
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 4:26 PM on 04.07.04
->> I'm a lifelong programmer/computer geek. I burn everything to two CDs, with the second set at another photogs house. Then I reburn all the photos onto DVDs - again as duplicate sets. I also buy name-brand media (the only failures I've had came from some cheap no-name media). At Best Buy I can get the name brand CDs for 0.20/ea and DVDs for $1/ea. I end up with 4 archival sets of everything - with two of them off-site. Plus I tend to keep about six months of work on either my home system or my laptop.

One word of warning. Don't use paper labels on CDs. Someone sent me a radio program on CD about 4 years ago. I recently ripped all of my CDs onto my home computer (which acts as a jukebox into my stereo!) and that disc was completely warped. Over time the label has shrunk and since there's more paper towards the outside of the disc, the disc is now more of a cone, and has been rendered unreadable in any of my drives. I currently have it under a bunch of heavy books...
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JC Ridley, Photographer
Davie | FL | USA | Posted: 4:30 PM on 04.07.04
->> I see many comments on Hard Drive failures, but not about CD/DVD failures.

It goes without saying you should back up in more than one location. Thankfully I've been backing up to two or more CD's from the start, and the 2nd CD is saving my tail on some of these old discs. FYI-Maxell is failing me more than any other brand, some of their "Gold" discs are even flaking.

My thought is to fill two HD's, one being an internal HD to be stored in a safe deposit box. Once its filled it would rest until a backup file would need to be accessed.

I'm finding now that quickly accessing files is becoming more difficult with over a thousand CD's archived.

Do any of you use RAID and if so, what level? Obviously Raid Level 0 is not an option. Although I'm interested in RAID it would solve a fire/theft disaster.
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Ian Elliott, Photographer
Junction City | OR | USA | Posted: 4:40 PM on 04.07.04
->> Greg,

Areal densities are going through the roof on platters now. If you have never seen these manufactured, it is phenomenal to see. At these high densities, you have to work at the sub-atomic level. I have seen production testing with SEM's and x-ray diffraction microscopes. Disks need to spin faster, flatter and be smoother than ever though possible before. Raw aluminum platters (Blanks) are coming in with sub-microm flatness with thickness control at 50 millionth of an inch. And that is just the raw stock. At that level, contact measurement is not possible. All gaging is done with non-contact measuring devices.

Inspection of platters is done robotically with AI robots. No human eye ever sees them (there is nothing to see with the eye anyway). AOI or Automated Optical Inspection is the only way you can process 5,000 platters per hour per AOI machine.

It truly is incredible

Ian
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 4:45 PM on 04.07.04
->> JC, I use RAID level 1 in my on-site box, two 100 gig drives.

I use it so if a drive fails on location we can still continue working with minimal downtime. I do not use it for backup, it is too easy to accidentally delete files or to be hit by a virus, neither of which are stopped by RAID, you would just lose data on TWO drives instead of one...

I second your thought to fill up an internal HD while backing up to an external and then puttin gthose aside when full and replacing them with newer drives. I use the same method, one internal 120 gig, with an external 250 gig. This gives you the same protection as RAID, but the added benefit of only being online occassionally.
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Wesley R. Bush, Photographer
Smyrna | TN | U.S. | Posted: 4:50 PM on 04.07.04
->> How exactly do CDs and DVDs break down? I keep mine in a soft-cloth folder and don't pack them tight or move them around alot. How do they lose their information over time? I plan on backing the CDs up later, but I'm pretty tight on cash.
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Andy Mead, Photographer, Photo Editor
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 5:04 PM on 04.07.04
->> Light, heat, temperature change in general, and humidity are the enemies of archival CDs.

