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I'm using iPhoto '09 and have an 80GB library. I want to back everything up to DVDs, because I figure that's the cheapest / most reliable solution. (I plan to have a couple of copies and keep them in different places.)

Ideally, after the initial backup, every couple of months, I'd back up everything that's changed (new photos, edits, metadata) to single DVD and add it to the set.

How would you go about doing that?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I know this isn't answering your question, but are you aware that optical media can degrade over time? It might be simplest to do full backups every so often so you have multiple copies of your photos just in case.

There are some questions that discuss this:

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Yes. That's part of why I'm planning on having multiple copies. I figure 2-3 redundant DVDs is more reliable than one external hard drive. And I'm not trusting those DVDs to last 20 years -- just until a better option comes along. (Maybe a better option has already come along? I'm open to other suggestions, and spending a little money if the cost/benefit makes sense.) – Patrick McElhaney Sep 30 '09 at 20:23
The better option is tape but the cost is much higher. If you can trust yourself to remember to duplicate the DVDs every year or so they should be fine. – Chris Nava Sep 30 '09 at 20:39
This old question just got 2500 views and popped into my notification feed. Only six years later I don't even own a device that can read DVD-R. – Patrick McElhaney Jul 9 '15 at 18:28

My current option is to have an external disk in RAID mirror using Time Machine (WD My Book 2Tb)

I also consider this as a temporary solution but until now it scales well. Prior to Time Machine my backup was already on an external RAID system but smaller. With the time, my Media Library is bigger and bigger, but the disks become more affordable and the backup technology more transparent.

The main advantage of this solution is that it doesn't require manual operation. I check from time to time that the backup was performed and that the disks are active, just to make sure that nobody unplugged it by accident...

I have hourly, dayly and weekly backups, without effort.

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My only problem with that option is it doesn't protect against fire or theft. I want to keep a copy off-site. – Patrick McElhaney Sep 30 '09 at 21:00
Fore theft, I have a partial solution. My WD is installed as a NAS. Being connected to the network, I could hide him in another place at home, so it is not visible and not close to the computer. About fire, I agree that it is not a solution. For that solution I would like to have a safe remote storage, but for the moment I didn't find anything affordable that was secured and convenient enough... Fire protection is expectation for my next phase of scaling... – Christian Lemer Oct 1 '09 at 5:48

Quick directions are given on the iPhoto FAQ.

You should be able to follow the same instructions for your incremental backups by click-and-dragging only the new content to the DVD rather than the whole Library.

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I ended up getting an external hard drive and enabling Time Machine, as others suggested. – Patrick McElhaney Nov 2 '09 at 19:40

DVDs are neither cheap nor reliable. I would suggest you to consider hard disks instead.

Other advantages of HD over DVD include:

  • initial copy is faster and incremental updates even more
  • you don't need to split your data over several supports
  • retrieval is faster and easier
  • hard disks are smaller and lighter
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