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Workflow and Archiving Suggestions
Amanda Hansmeyer, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 12:39 PM on 06.23.10
->> I have realized how inefficient my work-flow and archiving system is. And, I am curious what others are doing. Any advice on my system would be much appreciated!

Currently, I ingest my whole take into PhotoMechanic (saving the take to the desktop), then edit, and make a separate folder of the edit with renamed files. I import the edit into Lightroom, and tone in Lightroom. Then, I backup everything to an external drive. When it comes to saving the photos, I burn DVD's of both the whole raw take, as well as the digital negative files exported from Lightroom. Do you guys still burn DVD's, or are you mostly backing up to hard drives now, and online archives? Do you keep both the raw files, and digital negatives? Thanks! - Amanda
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 12:53 PM on 06.23.10
->> I found the DAM Book by Peter Krogh to be invaluable for establishing a coherent digital workflow and archiving system that will stand the test of time ... though software choices and advancements may change, building the foundation is quite important. The book is available at for less than $32.00 and a worthy investment IMHO ...
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Amanda Hansmeyer, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 1:05 PM on 06.23.10
->> Thanks Butch! I will check that out.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 1:39 PM on 06.23.10
->> Backing up to external hard drives is very risky in my opinion. I have a stack of hard drives that went dark on me. Although Western Digitals seem to be more reliable than most others, nothing works like DVDs. They have the 8 gig versions out now, which makes it easier, and the super expensive Blue Rays at 22 gig capacity, but I would not count on a hard drive of any configuration as a backup.
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Harrison Shull, Photographer
Fayetteville, WV | Asheville, NC | | Posted: 1:52 PM on 06.23.10
->> Phil, interesting take? I have heard and subscribe to the opposite. Of course, archiving is not a cut-and-dried "only one way to do it" proposition.

I have had way more dvd/cd failures than hard drives. Most of my foundational research - DAM Book and two D65 workshops - seemed to indicate that hard drives are preferred over any optical disk media. The per MB/GB data cost is better on HDs and the ability to access larger chunks of data per storage unit is also nice.

My system works for me. I have my archive primarily available on a dedicated SATA onboard hard drive. Then I duplicate this drive with Retrospect to a second hard drive stored onsite in a firesafe. And then I create another identical third copy on a hard drive stored offsite. Backups with Retrospect are fast and automated.

I have little fear of three physically separate HDs going out at the same time. I do not trust optical media to open reliably years down the road if and when I need them to.

My $0.02, but could be worth less
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 1:53 PM on 06.23.10
->> Phil ... there really isn't a lesser of evils when comparing backup medium types ... the potential data loss is quite equal across the board regardless of which avenue you choose as they are all capable of failure ... I have had several DVD's that after a few months or so that were not readable in any optical drive on any computer ... but tested perfectly when burned ... and they were without scratches and stored properly in the interim ..... fortunately I still had that data on external HD's to work with.

I use a three tier system of external hard drives using a trayless drive housing for swapping drives as needed .... One is the working image storage drive, a second drive to which backups are automated daily, or done manually after large shoots or extended work sessions ... then a third copy is kept off site and backed up weekly or as needed ... I've been using this system (over 4TB in all) for the past three years and yet to lose any data from a drive failure .... YMMV of course ...
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John Lariviere, Photographer
Tigard | OR | USA | Posted: 2:24 PM on 06.23.10
->> Here is another perspective >

Chase has invested seriously in hardware to support an excellent archiving strategy. If you don't have the capital to support such an approach, think how you can scale to manager your comfortable level of risk. Because it's all about managing your exposure to risk.
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Brian Dowling, Photographer
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 2:34 PM on 06.23.10
->> The thing with externals is to shut them down properly before unplugging. This can be a real problem when your computer goes to sleep. I actually keep mine off at all times and not connected by usb to my computer unless I'm using it for transfer/backing up.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 3:13 PM on 06.23.10
->> Great link John ... Chase has always had a knack for down to earth straight forward explanations on how to get the job done ... very nice of him to share his workflow/backup strategy ..
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Northwest Missouri | MO | USA | Posted: 3:19 PM on 06.23.10
->> I don't agree with Phil entirely. Hard drives aren't the only way to back up. But neither are disks.