In other words, don't keep them in the attic. Keep them in a cool ventilated - dark closet and they should last for decades.
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JC Ridley, Photographer
Davie | FL | USA | Posted: 5:07 PM on 04.07.04
->> "According to the Dutch magazine PC Active some CD-Rs degrade in months, even at room temperature without sunlight."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/09/01/cdrs_deliver_degrading_experience/
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Tim Williams, Photographer
Evansville | IN | USA | Posted: 7:59 PM on 04.07.04
->> JC: it's just all the THC in their local atmosphere...
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Worth Canoy, Photographer
High Point | NC | USA | Posted: 8:40 PM on 04.07.04
->> Very informative...for a change.
I burn cd/dvd each week and back up to external hard drive.
Problem is that I am now on my THIRD dead Maxtor external drive. (I have bought my last one).
When I receive the replacement from them, I can re-create the backup, but it will take me all day to copy a years worth of cds onto it...
As far as RAID drives...I used to be a firm believer in them, for speed,etc. But a year or so ago ONE drive in my raid system failed and you guessed it I LOST EVERYTHING ON THE RAID.
It seeems there is no correct answer, as in everything, we are at the mercy of the machine. Failure is inevitable.
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Stephen Voss, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 9:17 PM on 04.07.04
->> Can anyone recommend any specific brands of DVDs? I know w/ CDs that Mitsui Gold was the way to go, and I haven't heard much about the best quality of DVDs.
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Keith Simonian, Photographer
Lafayette | CA | USA | Posted: 9:45 PM on 04.07.04
->> JC, you didn't mention whether all the info was lost, or just some of it? Also, was there the same problem with the second copy you burned at the same time?

Also I noticed you live in Florida, I hear it can be a tad humid there. I would bet that shortens the life of a CD greatly.

That said, as many others on this thread mentioned, A HARD DRIVE WILL FAIL. What you find out when they do, is that the fee to capture the data runs from $1000 to $3000.

Sorry I don't have a solution, other than moving to a climate with normal/lower humidity.
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JC Ridley, Photographer
Davie | FL | USA | Posted: 10:24 PM on 04.07.04
->> Keith - Just some of the info on the CD's was lost, others were accessable. when I retrieved the backup CD's from Michigan (summer home), those were fine.

Although I've lived primarily in South Florida for over 16 years, being a "Northern Boy" my air conditioning runs non-stop.

Worth - There are RAID levels that will save ALL your data if one of your drives crash. You want to avoid Level 1 RAID.
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JC Ridley, Photographer
Davie | FL | USA | Posted: 10:27 PM on 04.07.04
->> Tim - I'm not sure computer geeks know what "THC" is...but I see (or smell) your point!
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 12:14 AM on 04.08.04
->> I'm confused, why would one want to avoid Level 1 RAID? I can see striping, level 0, being bad, but why would level 1 (mirroring) be bad?
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Nick Doan, Photographer, Student/Intern
Scottsdale | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:25 AM on 04.08.04
->> Mirroring is for performance,not redundancy. The problem with a mirror is that if you screw up something on the primary, the mirror also gets screwed up. (because the mirror automatically copies whatever you do to the primary) The only way a mirror provides redundancy is in the case that one drive experiences a hardware failure. (ie, it can be considered redundant with respect ot hardware, but it is not redundant with respect to data integrity)



Greg,

The second drive isn't a bad idea, and I might consider it, but I think I might be more comfortable with DVD backups (if I can figure out this Thumbplus software.)
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 12:36 AM on 04.08.04
->> Nick,

I understand that a mirror will be an exact dupicate, that's why I mentioned in my previous post that I don't use it, just in case something messes with the data integrity. But what level of RAID is better? Seems to me that if you're going with RAID, mirroring is your best bet. Obviously there are better solutions, but those are not using RAID. Or am I comletely missing something here?
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Nick Doan, Photographer, Student/Intern
Scottsdale | AZ | USA | Posted: 10:52 AM on 04.08.04
->> Sebastian,

In this case, I believe that JC is talkign about a Level 5 RAID. Level 5 requires more than two disks, but it creates a parity stripe across each disk. Should one of the disks Fail, the system would use the information from the Parity stripe to rebuild all the data once the hardware is replaced.

The most redundant systems would be a mirrored RAID5. I always chose to build systems with Level 0+1 that gave the greatest performance, and provided a phyiscal redundancy, but I also used DLT backup systems on those.

All of these solutions are quite expensive though, and I can't justify that kindof expense right now. A $500 solution is much easier to handle than a $3500 solution. But, then comes the issue of building the system and maintaining it, and being able to recover from any failures. And, that is where the greater complication becomes the greatest detriment.
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 11:48 AM on 04.08.04
->> I understand, thanks for clarifying.

