This post covers my current thoughts on off-site photographic backups. It should be understood in the context of this paper on backups in general. I should revise that page soon.
There are two basic approaches to off-site backups. One is to do local backups to portable media, and regularly carry that to a safe place. That is the approach I favor for my work. The other way of doing things is to use a cloud backup service. I have tried that several times, and never could make it work for me. The problems that I encountered included but were not limited to:
- Slow upload speeds
- Unavailability of physical media for disaster recovery.
- Proprietary upload applications that broke things on my workstations.
- Proprietary upload applications that didn’t work reliably.
- Worries about privacy in the event of the cloud company going out of business.
- Inability to do trial restores
Here are links to some of my experiences with cloud backup:
For a long time, I used SATA disks for backup, and stored them in a safe deposit box. I still do that, but it hasn’t bee easy of late. In the USB2 era, with drives up to about 6 TB, things worked pretty well using USB2 disk docks. But when the drives went to 8 TB, and the only available USB docks changes to USB3 or USB-C, I ran into no end of problems. I tried many Seagate and HGST disks, and many USB3 docks. My test was a 7+ TB backup, followed by a week of updates. I’ve not recently found a drive/dock combination that can do that without a hitch. I’ve used docks from:
- Cable Matters
It is not clear that these docks use different chip sets, or different firmware.
What I’ve been doing recently is buying Seagate USB3 external disks. They don’t cost any more than the internal ones, which is strange since they are simply an internal drive in a box with a power supply and a USB to SATA adapter. They seem to be much more reliable than the docks, although they have not been perfect by any means.
There is one serious drawback: they don’t fit in the small safe deposit boxes.
If you pursue this route, you should know that the drives come formatted with exFAT, which causes Windows data transfers to be between a third to half the speed of the same drives formatted with NTFS. Fortunately, it’s easy to reformat the drives. Then things go pretty quickly: