When was the last time you used backups?

“Click! Click!” The sound we all dread to hear. The sound of a hard disk failing.

I bought a Western Digital “My Book” external drive a few weeks ago and moved my Backuppc backup files onto it. That freed up a 250GB SATA drive which I promptly filled with all my photos from 2000 to 2005. That’d be 109GB of data, all archived in a separate drive from my “current” work on this year’s and last year’s photos.

Unfortunately I discovered that the drive has some errors on it, rendering several months of photos unrecoverable. What makes it worse, I had forgotten to add those directories to my Backuppc configuration. Luckily, my trusty old DVD backups came to the rescue and I’m now copying the corrupted files back into my main repository.

The failed SATA drive is less than a year old, I think, so I’ll dig up the receipt and head down to Maplins. I need to buy another external drive anyway, now that I’m replacing my noisy desktop machine with a Dell laptop. Another option is a dedicated RAID array. The Drobo, reviewed by Thomas Hawk a few weeks ago looks very impressive. A bit pricey and I wonder if it’s available in Europe? Apparently the new 1TB My Book drives features a dual drive functionality, and access to gigabit ethernet. Choices, choices, choice. (Later.. The review here of the 1TB My Book says that it has some form of DRM, and is unstable. Definitely one to avoid.

The last DVD backup I made was way back at the end of January this year and I’ve taken another 20GB of photos since. DVDs are too small.

So, when did you last backup your photos? Would you be upset if you lost all those memories?

PS. ironically enough, while feeding Adam this morning I watched Homerazzi, the Simpsons episode where Marge loses all her family photos in a fire and Homer becomes a paparazzi. Here’s some of his work, including pictures of Paris Hilton attacking Bart!

Later .. Doug is having problems with his Drobo, although he’s getting great service from the store he bought it. When he plugged the Drobo into his Mac it complained it couldn’t read the disk. Nasty!

Backups and Storage, 50 years hence

What backup medium lasts 50 years and will be as easy to restore in 2056 as it is now? Mike Johnston writes that computers and backup systems are too complex today and that, “we shouldn’t all need to gradually become full-time archivists” to hold on to precious memories for decades. There are some great comments, and Mike has summarised a few of the ideas expressed in a follow up post. I may even purchase that DAM book.
What is that medium? I don’t know, but it was prompted by Mike’s story when he was cleaning up a bench in a darkroom:

“On the floor behind it, in all the dust and spiderwebs, I found a strip of three 120 negatives. The picture in the middle was of a nude woman in one of those 1940s-style pinup poses that hide as much as they reveal.

Naturally, I cleaned off the negative and made a print of it.

It wasn’t a very good picture, and the negative had been underdeveloped. The point is that it was at least 50 years old at the time, and it had lasted all that time—not only without pampering, but in the absence of human care of any sort.”