I see it the same way, you have to weigh cost vs. performance.

Thanks Nick.
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Daniel Tunstall, Photographer
Pearland | TX | USA | Posted: 12:31 PM on 04.08.04
->> I am going the way of Andy Mead, partially. I burn plain old CDs of every shoot x 2. Why not DVD? I don't have one. But, with less data per disk, and redundancy, I feel safe. When I deleted the first sets of files totally off my computer drive, it was a funny feeling...
I plan on updating CPUs and when I do I will burn DVDs of the CDs and then eventually go to DVD only.
I just don't have the bucks for a RAID system. I am putting my money toward camera gear and CF cards!
I look up to those who have the elaborate back up systems and data bases...
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 04.08.04
->> Folks, I gotta say, after what seemed like a couple weeks of less-informative discussions, this one has pegged my inform-o-meter.

Re: internal vs. external drives for backup. Part of a backup/disaster-recovery plan is the discussion about recovering the old data. The drive (tape, CD/DVD, or hard-disk) has to be physically, AND electronically compatible with the computer system you're trying to connect it to, or you'll never reach the data, and it'll be worthless to you then. (You wouldn't believe the suggestions we used to get about archiving old IBM PCs and SCSI tape drives just to be able to recover old data.)

So, if those internal drives use an out-of-date method of connecting to the computer bus, then they'll be worthless once you upgrade that system. I strongly recommend using a FireWire or USB type external device rather than rely on an internal drive for any backup strategy.

Nick, right on dude! Mirrored RAID 5! That, along with full tape backups is how we do it in our data centers. We do both DVD and CD backups. I had to backup 26 GB of images and sound from an hour DVD slideshow. That forced my adding DVD to the mix!

Ian, I used to work at Motorola's flagship wafer fab in Chandler Az. Robotics were the name of the game because of the copper-technology and wafer sizes and density. They tried to use robots as much as possible since we humans are the primary cause of contaminants. :-) Yeah, it's incredible the minaturization that's occuring. I remember when we thought a disk head flying the width of a hair above the platter was amazing. (Well, I also remember 8-inch floppies and 5.25 "flippies")
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Erik Seo, Photographer
Park City | UT | USA | Posted: 2:49 PM on 04.08.04
->> OK, so now you guys got me finally thinking about backup. I'd be screwed since I'm shooting almost 99% digital these days. I would like to know more about CD-R life and failure for now, I'm planning on going to a weekly tape backup for specific storage folders on my computer.

What would the super geeky guys suggest on tape drives? I'm thinking tape for a few reasons, but mainly since, well it seems that every storage or data-based buisness runs backups on tape. To me that says everything about the way to go. Also if I remember correctly, tape is rather cost effective. Not archival since it's magnetic tape, but if I'm doing weekly backups (or more often depending on a super-important shoot happens mid-week) then I'd only ever be a week or two out on backup. Of course a monthly backup of say my photo storage directories wouldn't hurt on to dvd or cd as well.

Suggestions on tape drives and media?
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Michael Stevens, Photographer
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 3:43 PM on 04.08.04
->> Actually Nick is not talking about a mirrored RAID 5 but a mirrored RAID 0 (I think it's 0: stripe, no parity). RAID 10 (or 1+0 or 0+1) is quickest & most redundant.

RAID 5 is great because it's failsafe: one drive dies ... no sweat. But the cost of the redundancy is performance. The RAID processor has to recalculate the parity data for each write which slows the array. Granted not a lot but ...

Also, with RAID 5 you lose some storage. RAID 5 requires at least 3 drives and the parity data used to make it fault tolerant takes up roughly the space of one drive. If you stripe 3 9 gig drives you have roughly 18 gigs of storage because of the parity data. For the capacity of a RAID 5 array just add all the space up and then subtract the capacity of 1 drive.

RAID 10 is two non-parity stripes that are mirrored to each other. You have the speed of a stripe with the redundancy of a mirror.

