Backing Up

The most valuable thing I carry around with me isn’t my computer or my cameras. It is my photos. I can replace any of the equipment I have, but I can’t replace the photos I’ve taken.

That raises a pretty big problem for me. How can I make sure that I don’t lose the photos I’ve taken?

What you see on Flickr really isn’t a back up. I shoot everything in RAW which is sort of the equivalent of a digital negative. What you see on Flickr is a compressed jpeg file which may or may not have been touched up with PhotoShop (I will sometimes do small adjustments to shadows). I want to keep all the original RAW files so I can go back at a later date and process my photos. What is on Flickr is maybe 20% of the photos I’ve taken.

I’ve adopted as a philosophy what I heard Alex Lindsay say about the Pixel Corps this week on TWIP: it doesn’t exist unless it exists in at least two places.

I spent all day yesterday trying shore up my photos by backing things up and getting them ready to send back to the US. It has been far more daunting than I had expected.

I have a 160gb external HD I use to store most of my photos. I originally brought an old, semi-broken 40gb iPod with me for photo storage, but I quickly out grew that (the iPod works, but only when plugged in. The battery is shot. It is basically just a hard drive at this point).

As I was burning DVDs yesterday (a process which takes forever) I realized that this is not something which will work for me in the long run. Each DVD is about 4.3gb. That is about the size of the memory card in my camera. I have a big stack of DVDs burned already, and I still have all of Japan and the Philippines to back up with will probably be another 10 DVDs. Carrying around a stack of 50 blank DVDs is heavy.

I have also had zero luck with online storage. has proven to be worse than useless. Since December, I’ve only managed to upload 200mb of files. Their uploading process takes up all the available space on my HD, and when the drive is full the upload will just quit. All the files which were “uploaded” then appear as files with a size of 0k later on. Worse, it tells me the files were uploaded. Not uploading would be better than wasting time on an upload only to be given false information regarding the success of the upload.

Sadly, I’m coming to the conclusion that the solution might lie in purchasing “cheap” external hard drives. Factoring in the cost of shipping, it might be the simplest and most reasonable solution. As it stands, I think I’m going to have to ship my 160gb drive back to the US. I need extra storage space and I need it now. My 160gb drive has lasted almost 6 months, which isn’t too bad. They keep getting cheaper and bigger while my photo creation is pretty steady.

While I will get another external HD, it doesn’t really serve as a backup. If the HD breaks or is lost, I’m still screwed.

I’m trying to balance cost, weight and reliability. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.