Inside Lightroom 2.0 LRB Portfolio

Backups, for those awkward moments when…

As I have been busier in my work life, I have also had less time for photography and photographic management, which meant that my generally doctrinal adherence to organisation and naming got a bit lax over the last year or so. And this nearly came to bite me last week.

I’ve don’t name my imported files only the ones that are ‘keepers’. Keepers being defined as having 1* and above. The next level is Portfolio which would be 4* and 5* images.

Once Keepers have been defined, I rename them in the catalog, convert to DNG, and copy them to a different drive (in Lightroom). The naming structure of these is:

5D2_20130925_000001.dng

The Keepers folder is normally synched overnight to another drive using Chronosync (with file verification). Somehow this must have stopped happening without me realising, and last week the Keepers drive went kaput.

The cold sweat of worry slowly enveloped me as I realised what had happened. And then it dawned on me that I had one extra trick up my sleeve and that is that my Keepers folder had been backed up to the cloud since April.

I have been using Amazon Web Services with some software on the Mac called Arc $39.99, which manages the process of backing up and restoring. (There is a PC equivalent of Arc called, Zoolz.)

Sure enough there was a full backup of my Keepers folder on the cloud. All I needed to do was find what I needed to restore, click a restore button and wait overnight (in this case) until everything appeared.

Phew!

The Economics

Using Amazon Glacier is cheaper to store than the full S3 service, the downside is that there is a 3-5 hour delay to restore, but that should be fine for most cases. If you need faster restores then Arc can also handle using S3. Here is the basic difference between Glacier and S3:

Glacier S3
Price $0.01/GB per month $.095/GB per month
Retrieval Delay 3-5hrs 0hrs
Restore Fees $.05/GB per request insignificant

My storage fees have so far averaged at $7 per month, but that has included some other data that I stored on the cloud for a time as well. More recently it has been about $5 per month. All of which means I am storing 400GB for $60-90 a year.

The equivalent Dropbox fees would be a fixed 500GB for $460 per year! I’d have instant access wherever you are, but that isn’t something I need for that price! The next tier up is the business tier which is $760 per year for 1TB.

The Remedy

So with the rather drastic warning from the loss of a drive, I have amended my backup system. Not only have I restored the nightly sync of the Keepers folder using Chronosync, but I have also selected its option to email me when it has performed the scheduled sync. So every morning I get an email with a nice coloured background to tell me details about the backup.

I will add more sychs over the next couple of days, to ensure that other drives have copies of the data too. I’m guessing that verified copies on 3 separate drives, and a cloud backup is a good starting point!

The Moral(s)

  • Always check your backups
  • Have multiple backup strategies
  • Think about Cloud Storage
  • It is not a question of if a drive will fail, but when