BTW, for those that don't know, stripes are not only faul tolerant but they are FASTER for most tasks, especially vs. single drives, because data is being read from all the drives in the array at the same time ... theoretically. On my current machine, which is quite old, (dual P3 with 768 meg of ram with a DPT U2 3 channel RAID card) I can open a 90 meg PhotoShop file in roughly 8 seconds.

With all that out of the way I'll tell you how I'm setup:

3 separate arrays. The first 12 gig array holds my OS & program files. The second & third arrays of 18 & 36 gigs hold data. On top of that I have a Western Digital 80 gig IDE drive inside. Photos go to the second stripe where I sort them, throw out all the missed shots, rotate them ... etc. Then I burn 'em to a DVD and then move them to the IDE drive. The WD drive holds way too much to back up on DDS3 so I don't worry about it. It's pretty much just storage for "recent" shoots so my arrays aren't filling up too quickly and so I can access those shots without having to dig out the DVDs. I'm working on getting a fireproof safe to store the DVDs, negs, & tape backups in but haven't got around to it yet.

Once a month I backup all three arrays to DDS3 tape and at least once a week, if not more, I do a differential backup to catch all the new files since the "main" backup.

One other thing that came to mind regarding data loss is the formats used. I can't count the number of JPGs I've lost due to 1 or 2 bytes dying. I'll see it start to load and from the bad pixel on the JPG is garbage. I've never had this happen with a TIFF and only once with a PSD in over 12 years. So, it would be wise to keep photos on your HD as TIFFs. No, I don't do it but I've got copies on DVD and any file that I've had to screw with gets saved as a PSD file so I'm fairly set there.

Also, I've been running these same arrays for 4 to 7 years (depending on the array; the first 12 gig array is the oldest and as I needed more space I just made a new array. The 36 gig is the newest array). Last year is when I decided to get the IDE for extra temporary, non-critical storage. In those 4 to 7 years I have had only one SCSI drive fail (a drive in the oldest array). I've also had one channel on my RAID card fail. It actually still works but after shitting on me twice and having to call tech support and have them walk me through the process of rebuilding the array while keeping the data intact I decided I simply won't use that channel. In much less than a year the WD is already going out on me.

Yeah, probably a faulty WD disk but there may be a reason that SCSI drives are more expensive ...

But, in short, and in response to the thread title "Archiving Images...CD/DVD vs Hard Drives" you should use both. If you can only afford one solution go the CD/DVD route. Sure they MAY fail, probably not, but they last for 20+ years and the failure rate is not high. You won't find a HD that will run for 20 years without failure. Also buy Name Brand media and I even go so far as to only buy Name Brand burners. I've got Sony CD & Sony DVD burners and use only Fuji CDs & DVDs. Never had one fail.

And, for those that might like a ton of storage with the inexpensiveness of IDE look for the newer 4-6 channel IDE RAID cards (
http://www.promise.com/product/product_detail_eng.asp?productId=84&familyId...). Imagine plugging a bunch of cheap IDE drives into that for some serious storage.

-> SEBASTIAN,

That WD unit looks pretty cool. Whad'ja pay for it? How does the card reader work? Does it show up as two diffrent drives, a hard drive & removable? I don't know that I would need the "Dual Option Media Center" version but the "Dual Option Drive" itself looks appealing.

-> ERIK,

CDR & DVD life is supposed to be something in the neighborhood of 20+ years life expectancy. I haven't seen anything lately about it, though, so my memory might be failing me.

As for tape drives it just depends on how much you shoot and how quickly/conveniently you want to make the backups. A loooooong time ago I used a TRAVAN 4000 (I think, it was a long time ago). It backs up 4 gigs native/8 gigs compressed. The TRAVAN's aren't terribly quick but they are fairly inexpensive and they work. If I remember correctly, they do not offer hardware compression so you will have to get backup software that does compress.

One thing to remember about tapes: they will all be rated as 4/8, 8/16, 12/24 for native & compressed. If you are backing up mainly JPGs you get very little compression as they are already compressed. So, don't count on much more than the native storage.

I moved up to a DDS3 tape which is 12/24 capacity. It's about a $500-$600 drive and I'm stretching it's capabilities as my backups sometimes span 2 or 3 tapes but the next step up is something like a $1000-$1200 drive. Tapes for the DDS3 are fairly cheap. I just got a 10 pack for $55 from CDW.com. That's 120 gigs for $55 or 45¢ a gig. In relations DVDs are a little more than $1 a piece so you're talking a little more than 21¢ a gig.