Multiple copies is the best protection regardless of media.

We use a RAID and we archive on two different types of recordable disk media. Each event is archived twice on disk. I've found an instance where we forgot to even burn one of the disks so it's not flawless. We also tend to keep a second copy of our images on a single hard drive.

In short: 2 different recordable disks and 2 types of hard drives are our method.

Our biggest vulnerability is that we don't have any off-site storage at work.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 4:47 PM on 06.24.10
->> Great debate; It's a case of lesser evils, I think. It's interesting to note that the universal recommendation to back up is based on the reality that a hard drive can go bad at any time. To back up TO a hard drive, especially placing huge amounts of data on one drive (too-many-eggs-in-one-basket syndrome), is risky in my opinion. Backing up to a DVD, while it's true that these can go bad, or become unreadable, if that happens, you don't have 500gigs or 1tb of information exposed to a loss. You might have one disk gone bad out of a shoot. The 4 to 8gigs of info exposed to loss is much less than 500 gigs or 1tb going down at one whack. And yes, DVDs deteriorate after 5 or 6 years, but if you replace those, you're reducing that risk. In any case, I do agree with the strategy of backing up to multiple copies.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 5:07 PM on 06.24.10
->> Phil, I participate in/monitor/read a wide variety of forums frequented by a spectrum of folks from artistic types to hard-core IT techies. The vast majority consider hard drives to be the most stable media. Currently, the only serious debate seems to be what is the best type/brand/configuration of hard drive.

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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 5:23 PM on 06.24.10
->> It's really not a matter of how many eggs you keep in one basket .... but how many baskets you keep your eggs in ... whether that is a couple hundred 4GB DVD's or a pair of 1TB drives .... If you have enough copies of everything ... you're going to be ok in the end ...I have two spare duplicate drives for every drive I use with one drive kept off-site. The odds of all three drives failing simultaneously are very slim ... as compared to a binder or drawer of DVD's that could all be damaged simultaneously very easily .... Also time is a factor .... there are a lot of hours involved in burning DVD's .... You can purchase a quality 1TB drive for less than $75 with free shipping .... factor in the time it takes to burn one DVD multiplied by the number of DVD's needed per year .... and I'll have to burn them again .... not too long down the road .... considering my backup drives are updated seamlessly in the background while I'm doing other work (or overnight while I'm sleeping) saving all that valuable time ....

Neither method is wrong .... and each offers their own set of redundancy and risks .... Ideally though ... as Peter Krogh recommends in his book, both backup drives AND optical media should both be used ... I just gave up on the optical discs for the time factor ....
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 6:47 PM on 06.24.10
->> Hmmm... Good points, Butch... time to rethink.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 10:39 PM on 06.24.10
->> Given I've had one too many DVDs thrown away versus an external hard drive(s) that haven't failed yet I would rather take my chances on a hard drive. And with that a larger volume of work at your fingertips rather than popping a DVD in and out of your disk drive which can't come close to holding as much work.

I keep a "to archieve" folder on my desktop with all the images from an event, but then also every out take from a preliminary edit is saved seperately. Its a good idea then to later upload those out takes at full resolution size to an online source off site in case you loose your images for whatever reason, a fire, equipment stolen, accidently deleted...

I don't see an issue with your workflow Amanda other than I would prefer using Photoshop to tweek an image and saving your keepers online will give you some more peace of mind in the long run.
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Alan Herzberg, Photographer
Elm Grove | WI | USA | Posted: 9:41 AM on 06.25.10
->> Just a reminder that if you are processing files in Lightroom, be sure to backup your LR catalog. Additionally, make sure it is being backed up on a drive other than the drive the original catalog is on.

I backup to two hard drives, one on site and one off site about 4 miles away. I figure if one drive fails, it's pretty unlikely the other one is going to fail before I am able to create a replacement for the failed drive.

