long term digital photo storage what to do?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Tombo, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Tombo

    Tombo Guest

    Just got my new canon 300d and it is just fantastic.
    I was showing the various features of the camera to my wife
    and saying how we now have 6 megapixels at our disposal.
    She said wont that start filling up our PC? Our main pc
    has an 80gig hard drive with about 30 gig free.

    Well average file size of 4 meg (not raw) works out at approx.
    250 photos per gig. So if i take a 1000 photos a year 3 per day
    I need about 4 gig of storage. So not a problem I probably have
    a few years of storage left on my hard drive.

    But what did dawn on me is my dependence on the hard disk of my PC
    I already have about 1500 photos from my old camera on there and
    I'm going to start adding many more. So how do I make backups of
    these files? The only solution I have right now is to burn some CD's
    But I have read reports that the long term stability of CD's is not
    guaranteed. Some of the first disks I burnt about 6 years ago are
    now unreadable.

    I would reckon that many people don't realize the risks that they
    take with their photos by not backing them up. One disk failure could
    wipe out years of memories or valuable work. I for one have decided
    that until a better alterantive to CD is found, that I will have to
    always keep two copies of all photos I want to keep. One on my
    hard drive one on a cd.

    Tombo, Jan 10, 2004
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  2. Tombo

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: Tombo
    Two other solutions would be to add a second internal hard drive and keep a
    copy of all image files there, or to add an external USB or Firewire drive and
    keep a copy on it (or do both). Many of our film drum scans are 100-500 MB
    (depending on format and bit depth) so CDs are not a good option for us since
    we can only get one 6x7 tiff file on a CD.

    Just bought a 200 GB Hitachi HD for $90 after rebate, and a 180 GB Hitachi for
    a second computer for $70 after rebate, they installed in minutes and I can
    simply pop them out and move them to a new computer when I upgrade to take all
    my data with me.

    External drives are more expensive and slower, but more portable. IIRC we got
    a 120 GB Maxtor USB for $110 and a 160 GB Maxtor with both USB and Firewire for
    $180 or so recently, so we can back up many gigabytes quite easily.
    You need to pay the premium price to get CD's with better coatings, these are
    supposed to last much longer. The cheap ones are fine for moving files or
    short term storage, but don't last as long.


    Bill Hilton, Jan 10, 2004
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  3. Let's look at this a couple of ways.

    First, do you really make 1,000 photos per year that you really want to

    If I were to look at the 1,000 photos you took last year, how many
    would you be really proud of? Would I think you are a good photographer?

    Now let's reduce that to 50 photos. Your 50 best. I suspect if I were
    to look at those and not the 950 not so good ones, I would think you are a
    much better photographer. Learn to edit and keep only the best.

    OK, we still need to save the results.

    Keep in mind that any form of saving images is not 100% secure. Your
    hard drive can crash without warning and take everything on it with it.
    Today's drives are better, but they still can crash. I suggest keeping at
    least two copies of anything you consider important.

    CD's are good storage media. They generally have a good life and are
    cheap and easy to use. They do not last forever, and may well not last your
    life time let along the life time of your children. The other problem is
    the fact that in 30 years, it is likely you will find it as difficult to
    read as to play an 8 track tape.

    So unless you or someone is going to keep re-archiving all this data,
    it is temporary.

    Think for a couple of seconds. Do you have some photos of your parents
    when they were kids. Even if they have faded a little, you can still see
    them and enjoy them. I suggest that you pick out a few images out of those
    50 best from each year and have some high quality archival prints made, so
    50 years from now someone will still be able to view and enjoy them.

    Back to point one. If you parents had made and kept 1,000 images per
    year when they were kids, do you think you would ever view even 1% of them,
    especially if you had to find some sort of viewer for them?

    Best of Luck
    Joseph Meehan, Jan 10, 2004
  4. Tombo

    Hugo Drax Guest

    Throw out the medicre pictures.
    Hugo Drax, Jan 10, 2004
  5. Tombo

    jean Guest

    If I were to look at the 1,000 photos you took last year, how many
    I look at the blurry B+W prints my parents took when they were young with a
    different eye. Composition is not important, quality is not important
    either. They were not photographers, they only imortalized their
    surroundings, the people they knew and loved.
    You would be happy to sort through the pictures your parents took, even if
    it took a long time. I have many many tapes dating close to 20 years of my
    kids growing up. It is fun to look at even the stupid stuff they did then,
    the shaky camera movement when they used my equipment of my mom and dad
    brings back fond memories. My daughter made edited tapes of her friends and
    my niece which are a joy to see.