As for speed, I don't remember how quick the TRAVANs were but the DD3 will backup and entire 12/24 tape, and verify the data after it's done, in around 4 hours.

One other option you might consider would be backing up to DVD. My Sony DVD burner came with software that will backup to DVDs and it will span the DVDs as well. I would think that if you used +/-RW disks you might have a solution that's cheaper than tape and also lets you burn "normal" DVDs as well.

Mike (that wasn't supposed to be that long)
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Sebastian Szyszka, Photographer
Warrenville | IL | USA | Posted: 3:53 PM on 04.08.04
->> Mike,

Any experience with Plextor? I have a SCSI reader and writer that have worked flawlessly for years now.

Anyway, to asnwer your question. The WD unit is pretty cool in the way it interfaces with the PC. It is both firewire and USB 2.0, and it will connect through either. The Hard drive and reader are seperate though. You can either plug in the USB alone and use the reader and HD, or you can plug the HD in through firewire and the reader through USB and get increased throughput over firewire. The reader needs USB to work, and it stays on even if the power to the drive is switched off, as do the firewire and USB hubs. And it has a convenient USB slot on the front which I use often for my USB key.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 6:14 PM on 04.08.04
->> No, never tried Plextor. Had a Yamaha burner that lasted a long time, though. Got a Yamaha here at work, too.

I'm surely being paranoid, or downright dumb, by avoiding non-major label drives but I figure there are enough things that can go wrong when dealing with computers, why throw one more unknown into the mix.

That's the same reason I won't buy anything but an Intel processor. Sure, AMD might be great, maybe even faster in some instances. It's just one more variable I don't wanna deal with.

That does sound like a pretty cool little drive.

Thanks.
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Keith Simonian, Photographer
Lafayette | CA | USA | Posted: 10:22 PM on 04.08.04
->> JC said the CD's in Florida had the problem, and very same CD's stored in Michigan had no problems. It seems to me the problem is the humidity in Florida.

There are two solutions to JC's problem. Lower the humidity in Florida, or lower the humidity where JC stores the CD's in Florida. The second solution is the cheaper of the two.

JC mentioned he runs the AC all the time, while that lowers the temp, I don't think it lowers the humidity. Maybe he should store the CD's in some type of device designed to store wine at a constant temp and humidity. That seems much easier than creating all the backup hard drive systems that were mentioned.

Just my 2¢
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Greg Ferguson, Photographer
Scottsdale | Az | USA | Posted: 10:54 PM on 04.08.04
->> Actually, air conditioners remove humidity as the air moves through the coils. The moisture condenses on the coil and drops to a pan and is then drained outside the unit.

Evaporative coolers would do the opposite, but they're not going to work well when/where the humidity is high already.

In this hell we so affectionately call Phoenix we get pretty familiar with how an AC unit works, especially when it stops working and we have to put in an emergency call at midnight.
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Erik Seo, Photographer
Park City | UT | USA | Posted: 4:32 AM on 04.09.04
->> Damn this is an awesome thread!

Michael, thanks for the advice about the tape drive. It got me thinking, and I think I'm going to go with the DVD burner and backup with rw's. I've been wanting to get a DVD burner for a while now. And when I'm on the road I could even pull my DVD-R drive and put it into my 5.25 USB drive case so I can backup off my laptop as well so I can be super paranoid!

Thanks for the advice! I'll probably go with a Plextor cause of their CDR drive reputation. Do you happen to know of a great DVD-RW drive?
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Bill Ross, Photographer, Assistant
Colorado Springs | CO | USA | Posted: 11:55 AM on 04.09.04
->> I like Firewire/USB external hard drives. That is my short term storage solution. Then, when I get a few hundred hours to spare, I burn CD's and DVD's. Though, I have thought of setting up one of my old computers as a "Photoserver" for my home network.
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Jaren Wilkey, Photographer
Provo | UT | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 04.09.04
->> This is a really important discussion for all of us. I think we neglect our archives more than we should. Here is an interesting link to an Apple story on image archiving at the Smithsonian:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=8723

We purchased a 2.5 Terrabyte X-Serve RAID Array to store our active files on. It's a bit pricey, but how much are your images worth to you? This year alone we've had 3 hard drive failures, one of which we tried to get recovered, unsucessfully.

