Back It Up

My Drobo arrived today.

I had to revisit my storage and archive strategy for my digital photography. With the growth in data from photography, I needed a more robust storage and archiving solution. The Drobo will offer me up to 16TB of virtual storage. And that should last me for a few years.

Hard drives fail

This happened to me on March 27, 2010. My primary hard drive on my primary computer failed. A catastrophic failure. A dead disk. Thankfully, my machine was fully backed up on Time Machine and it was remarkably easy to restore to a new computer without any meaningful data loss. Time machine had backed my data right up to the last hour.

Since that time, the growth in my digital photography has been dramatic and I had to move my photo library off the primary disk on my computer. Not enough storage on the internal hard drive.

Digital photography takes up a lot of space

Between Lorraine and myself, we can easily shot upwards of two or three thousand images a month. Off my camera, each image can take up to 25MB of space. As my oldest son tells me, I need lots and lots of the GeeBees. My digital images are all managed by Adobe Lightroom. I keep the catalog and the images on an external multi-terabyte Firewire drive. That drive is backed up to an identical external multi-terabyte Firewire drive which, in turn is backed up to a third multi-terabyte Firewire drive. The third drive is a RAID drive. The Time Machine backup of my computer is located on fourth external drive.

Very few people I meet have any form of backup in place for their computer.

Minimize the risk of data loss

Knowing that hard drives fail and then actually experiencing a hard drive failure highlighted the importance of backing up my data. Much of my life is captured in digital form through photos, recordings, and documents. I would like to keep those digital memories — particularly the photos — available for myself and my family.

The combination of external drives and the Drobo will help me minimize the risk of data loss by keeping the images on at least three storage platforms. Unlike prior years, I will have one of the storage platforms rotating to an offsite location.

One of my goals for the year is to scan all of our “paper” photographs. I really want to make sure that my children have digital copies of all of those wonderful moments in time. I would hate to do all of that work only to fall victim to a hard drive failure.

2 replies
  1. Mike P
    Mike P says:

    Our new backup/sharing strategy is based around a Synology Diskstation NAS. The price was definitely right, but I’ve been totally blown away by what it can do””it shares all our MP3s and videos directly to iTunes, it has web UI for browsing photos, and it can download torrents for you overnight.

    Most importantly, though, it’s a real Linux machine, with ssh and actual root access. So it’s easy to plug in a USB back up drive and rsync the whole thing on an hourly cron job, run a webserver, monitor a webcam, whatever. This is less significant to households which already have always-on PCs, but for us with laptops only, it’s a huge step up.

    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      NAS is a great solution and I have heard good things about Synology. A lot of photographers use the Drobo solution and I have it dedicated for photo backups only. But, if I were looking for a general purpose NAS, Synology would be at the top of my list.


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