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Backups and Storage

The Problem

Since I changed over to digital photography I have had many a sleepless night worrying about how to ensure the safety of all my files. I have a fairly lowly DSLR with 'only' 10 megapixels, nevertheless that means that each picture, in RAW format, produces a file of approximately 10 megabytes. So, CD or DVD storage just doesn't have the capacity that I need. Also I'm not convinced by the longevity of CDs or DVDs. External drives are a good solution now they are cheaper, I can store them at a separate location so as not to be wiped out by fire or burglary, they are not constantly working like an internal hard drive so they should last longer. Also I am continually renewing the backup so deterioration of the data image should not be too much of a problem.

External drives are very much part of my solution but the problem is that I have to remember, and then take the time, to do the backup. Much as I try to discipline myself, I am not the world's best at taking the time out to do backups.

Backups and storage

The Answer

So what's the answer? Well, as I said, part of the answer is an external hard drive but, let's face it, if thieves broke in to 'Lawrence Towers', they'd probably leave my desktop and steal my USB drive.

A service that has recently reached maturity and is now very useful, instead of just being a bit of a gimmick, is online backup. I decided to do some research on the subject, prices and so forth, and realized that this could be the answer to my problem. A thorough trawl of the internet kept turning up one name that seemed to rise head and shoulders above the competition, in terms of price, service and ease of use, that name was Mozy Online Backup.

The Deal

This great service is completely free if you want to store less than 2Gb of data, and you can store that 2Gb for as long as you want because there is no expiry date to the offer.

If, like me, you have significantly more than 2Gb to store you can have, unlimited (and they do mean unlimited) storage for $4.95 per month. Now we all hate paying for things on the web, me most of all, but for the price of two or three cups of coffee a month I can rest easy in my bed (and not need so much coffee).

After a brief trial run with the free account, I considered it to be a 'no brainier' and signed up for the 'full monty'.

Backups and storage

The Test

After downloading a small program, which manages all the data, and telling it which folders you want to include in your backup. Then you simply let it loose. The initial backup took forever, as I only have a wireless internet connection which is one megabit on a good day when the wind is in the right direction, and I have over 50 gigabytes of data. So I had to leave my computer on 24/7 for a few weeks while the backup chugged away, I thought it was never going to finish. The progress panel is very good though, giving a progress bar (with numbers too), a speed reading and an estimated time to complete the task, so you're never left wondering what's happening.

After the initial backup is complete the automatic backup will just kick in, it's default setting is twice a day, and make any changes to the folders on your list. You can re-configure the backup schedule any way you want but the default settings seem pretty good to me. Backups never seem to interfere with my work, all I have to do is remember to leave the computer on while I go for lunch or whatever and, by the time I get back, the backup is done.

Restoring Files

The backup appears in Windows Explorer as a new drive, you can explore the contents just as you can any other drive and you can restore any individual file or folder that you need to recover by just double clicking on it. Obviously, if you need to restore everything, it's going to take a while, but you can grab the files you need most first to get you back in business and let the rest chug away while you get on with your work.

The Conclusion

All in all, I find it the most hassle free system to have on my computer, less trouble than my anti-virus and a lot less trouble than Windows Update, it just beavers away in the background and gets the job done. The job that you never seem to have time for until after you have lost everything, I've been there and got the T-shirt and I don't want that experience ever again, especially with my photos.

Give it a try, what have you got to lose? Apart from all your photos.

Backups and storage

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