    That being said, I keep many of my pics. I back up on CD, now also on DVD.
    I take the CDs at work where I copy the pictures on another system I keep
    there. Since late 1999 with my first digital camera (Kodak DC240) I now
    have about 9Gb worth of pictures but that is growing very fast with a 300D.

    jean, Jan 10, 2004
  6. Tombo

    Nils Rostedt Guest

    You got good advice already. Hard disks are very inexpensive and easy to
    move between PCs, use them.
    I bought an additional 120GB HD when I switched to digital, as burn
    everything to CD as well, as a last resort backup. Next purchase will
    probably be an external USB HD.

    Your most valued images should additionally be backed up elsewhere - a web
    site, several CDs, portable HD, another PC etc.
    Nils Rostedt, Jan 10, 2004
  7. Tombo

    agent yelow Guest

    why not get another hard drive or computer?
    agent yelow, Jan 10, 2004
  8. No, that's true.

    It's more like 3000 for me. 3609 for 2003.
    Very bad choice.

    I've been going through 30-year-old negatives recently, and finding
    all sorts of fascinating pictures that I never printed when they were
    new. What's interesting in the future isn't always the same as what's
    interesting today.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jan 10, 2004
  9. Tombo

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Have you got a CD burner? If not, get one. I have 46 CDs full of my finished
    work and another 50 or so with raw scans of my oldest slides -- the ones
    from the 60s and 70s that are in bad shape. Trying to have enough storage in
    a computer for everythign will drive you broke.

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    Tony Spadaro, Jan 10, 2004
  10. Tombo

    Paul Rubin Guest

    The most convenient way is with a second hard drive, but you should
    also make offline copies.
    Use archive grade CD's (they are expensive though). Here's a source:


    Technical blurb:

    Make several CD copies and keep at least one set outside of your house
    (a safe deposit box is a good location) in case of disaster.

    See http://www.taobackup.com for a generally informative semi-humorous
    blurb about backup (advertising a product that doesn't really apply
    to you, but the general principles still apply).
    Paul Rubin, Jan 10, 2004
  11. Tombo

    cwvalle Guest

    i can't believe that people suggest throwing out images to save disk space.
    what after all is the point of unlimited film for free cameras (digital) if
    not to free you from physical problems of film storage
    I would simply make CD's of all the images I had, and cross index them so i
    could browse them later (Thumbs plus comes to mind)
    As far as editing bad images out... don't take them in the first place
    cwvalle, Jan 10, 2004
  12. Tombo

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I keep a copy on each of my computers, and a third copy on the external
    120 gigabyte HD attached to my Wife's computer. Seems adequate. Most
    of them are also on the Webshots site.
    Ron Hunter, Jan 10, 2004
  13. Tombo

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I have about 1600 pictures on my computer, most of which were taken in
    the last 3 years. If I had 100 images per year from my 61 years, I
    would certainly view some of them quite often.

    Your questions about 50 good pictures from the 1000 indicate that you
    have no idea how most people use a camera. MOst of us are NOT artists,
    not photographers (professional), we just want to capture visual images
    for later enjoyment. NOt every shot needs to be a masterpiece one would
    hang in a museum. The shots I have of my late friend aren't
    photographic masterpieces, but their value to me exceeds the Mona Lisa.
    I will keep all of them, even the poor ones. And I look at the a LOT
    more often than if they were moulding in a shoe box somewhere.
    Ron Hunter, Jan 10, 2004
  14. Tombo

    Another Bob Guest

    As has been mentioned, I, too, do not see the point in throwing out any
    images, no matter how good or bad, once you have them on your computer. The
    long-term storage medium of choice, for today, is a writable CD. These are
    so cheap it becomes pointless to throw out any images just to save space.
    And why not throw them out? Because sooner or later you will discover image
    processing software, and soon after you will discover that you need many
    small, specific, elements contained in images that might be less than
    useful by themselves.

    Here is my storage strategy for all my digital data, including digital
    photographs and scans:

    Use at least two computers, connected by a LAN. (Two hard drives on a single
    computer will do if you just can't swing two computers.) Use one computer
    as the "working storage", and frequently copy its entire contents to the
    second computer. This guards against the inevitable occasional disk crash
    or OS screwup. In addition, I keep the originals and the working copy in
    separate directories when doing image editing. At regular intervals, burn
    another CD with all the photos not already committed to a CD. You might
    want to burn at least two CDs. Keep one set on hand, and store the other
    set at another site. After making and verifying the CDs, you can remove
    those images from the hard drives to make room for more. When you need an
    image, just copy the one you need from the on-hand CD.