Depending on where you live and how vulnerable you feel to natural disasters - tornado, hurricane, earthquake, flood - I can see where you might want to keep a third backup either online or even further removed from the original than I do. I'm probably going to begin storing an additional set online somewhere.

I used to burn DVDs but aside from concerns about their reliability, it takes way, way more time than copying files to another hard drive.
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Dominick Reuter, Photographer, Assistant
Boston | MA | USA | Posted: 11:45 AM on 06.25.10
->> At this point, with the abundance and affordability of multi-drive storage, the bare minimum local archive should be at least a RAID 1 set or better. Anything else - single drive, RAID 0, optical - with zero fault tolerance is not worth the risk, and budget is no longer an excuse.

After that, your personal level of geographic redundancy is up to your budget. Alternating automatic backup drives like the one in the Jarvis vid work well, but I favor the solution offered by photoshelter.

Photoshelter's "bulletproof" system was one of the main selling points for me three years ago, and although I can't afford to upload every single raw file I shoot, I do regularly upload selected full-resolution files as part of my workflow. In that way, I trust photoshelter to be the safest location to store my best pictures.

Is there a risk in outsourcing your archive solution? Those who dealt with DigitalRailroad will say yes, but for now, the pros at photoshelter have a scientifically better program in place than anything I could put together on my own -- that is until I'm as loaded as Jarvis.
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Philip Johnson, Photographer
Garland | TX | USA | Posted: 12:13 PM on 06.25.10
->> Has anyone ever contacted the National Archives, to see what they recommend? I'm guessing they have the same issues and are testing all the different ways to archive digital material.
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Steve Boyle, Photographer
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 12:31 PM on 06.25.10
->> I'll share my method...

I back up each shoot for the current calendar year in 3 places. Once on PhotoShelter (I have 1TB of space there), once on an internal 1TB drive in my MacPro (which is backed up via Time Machine) and once on a Drobo.

When a new year rolls around, I buy a 2TB RAID drive copy the entire year to it and put it at the parents house. I buy another 2TB RAID and box it up and put in it a filing cabinet. The Drobo has everything is able to be plugged in anytime. I delete old files on PhotoShelter and upload new ones, keeping it under 1TB online.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 12:45 PM on 06.25.10
->> Keep 'em coming. I have been the victim of data loss before and I intend to avoid it. Right now, I have every thing on an external USB (self powered) and on multiple external HDs. As one fills, I use another. I generally always save straight to the external and backup to the other HD I have in a static environment. I also burn DVDs of the original and edited files for the images that are keepers. Then there is also the upload to one of my site. Exposure Manager isn't very adaptable in the sales world, but I started there and for $99 a year, I get UNLIMITED storage. Just shot a ballet recital and uploaded 8gig worth of stuff there.

Honestly, since everyone wants redundancy, EM might be a decent alternative. They have direct and FTP uploads, it is $99 a year for unlimited storage and I don't think you really even have to set up a retail site. They are built that way, to sell photos, that is how they make their money. Until they charge for storage, I think $99 a year is a good deal for another level of redundancy.

But I am open to any idea to save me the pain of losing images.
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Amanda Hansmeyer, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 10:32 AM on 06.28.10
->> Wow, thanks Everyone! I have learned so much for this thread, so thank you for sharing your processes! I realized that I am really not doing enough when it comes to backing up my images. I will be switching to do two more backups on external hard drives (at least), and will probably still continue burning DVDs as well (even though the DVD burning is so time consuming). Thanks John for the link to Chase's post! This was so educational for me. And I plan on keeping it to refer back to. Also, thanks for the reminder about backing up my Lightroom to an external hard drive Alan. I don't do that enough. I also didn't realize how important it is to shut down and unplug external drives properly!

I have used PhotoShelter for galleries, but not as a full archive. I will need to research that, as well as if Exposure Manager would be a good archiving site for me.

Thanks so much everyone. This message board has been such an important resource for me.
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Thread Title: Workflow and Archiving Suggestions
Thread Started By: Amanda Hansmeyer
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