What is your solution to managing your digital photos and videos? (Because mine sucks)


posted Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 12:59 PM EDT


The way I manage my digital data sucks, but as far as I know I'm in too deep to do anything about it. Hi, I'm Jaron, and I like setting the security of my business life on the edge of a razor blade. 

Seriously though, I do a lot to secure my data, but I'm aware of the weaknesses in that strategy. It seems that BackBlaze, one of the more popular online backup solutions, has their finger on the pulse of people like me, because in their recent blog they straight up ask what we all are doing with all our data. It's the first time I can recall that a company that does widespread data backup actually asked us as a specific community how we are handling the massive amount of information we all have on computers and hard drives. 

Below I'm going to highlight the questions they ask, and answer them from my perspective (I'll also be sharing my answers with them as they have requested via this email). I feel like this is a good place to start a conversation here at Imaging Resource, but I also want BackBlaze to get as much feedback as possible. To that end, I encourage all of you to submit your current storage solutions to BackBlaze as well. 

Here is what they have asked us to consider:

  • Are you using direct-attached drives, NAS (Network-Attached Storage), or offline storage for your media?
  • Do you use the cloud for media you’re actively working on?
  • Do you back up or archive to the cloud?
  • Did you have a catalog or record of the media that you’ve archived that you use to search and retrieve media?
  • What’s different about how you work in the field (or traveling) versus how you work in a studio (or at home)?
  • What software and/or hardware currently works for you?
  • What’s the biggest impediment to working in the way you’d really like to?
  • How could the cloud work better for you?

So these questions immediately get to the heart of my main problem with data backup: data caps. So to answer their first question, yes. I do backup all my data on offline storage. I shoot predominantly video, so I do not use a NAS. A NAS is super helpful for accessing information from anywhere or backing it up to the cloud, but the sheer volume of information I have has overwhelmed every NAS device I have ever owned. Right now I have two 20 plus terabyte drives redundant off each other storing data from the last five years of video shoots. I use a G-Speed Studio and a LaCie 6Big. The G-Speed is my main "working drive" and the 6Big is my backup. Beyond that, I have a few other smaller, slower drives with older data that I have shelved. Mix in a few smaller SSDs and portable hard drives and you have my entire storage ecosystem.


I do not store anything locally on my computer. Everything is on external drives. Why? Because a clean computer is a fast computer. 

As far as cloud, and I don't know how you all do it, but I only use it to send and receive packets of data with clients and my team. That means everything on my DropBox (which I use primarily) is redundant from my hard drives, but only selective as my DropBox storage is limited (I have the 1 TB business plan). 

Ok so here is the big question: Why don't I have an online backup of my entire library? 

Answer: Because it's too much damn data. 

I have terabytes of data that would take months to upload, and given that Comcast caps my data after not even a twentieth of my total hard drive capacity, not only would this be slow, but it would absolutely dominate my network. Not only that, I am shooting constantly. My last project was two days in Sedona, and that ended up being 642GB of additional data. If I hit three-quarters of a terabyte in just one project and I'm shooting regularly, you can imagine how this is pretty much a Sisyphean task. 

I have too much data to upload, and the amount I would need to do is constantly increasing. 

I think that pretty much covers all their points, including how the cloud could work better (unlimited bandwidth and faster internet I guess, but that's not really something BackBlaze can help with) and really well illustrates the biggest impediment to working how I would really like to: sheer volume. It's not that I don't want to have a remote backup of my data. I just don't see how I can at this point.


BackBlaze asked two final questions, and these are the two that I think they want you to focus on when you send them your feedback:

  1. How are you currently backing up your digital photos, video files, and/or file libraries/catalogs? Do you have a backup system that uses attached drives, a local network, the cloud, or offline storage media? Does it work well for you?
  2. Imagine your ideal digital asset backup setup. What would it look like? Don’t be constrained by current products, technologies, brands, or solutions. Invent a technology or product if you wish. Describe an ideal system that would work the way you want it to.

For me, what I am presently doing does work well, but only because my house has not burned down. I sit here, knowing it's a completely flawed system but I am simultaneously powerless to do anything about it. 

In my case, the ideal, perfect workflow would probably look like this:

  1. A company sends me a very, very large hard drive. I put everything I currently have on it, and I mail it to them. This whole process is included in a monthly fee. Now they have all my data, and it's in the cloud. 
  2. I can then set a drive I have to mirror with this online storage, and since it's identical, that sync takes seconds. 

Now the next step can go one of two ways. 

  1. I now sync only what is new, as it comes in. This is much more manageable because the amount of data I have is significantly smaller, though still enormous. 
  2. Someone shows up at my door with a new hard drive once a month that I fill with the new data, and that automatically gets backed up to the cloud and synced with my mirrored drive. 

I really don't like option one, because Comcast only gives me about a terabyte of digital data a month, and one project (as highlighted above) would burn through most of that monthly allowance in one shot. Plus it would take days to upload that kind of data, and it would clog up my bandwidth. As an avid online gamer, this isn't something I'm interested in.


So there you have it: my totally unrealistic dream of true data backup. So what do you guys do? How do you manage your information? Is anyone in the same boat as me? Would any of you use this mythical monthly service that I describe? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to tell BackBlaze as well!