Backup for the photographer – part 3

After exploring the external hard drive and optical drive backup options available to photographers willing to protect their images from accidental damage, let’s see what on-line storage options we have.

These all have the advantage of protecting your backup against one aspect of risk management: There is no longer a risk of seeing a local accident corrupting all of your backup data. No fire, no earthquake can take down both your photos and your backup files. You put the backup on the network, and it is located in some distant location (often with its own integrated company-level backup solution, too: A backup of your backup). So, it’s fairly safe.

On-line backup options

Photo web sites

Right! It may be like an obvious option, but it’s not always a bad one. If you put all your photos on Flickr, not only can you share your images with the rest of the world (or the rest of the family), but you immediately have a copy of your pictures in a server farm at the other end of the world. And, while it may not be easy, you can definitely get them back in case of a too-fast delete or disk crash on your computer.

Digital granddad:

No problem. But let’s hope that nothing serious happens or it may take a long time to get it all back.

Expert:

Forget about it!

Pro:

No. Why do you even ask?

Of course, there are many options. Those I can think immediately about are:

Pick your own.

Obviously OK for small quantities of pictures. But also consider the long time it would take to collect images one by one in case of a computer crash. Tedious is a word coming to mind and it is a clear understatement.

Friend-to-Friend

There is an interesting development to the availability of fast Internet connections: P2P or Peer-to-Peer data exchange. While it is usually associated to music and video files being exchanged between young people and older pirates, there is a surprising extension being seen.

What some people call Friend-to-Friend (or F2F) allows a group of friends (or associates of some kinds) to share some data. Nobody outside your group can see what is happening, but it can be used for distant backup. Let’s suppose you don’t really have an issue with disk space. Why not let your friends backup their data on your disk while you backup your data on theirs?

This is as simple as it comes. Of course, technically, it’s a bit more complex, but it works well. Some software programs like the following, ease that approach with a fully packaged solution:

Digital granddad:

I guess that the additional hassle will not attract you. Except if your grandson is willing to participate (with his large hard disk for video files!)

Expert:

Why not discuss it within your photo club or your best photo buddies? It is worth trying.

Pro:

There is an inherent risk to this solution: You depend on somebody who may be a friend or a good business partner, but is it enough to provide confidence in his/her ability to maintain a working computer and storage for both of you (or all of you)? This may be a good solution but -as you know- confidence is difficult to build.

  • Crashplan offers more traditional backup option (see below), but it’s most interesting option is F2F with a friend’s computer, a remote server you rent, etc. Of course, it includes some encryption to ensure that your friend’s do not know what your files are, and its interface is plain simple. CrashPlan is freeware available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Cucku works on Windows only. It allows to send encrypted (with 256-bit AES) backups to your friends computers. You’ll notice that it is well integrate in Skype to support part of the exchanges.
  • With Zoogmo installed on your computer and your friends computers, you can search each other and send files back and forth. You set it up and it will send files around every two hours. It seems very simple and efficient. Zoogmo is a free download for Windows systems only, and requires a free sign-up.

This is very fine except that you need to use the drives of others. So, you need to get some fairly large available space on the computers of your friends or family. Usually, the reciprocating approach works well, but it means that you must have some level of confidence and a relatively similar interest in backing up each other data. That makes it OK for close friends, or photo clubs members/partners. It usually is less applicable to family links, but it is very interesting indeed: Your backup drive is bought for others while others buy their own backup drive for you…

[To be continued]

2 comments for “Backup for the photographer – part 3

  1. Sasha
    January 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Flickr as a backup site, you must be kidding!

  2. January 15, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Not kidding. It’s just a possibility, but I cannot suggest it for more than the needs of the “Digital granddad”.

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