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Thread: Data back-up & protection with fire proof safe

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    Data back-up & protection with fire proof safe

    Harrrooo!

    So I have spent a few hours today moving from a 4TB RAID 1 set up which houses the majority of my commercial and private RAW files, work documents and finished products - over to the little individual 1TB Seagate GoFlex units.

    I calculated that I use roughly around 1TB per year for work and personal stuff in terms of photography, so have decided to get 4 of these units - 2 for the last two financial years and the other two for back ups of the same corresponding data. The idea of having 1 drive for every financial year seems easier for me to reference and archive, and not putting all my eggs into one basket at once.

    The thought of leaving my RAID set up on my work station at home, and vulnerable to theft or fire or other forms of damages frankly scares the crap out of me - so I decided I will buy a fire-proof safe to store the portable drives in there whenever it is not in use, and take it out to do back ups whenever need be. I also keep a back up drive at my photography office too and maybe get another drive going and keep it at a friend's or my partners house also.

    Does anyone have any experiences with fire proof safes and which model they can recommend? I would not mind something that can also accommodate some lenses and bodies for storage too when I am away. Thanks!

    I used to think a RAID 1 array with 4 drives mirroring each other was sufficient but now I think Im putting too much eggs in one basket at once. I just prefer to have individual drives separated and not bunched up together. It might seem pedantic and time consuming to back up drives individually but somehow - I find that I will be able to sleep a little easier, especially for those times when I am working overseas far from home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JM Tran View Post
    Does anyone have any experiences with fire proof safes and which model they can recommend? I would not mind something that can also accommodate some lenses and bodies for storage too when I am away.
    I have had several dealings with CMI Safe Company and I would recommend them to you. I trust their professional advice.
    ASAIK there are no fire proof safes.
    Fire (and heat and water damage) resistance, however, can be achieved to varying degrees (of heat and also TIME).
    The documents and data safe we have was purchased before we cut over to digital media but I don’t think the standards applying to heat, water and fire resistance, have changed all that much in the past 20 years and I don’t expect the materials used for these mid range protection units have changed much either. Ours also offers a very good level of violation and content’s theft protection and could be used for storing some cameras and lenses.

    ***

    The following does not address the question that you asked and is offered only as a suggestion for your consideration; and neither to debate nor to discuss the pros and cons any further:

    For digital image file storage & back up storage (and general business digital data storage also) one off site, third party digital data storage facility, combined with a local user owned and managed back up drive, offers a better, catholic business solution than any user management of physical objects, in a data safe, at a user managed and or user owned site.

    WW

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    Thanks for that William, I did not consider 3rd party data storage and back up facilities, but I will now

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    I had to recover a hard drive this year- I discussed raid systems with the tech and he said he sees as many raid as single drives, due to coruption being copied across. Raid only really protects against mechanical failure.
    Having data off site is an excellent plan.
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    Backing up in the cloud I think is the way of the future and the plans are coming down in price all the time

    It's just the initial hit that's the issue, but at least backblaze as an example will take a hdd off you for the initial load

    When high speed broadband is here then it'll really take off
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    yeah I agree Darren, backing up data via cloud/3rd party and being able to access it anywhere in the world - sounds like the future to me, would be invaluable for professional work I reckon.

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    clouds never really inspired confidence in me, but as an almost everything proof backup option its a goody. We need much higher data transfer rates for it to be really useful though (and better deals).

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    I'll come at this from my IT perspective - proper backup means offsite storage on alternative media ( e.g. Tape or optical disk) in a system where you control how it is stored.

    We back up 400 GB/ day at work on a single tape. There is a set of 5 per week which are stored in the vault at the local bank for 4 weeks, and then offsite monthly sets stored forever at a separate site.

    Overkill for photo storage? Maybe. However, this solution costs about $3000-$4000 to implement, and is reliable -we recently restored 4 yo files without problems.

    How much is your business worth? Could you deal with loss of your photographs?

    I would not trust my business to the cloud - even if there is a contract, you are left fighting it out in court if there is a failure; and you still don't get your photos back. The cloud is great for accessibility - just not as the ultimate fallback.
    Regards, Rob

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    I think the cloud is going to be so compelling in the next year or three that the days of local storage and backups are numbered

    Lests not forget that amazon for example have massively scaleability hardware already being used corporately and is backed up in massive raid systems

    It's also very likely in the same timeframe you'll be using photoshop online as saas

    As you say rob, bandwidth is the only restraint

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi View Post
    I think the cloud is going to be so compelling in the next year or three that the days of local storage and backups are numbered

    Lests not forget that amazon for example have massively scaleability hardware already being used corporately and is backed up in massive raid systems

    It's also very likely in the same timeframe you'll be using photoshop online as saas

    As you say rob, bandwidth is the only restraint
    Actually, I think it was johndom who made the bandwidth comment, although I agree.

    Cloud backups worry me though - they may be compelling price and service-wise, but it is a big leap of faith to trust your last-resort storage to a cloud enterprise. I think you'd want to see some contracts signed that had some decent penalties for failure on behalf of the supplier. (And even if you have the contracts, if they go broke, you are just another creditor who might have also lost his business.)

    Remember the recent case of an ISP that lost all its client websites, with no decent backup?

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmer_rob View Post
    Actually, I think it was johndom who made the bandwidth comment, although I agree.