We run Raid 5 on our Array and we did have a faulty drive go out after a month, but all we did was put another one in and it rebuilt the Array overnight. So far this year we've shot well over 150 GB of data, so I sleep much better at night now knowing I have data backed up on DVDs (1 copy of raw "out of the camera" files and 2 copies of all edited, rotated and captioned files) and on our RAID.
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Bill Knapp, Photographer
Van Nuys | CA | USA | Posted: 7:46 PM on 04.09.04
->> I learned the hard way. Always burn 2 copies of your data, raw files here. Keep one off site and one handy just in case. Because hard drives can go down. Doing some kind of back up will take time. But not having ones images will take more of a toll than you can imange. More on this at
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=8490
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Michael Stevens, Photographer
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 8:04 PM on 04.09.04
->> Erik,

I've got a Sony CDRW & a Sony DVD+/-RW drive and they work great. I don't know to recommend any others but Plextor has been around for a while so I would suspect that their drives are as good as anyone elses.

The components I stay away from are the real generics like you'll find at Fry's Electronics: "Best Data" comes to mind along with the line of "Great Quality" laptops. I'm not saying the off brands are junk, just that there's a reason for the saying "you get what you pay for."

Mike
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Larry Vaughn, Photographer
Gainesville | FL | usa | Posted: 8:52 PM on 04.09.04
->> I read somewhere that Sharpie markers can damage CDs over time. It might be a good idea to write in the center area only.
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Jaren Wilkey, Photographer
Provo | UT | USA | Posted: 1:52 PM on 04.10.04
->> I'm working with Chris Erickson, the BYU Lee Library Digital Preservation Officer, to try and answer some of the questions that have come up in this discussion. One great link he gave me is to the "Technical Advisory Service for Images" which has a lot of data on archiving, here is one page on DVD-R and CD-R Preservation:

http://www.tasi.ac.uk/advice/delivering/cdr-dvdr.html

Read this article! It has great info on how to get the most out of your disks.

Sharpie's are bad for cd's and DVD's because of the alcahol in it, i'll have to find the article on that, but it's best if you don't write anything at all on your CD-R's and DVD's. These disks are extreemely sensitive and they need to be babied if you want them to survive.

I hope that Chris doesn't mind me sharing part of what he wrote me about Digital Storage:

"Most of the information about the longevity of the media are from the manufacturers, but there is more discussion on this in the national arena.  The digital preservation field is still relatively new so much of it is still being worked on.  For preservation media, we (BYU) and the (LDS) Church use only Mitsui Gold CDs and Mitsui Silver DVDs.  They cost a little more, but we feel comfortable with their quality.  Besides quality media, the environment is the most important factor for preservation: cool, dry, pollution free, dark, and stable (fluctuations are the worst). "

Moving one set of our achrives out of a warehouse and into the Library's archive is an option we are looking at. Keeping sets in different places and in an optimal storage enviroment is important.

let me know if you have any specific questions you would like me to pose to Chris.

Jaren Wilkey
BYUPHOTO
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Jaren Wilkey, Photographer
Provo | UT | USA | Posted: 2:18 PM on 04.10.04
->> another quick list:

http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/carefordisc/disccare.html
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Marcy Sutton, Photographer, Student/Intern
Ventura | CA | United States | Posted: 3:23 AM on 04.13.04
->> I got some great advice from PF Bentley about archiving images: Save the files as Tiffs, copy them onto your internal or external hard drive, and then burn two CD's (NOT DVD'S, I have seen them fail at speaker nights). Keep one at home and the other in a bank or safe deposit box. Sharpie pens can deteriorate the CDs...but DVDs can fail altogether! I have found that CD's last longer with labels as protective layering. I guess it all comes from experience...but if you have multiple backups then there are better chances that your images will survive. Until the manufacturers can improve DVD quality, they should not be used for archiving.
Hope that helps!
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