    Yes, you might also save a set online at one service or another, but you
    really have no idea what they are doing with them, do you? And what will
    they do with them after they go out of business, or get sold to another
    business? Web sites come and go like clouds on a windy day, and often do so
    without notice. If you plan to sell those images or enforce your copyright,
    you had better have physical control of them.

    Commercial data storage services do exist, but the data is no more secure
    than it will be if you make a good choice about the storage location for
    your off-site CDs.

    Be prepared to sooner or later copy all these images to some future storage
    method. Digital media will continue to become obsolete regularly, and the
    pace of that will likely continue to increase.
    Another Bob, Jan 11, 2004
  15. Tombo

    Another Bob Guest

    Yes, indeed.
    Naw. My rule of thumb about taking digital pictures is: if it catches my
    interest for any reason, I take a picture.

    Well, sure, I take a lot of inferior shots. Later, I look through these for
    the interesting parts and crop them, and adjust the color balance,
    contrast, and so forth to create an image I like. If I am not actually
    documenting something, I might combine elements of several shots to make
    something new.

    Digital image processing software has changed the philosophy of taking
    Another Bob, Jan 11, 2004
  16. Tombo

    Neon John Guest

    I use hard drives for backup. That's about the cheapest cost per gigabyte
    there is right now. 80 gig drives are under $100 and Sam's Club has a 200 gig
    drive for just over $120. The advantage over every other type of backup is
    that it really isn't a backup. It's an actual copy.

    I use the inexpensive IDE removable hard drive slots that install in the
    computer case. An alternative is the USB/IDE adapters. I like the IDE thing
    because it simply plugs and unplugs and runs at full bus speed.

    I take the drive out, put it in a heavy plastic bag (to protect it from smoke
    in case of a fire) and put that in a fireproof safe. I have a job that runs
    every night and copies the main drive to the backup. I change drives every
    week and have 4 in the cycle so I can go back for up to 4 days if I need to.

    If my main drive ever fails, I simply pull out the most recent backup and
    stick it in. No "restore" involved.

    I keep all my photo files on a separate drive so that backups are
    uncomplicated. I do a backup every time I add photos to the drive.

    Neon John, Jan 11, 2004
  17. Keeping them backed up on one hard drive is not a good idea as it can fail
    anytime . I personnaly back mine up to cd and make 3 copies and store

    1 set in the house

    1 set in the garage in case the house burns down

    1 set at work in case a jumbo jet lands on the house & takes the garage with
    it ;-)

    The file sizes my camera produces are approximatley 2mb so can get approx
    350 photos on one CD . No doubt in a few years time the ability to read
    these will diminish but the capacity of storage medium increases every year
    so in 3 - 4 years time I'll probably transfer them onto another format which
    can accommodate maybe 10 - 20 cd's at a time . I'm confident one of the 3
    copies will still be readable then to transfer them ok ( I also keep a copy
    of them all on my PC's hard drive but don't rely on this for backup
    purposes ) .

    Graham .
    Graham Jackman, Jan 11, 2004
  18. Tombo

    dragon1964 Guest

    I toss virtually nothing. I may not like all of my shots but there is
    usually something redeeming in each one. Even if it is just the learning
    experience of looking back to see what I did wrong in composition, color
    balance, exposure, etc. I easily shoot 3000 to 4000 shots per year would
    not toss but a few. I don't print them all but they have meaning to me or
    to others. I do a lot of kids sporting events and the parents almost always
    want copies. I don't give them the full resolution but...CD-Rs are cheap...

    If you shoot in RAW, forget the CD-R, get a DVD-R (-RW/+R/+RW) or
    I burn 2 DVD-Rs every quarter (one in the house, one in the safe deposit
    box. Between burns, I back up my hard drive to en external disk every day
    (I'm a laptop user 80% of the time).
    dragon1964, Jan 11, 2004
  19. I see no reason not to keep all my photos online. 96 CDs at 650 MB
    each is only 62,400,000,000, 62 gigabytes, or around $100 today. I've
    got that much space *free* on my current dirve, actually.

    Of course I *also* have them backed up on various CDs and DVDs; need
    to make an additional set of DVDs for off-site, too.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jan 11, 2004
  20. Tombo

    MJ Guest

    Don't trust your pictures to just one brand of cd. Make 2 copies (at
    least) on different brands. Some are better than others, and you don't
    want to be the one to find out when you discover that the one copy
    that you have has become unreadable after a year or so. I speak (or
    write actually) from experience.

    MJ, Jan 12, 2004
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