    Cloud backups worry me though - they may be compelling price and service-wise, but it is a big leap of faith to trust your last-resort storage to a cloud enterprise. I think you'd want to see some contracts signed that had some decent penalties for failure on behalf of the supplier. (And even if you have the contracts, if they go broke, you are just another creditor who might have also lost his business.)

    Remember the recent case of an ISP that lost all its client websites, with no decent backup?
    I see all sides of the discussion here and think it is, as ever, gong to come down to a compromise of cost v flexibility.

    To answer to OP's original question I agree with William W's comment that it depends on heat and time and for my money it would be the last option I would look at. 'Fireproof' is great if you are housing items that need protecting from physical fire but can withstand heat. Modern media tends to be sensitive to heat and whilst it may not combust it will be rendered a useless warped mess due to the heat. Leave a CD on your dash during a hot day...similar result. IMO a fireproof safe simply gives the impression of peace of mind.

    Playing in the cloud is something I am in favour of however bandwidth is a major issue given the likely size of RAW files. I use Dropbox and whilst it is good the limiting factor is the time it takes to upload my backups.

    Until the bandwidth issue is resolved (and that means fibre to the home IMO) I would not see cloud as an otion in Australia, depending of course on the size of your backups.

    For my money I would stick with RAID onsite coupled with a defined schedule of offsite backups. Offsite can be 5km away as it is unlikley that both sites would be wiped out in the same event. Use the cloud as additional peace of mind if it is workable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    To answer to OP's original question. . . it depends on heat and time and for my money it would be the last option I would look at. 'Fireproof' is great if you are housing items that need protecting from physical fire but can withstand heat.


    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    Offsite can be 5km away as it is unlikley that both sites would be wiped out in the same event. Use the cloud as additional peace of mind if it is workable.
    Flood.

    For the offsite user owned hardware backup, it's not that distance is the key factor: it is the geography, topography and speed & ease of access.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 16-11-2011 at 12:19am.

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    well a floating fireproof safe would be the answer then.

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    This became an issue again for me 2 weeks ago - another shop in the plaza had a fire and luckily the whole building didn't go up (good security checks and firies who put it out) - Where was my backup - sitting under my PC (it isn't now)
    Had the building gone up i would have had just 5 photos from the wedding i had done - the ones i'd ordered the day before...
    Now i have offsite backup as well as onsite backup - I liek the idea of the cloud... just getting my head around it...
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    The other problem with remote cloud type services is that of the cost of bandwidth.
    I'm assuming that most of the concerns of bandwidth are of the usual speed of upload(which is woeful if you regularly upload many gigs of data per week), and say a typical 500G data limit per month costs upward of $150 per month, within a year you could have paid for two typical high end RAID servers located in two places of importance(home/work/office/family/friends locations).

    The vast majority of the data synchronisation would be achieved via direct intervention by the owner via various methods(USB hard drives, optical media, USB thumb drives, etc) directly on the machine that requires updating, therefore minimising upload/download data rates, and for small incremental sync lots, it would be simple remote rsync type service where the two servers communicate at specific times of the day which could be spread out to minimise the impact of data transfer.. eg set to run during off peak periods which most ISP's allow.

    So in the case of Jeff, where it seems he has a shop in a plaza that was nearly taken out due to a nearby incident. He would then be running two identical(or not) off the shelf servers, one at home and one at the shop, where the data is transferred between the two machines via a USB hard drive to facilitate a speedy syncing of data. Any incremental alterations made during the night on the home PC, would then be synchronised via rsync(which the servers should be running), and set by Jeff to activate at after 12AM to use up his off peak bandwidth. This way if the connection is fast enough(say 256kb/s) during the course of the night whilst it's off peak, a considerable amount of data(eg 1gig) can be uploaded to the work server and both machines are up to date. If in the event of a disaster at home, at least the last thing that needs to be worried about is the loss of any vital data on the home PC.

    of course vital data is not restricted to only images, photos or photoshop actions! Other critical data such as customer lists, accounting records, or any other personal data that simply needs to be saved.

    I used to get my invoices emailed to me in PDF format and I started to get lazy and not print them off.
    I consider myself a low risk disaster waiting to happen and not really concern myself with data loss due to disaster, but I did recently have a hard drive PC issue, where I somehow managed to lose 2 months worth of emails(I use T'bird). Of course being the idiot I didn't print out those invoices and lost them all. 2 months was not a lot, but made finalising my accounting for the year impossible.
    Organised with work for them to re send those emails(and hence PDFs) to me, but they 'don't do that' !!!! but the accounts lady did send me a summary style run down of the figures I did need.
    Got out of that 'creek' by the hairs of my chinny chin chin, but lesson learned. I now use a backup program to back up all emails for T'bird, onto external hard drives and USB thumb drives and anywhere else I can think of.

    If you worry about the T&C's and financial stability of the cloud service .. create your own!
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    the info has been very helpful, ive been considering the methods of storage for some time
    thanks
    All CC is welcome

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    Very helpful information indeed. While I have a daily backup running, the disk is located in the same room. I have often contemplated offsite storage. This discussion has helped to make this a priority. Thanks.
    Christoph
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    The best time to back up is now, the 2nd best time to back up was 5 minutes ago.

    Over the last few months I've been converting all my clients to a different backup program, Backup Assist.
    It allows for multiple backups to various media types.
    Only 1 backup is a recipe for disaster, backing up regularly and often is the only way.

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