Something to Say Again

North Wales would you believe!
North Wales would you believe!

I had a bit of a scare over the holidays that made me realise how sloppy I have become with my backup process. At one time I was pretty rigorous in processing and backing up my images. Everything went into a holding area on my hard drive which was duplicated to a second hard drive. Once the images had been processed and had keywords applied I would then move them to a processed folder set, again duplicated and then also burned to CD.

Over time the image size has increased and so have my storage needs. At some point I seem to have relaxed control and stopped using my complicated, multi copy process. In short, I have become sloppy. I did recognise this a few years ago and took out a little insurance, investing in a Drobo with 4 drive bays. That way if one of my drives dies I still have the data across the others.

Great idea; I love the Drobo and all has been well for the past 4 years.

The only problem I have with this set up is that it’s not very easy to have a backup of 8Tb’s of storage. Sure if one or even two of the disks die I can recover with minimal data loss. But what happens if the whole unit dies. The first thing a Drobo unit does when you insert a new drive is format it.


I had this thought about a week ago and then the unthinkable actually happened. My Drobo wouldn’t boot. Even when I managed to get it started the PC wouldn’t recognise it and the unit would go back to sleep.

I have managed to get the unit started now. I have no idea what caused the problem but it’s made me invest in a second Drobo and hard disks. I am going to spend a lot more time in the coming year developing a sensible archiving policy for all my images. I’m now adding images to the collection far too quickly. I can’t risk losing everything.

Storage may be cheap but the time taken to manage data and image archives isn’t. I think this coming year will be a year of tidying everything up and becoming as streamlined as possible.

26 thoughts on “Something to Say Again

  1. I would urge anyone using a NAS drive / multi drive backup to buy one which uses a linux file format rather than a proprietary one and run it using RAID 1 – that way, even if the hardware system and one disk fails the remaining disK can be popped into an external drive unit and read using a linux system or ‘live’ linux disk run on a m/soft system.

    1. I will look into that. I haven’t used Linux much in the past 15 years. I have however been able to swap one of myDrobo drives out into another unit and read it. The problem with Drobo seems to come if you switch between units it wants to reformat the drives.

  2. Having had the experience of a dead NAS box with an unknown Raid 5 Linux format, I decided that my backup would always be readable on my Mac. I use a combination of Raid 1 drives attached to my main machine, and backup over my network to a Mac Mini. Large USB drives are cheap and fast these days. Given that controllers die more often than disks, in my experience, one of these is always handy:

    1. I’m also running a 3 x 2Tb RAID 1 in my main machine as well as the 8Tb Drobo (soon to be 2 x 8Tb Drobos). I have quite a few external HDD plugged in there but I hate all the cables. I really like these drive docks and haven’t seen them before. This seems like a useful device. In the past I have resorted to using an external HDD case and swaping out the drives. This looks a lot easier. I’m also thinking of making better use of Cloud Storage for really important files although transfer times can be an issue.

  3. LOL I have two RAID 1 arrays in my PC and a NAS with another RAID 1 to backup and this year I will be storing an external HD copy in a friends safe for monthly backups as well.

    I had major issues with the NAS, turned out it needed a big firmware update that would reformat the drives, but because of the problem I couldn’t get backups off the NAS!! A stressful time helped out by a technical friend who got it all sorted for me.

    Also recently one of the drives in my C: array has died and I have opted to replace those with 2 x 180GB SSD, looking forward to those being installed when my tech friend gets back from holiday.

    No you cannot be too careful with data!

    1. Wow. It seems we all have similar stories. I’m running 2 x 240Gb SSD drives in my PC (as well as RAID1 for 3 x2TB disks). I use the SSD as a boot drive with windows and the other to run high performance apps. Works a treat. Hope yours are equally as impressive.

      1. Yes now I have finally started to learn to use PS I think I might invest in another SSD for scratch – would an 80GB be big enuf for that do you think? Im not looking at enormous files I dont think, unless it was a pano.

      2. I should think an 80Gb drive is a good size for a scratch disk. I don’t actually use my SSD as the scratch drive. I have partitioned one of my other drives to 50Gb and it appears to work great. Having said that my previous PC was very old and slow but my replacement was custom made to a very high spec. Anything would have seemed like an improvement.

      3. Thanks Robyn, my machine was pretty high end but that was nearly 5 years ago! Its still capable of doing what I need tho, but will be vastly improved with the SSD

  4. What is for sure is that all hard drives will fail and that one should backup online/ offline, local and remote. I am waiting for the price of TB SSDs to come down and am currently using a couple RAIDs and am looking at Cloud storage.

    1. Cloud stoarge is a good option but I would like to get faster transfer times to make it really viable. Is there a particular service you are considering? I have been looking at Amazon AWS as the storage is very robust and quite cheap.

      1. As an off-site 3rd level of backup ‘the cloud’ is pretty ideal. It may take a while to do an initial upload but once you are only incrementally updating a library it doesn’t take too long and as it’s always done in the background, when your computer is switched on, you really don’t notice it. I use Google Drive – it’s free !

        With respect to SSDs – good value can be had by avoiding the latest generation, after all the speed difference is not something which you will notice when using it for cache or image storage.

  5. Google offers 15GB of storage in total shared between Drive, Gmail and Google+ photos for each email account – need a lot of storage ? then steveslandscape@gmail; stevesfishing@gmail; stevesarchitecture@gmail etc etc would each have 15GB of storage free ! – not that I need that as I only upload completed work + their original RAW files.

    The other option would be to take out a commercial account – details on their page –

    1. Looks quite good thanks. The only problem I can see is that whilst it’s unlimited storage they limit each user to 1Tb. It’s a very good deal for $10 per month though. I need to do some maths and compare this to Amazon AWS.

    1. That’s an interesting article. I haven’t seen anything like the problems Brian seems to have experienced but it was pretty scary stuff when my unit wouldn’t boot up. Unfortunately as you mention, G-Tech is Mac only so I will need to come up with a solid strategy.

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