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I have many photographs on my hard disk and am worried that at some point in the future I could lose them all. What's the best approach to storing them? (specific file system, software etc)

I need these functions:

  • It should automatically backup when a specified backup device is available
  • Use some kind of checksum / parity to check and resolve data errors in each file
  • I can create a database which will store the indexing and metadata
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What operating system are you running? – MaQleod Apr 28 '11 at 16:36
I have ubuntu 10.10 along with windows 7 – srinathhs Apr 28 '11 at 16:39
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I currently have 33,000 photographed and catalogued on my Windows PC. My solution is as follows:

Catalogued in Adobe Lightroom, using sidecar files for my Raw Images and embedded keywords for the JPGs(not many of these).

Lightroom creates copy/backups of the Catalogue automatically once a week which I retain for 3 months with in my Work Directory.

For backups I use the following

Syncback Pro : which automatically backs new and changed files (several methods of Comparison available) from up my Work Folder (Photographs and all other Documents) to my NAS drive each evening. Plus once a week I syncronise my Work Folder (and other key data) to 1 of 3 External 1Tb Harddrives which are kept in a Firesafe in my Garage.

I also use Syncback to back up all my other drives (4) to the NAS daily excluding C which is backed up every 2 days to an other internal drive using Acronis True Image and then copied to the NAS.

There is a simple rule you can not have too many copies of your important files.

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How about "windows backup" in windows 7, use that to create backup on my external drive (weekly), plus syncback pro to keep another copy in sync? I want the software to automatically backup when the drive is plugged in rather at a specific time, is that possible? – srinathhs Apr 28 '11 at 17:41
Personally I have never used the Windows Backup routines, but it should be fine, I would make sure you have more than 1 external drive and that you check you can restore data from those devices, especially if you you are using "packed" data rather than pure files as syncback uses. – Jane T Apr 28 '11 at 21:39

Store the pictures on a NTFS or ext4 based filesystem that is setup on a removable drive. Do not keep this drive mounted on any system at all times. If possible setup a wireless network and host this drive over your network when required.

Store all your data files with checksums (md5sum).

You could also consider a RAID1 or RAID5/6 kind storage if you are worried about disk failures.

This is a basic approach assuming you are not looking for a professional storage solution.

You may also want to check this other question,
Filesystem which heals itself, supports removable media and incremental backups.

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I have a similar situation as Jane described with a large number of photos (catalogue managed by Adobe Lightroom, total size about 30GB). I use two tier backup with Allway Sync 'n' Go as it is freeware and can be run as a portable application.

  1. Backup to 1TB external drive over USB2;
  2. Sync the external drive content changes to Amazon S3 using the same utility.

This way it costs me about £3/month in Amazon fees and I can always access the files.

However, if you are concerned about the security, you may want to encrypt the files before syncing. I have not really bothered as my shots do not command £3k a piece like some others...

Regards, Taavi

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