Six Months of Digital Housekeeping

The desktop computer I never use
The desktop computer I never use
After 6 months, I finally arrived back in Wisconsin yesterday. I’ll be here until June 11 when I fly to Colorado to take part in the annual TBEX Travel Bloggers conference.

My mother’s house is the closest thing I have in the world to a home base if for no other reason than I have a desktop computer here. However, I’m only here a few weeks out of the year and I haven’t been here in almost 6 months, when I flew to Ushuaia, Argentina for my trip to Antarctica.

It isn’t something people usually think about, but when I computer goes unused for half a year, there are tons of updates that pile up. Here is a list of everything I had to do once I flipped the on switch:

  • Download Lightroom 4.0 (It wasn’t out when I was here in January)
  • Update Microsoft Office (they always have updates and they are always over 100mb)
  • Upgrade OSX and various patches (over 1gb of files to download)
  • Upgrade my instant messaging software, Adium
  • Upgrade iStats Menu
  • Download the new RAW file package for Photoshop CS5
  • Install the new Adobe AIR software
  • Upgrade iTunes
  • Upgrade Spotify
  • Download the new version of Photomatix
  • Upgrade the operating systems on my iPhone and iPad
  • Upgrade the firmware on my Kindle Touch
  • Install the new version of Civilization V
  • Download and install Diablo 3 :)
  • Update all of the software (which is basically everything listed above) for my old backup laptop

After all that was done, I then had to attend to all the photos I had taken over the last six months.

I keep 2 external USB hard drives at my mothers house where I archive all my photos. I transfer images from the USB hard drives I carry with me to these hard drives where the images are archived. I had a little over 200gb of images from Antarctica, Australia and the Southwest that I had to backup.

It turns out that both drives are now full and I wasn’t able to back everything up, so I had to drive to Best Buy to purchase 2, 2TB hard drives. Once I got those installed I had to copy everything on the old archive drives to the new ones. It turns out it takes 15 hours to transfer 1TB of data from one hard drive to another via USB 2.0. As I’m writing this, I still have 1 hour to go on the first drive and haven’t started backing up the second yet.

I’m really not happy with my photo archiving system. I should get something a bit more robust than a couple of USB hard drives. I’ve looked into getting a Drobo but I just haven’t pulled the trigger.

Everyone always mentions cloud storage, but there are some big problems with it. For starters it is really expensive. You will pay well over $100/month for 1TB of storage and for that much I could just buy a new 1TB hard drive every month. It is also next to impossible to upload 1TB of data when you are constantly working out of hotel rooms around the world.

Once all the updating and backing up is done, I have to start on the process of editing all 10,000 of the photos I have backlogged. I tend to stop editing photos if I know I’ll be coming to Wisconsin because the process is so much faster when I’m working on a 27″ iMac. The iMac is faster and better than my laptop in every way you can measure: processor power, disk space and memory. If I could travel with a 27″ monitor, I’d do it.

So for the next 3 weeks, I’m going to be a photo editing hermit, shut away in my mother’s basement trying to get caught up.

Wish me luck!

14 thoughts on “Six Months of Digital Housekeeping”

  1. Hi Gary,

    I have a iomega storcenter, which gives me cloud service for free for my 3TB disk. I bought a 2 x 3TB disk, which I use in RAID 1 (automatically bakcs up the second disk), and I can access it for free wherever I am in the world through a software and a proper http access.

    There’s also the QNAP disks, which offer the same software, and the disks are not expensive. I spent 500 euros on my 2x3TB iomega disks. If I divide that by 6TB, each TB is cheap, and I get the cloud software for free…

    It won’t keep you from doing a lot of editing, but if you get good wireless connection, you can upload your RAW files through the web directly to your home…

  2. Gary! While you’re close by, do you have time to meet up with a fellow blogger? I’d love to pick your brain about your travels and blogging. I’m a newbie to blogging (my blog is about happiness rather than travel, but I have wanderlust for sure as well). I’m looking at ways to make a big leap -would love to chat? Let me know if you have some time!

  3. Even though it’s a backup service, you may want to check out CrashPlan as they offer the seed backup service with a 1-2 TB hard drives to help jump start getting your photos online. We’re currently backing up 2+ GB with our 2 laptops and 5 hard drives. It does mean that I need to periodically plug in external hard drives to be sure that CrashPlan can scan, it is an easy service to use.

    Enjoy your time at home and see you soon in Colorado!

  4. Are you backing up JPGs or RAW? If it’s JPGs you could look into Flickr, a pro account has no bandwidth or storage limits and is only $25/year. You can’t upload RAW though.

    I use Crashplan to back up to a small external HDD I carry with me, and then whenever the internet is fast enough, it backs up to the cloud and I upload all the images to Flickr. There is definitely a bandwidth issue in certain areas (Laos, Indonesia, etc.). During those time I just depend on the external drive.

    I left my two 23″ monitors at home, and miss them terribly. :)

  5. Yeah, what a pain that is. I just spent hours reviewing and editing photos from this past weekend. I can’t imagine what it must be like to do 6 months worth! This reminds me I need to get a bigger USB external hard drive and update Spotify too! :)

  6. I know what you mean. I have lots of pictures on my Photo magic (my trusty portable camera wallet) it has seen 2 hdd upgrades so far it is running a 500 gig hdd now. it also backups up to a 1 TB drive and that magic drive is usb 1.0 that takes a LONG time to back up to the pc to 1 tb. Now that usb 3 is out, I may make the jump to usb 3 photo wallet since I hate waiting for that drive to upload the files to my sata 1 tb hdd

  7. have you looked at crashplan? it backs up whenever you have internet, it would most likely take you forever to get it all in the cloud but it is amazing when you have it. It has already saved my butt once. I do keep hard drive backups of my stuff as well because it would be a pain to have to download TB of data but if something terrible happened and all my hard drives failed I still have the “cloud”

  8. “You will pay well over $100/month for 1TB of storage”

    I have over a terabyte of data backed up right now (and counting) on “the cloud” via Backblaze and only pay $50 a year. They offer unlimited storage.

    • I think I looked into them once. They are a backup service. I’m not sure you can back up an external hard drive with them.

      • Backblaze backs up external hard drives, but there’s a catch – they have to stay connected to the computer with the account. I suppose that’s to limit the amount of storage to a certain extent, but it was $50 well-spent.

  9. I dropped the hard drive I use to archive photos last week. I have an almost complete backup at home, but the cost and hassle of getting somebody there to buy a new hard drive, copy everything over and courier it to me is not insignificant, so I’ve sent it off to a data recovery centre in Bangkok that will send me a quote later this week. They estimate it’ll cost between 5,000 and 20,000 baht.

    I don’t want to go through this again, especially in remote places, so I’ve been looking at cloud storage. Live Drive seems to be one of the most affordable options: 2TB for $15,95, set up to sync automatically. It’ll be a hassle in places with slow connections, but I think that if go through my photos quickly, to get rid of duplicates, etc. before uploading, I should manage.

  10. I’ll be spending the next month doing similar things. Photo editing, and trying to speed up my site.

    Good luck! See you at TBEX. :)

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