Archiving your Work
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    Archiving your Work

    Hey Everyone,

    So I don't know if I am putting this in the right place or not, but here goes nothing.

    Since we are all either digital artists or have copies of our work in digital form I wanted to create a thread where we can all share how we back up our work.

    Recently I had a series of disasters that wiped out all of my work (just 6 years of my life nothing big). Now that I am getting my footing again and starting to create I want to share some ideas, hopefully sparing others the pain of losing their work.

    Okay so this is what I do to back up/ protect my work. I have an extra hard drive where I put all of the files that I am not working on. Then in a separate location I have a bunch of dvds of my work.

    A separate location is a must it is likely that a disaster won't hit both places at once. If it does you will have bigger problems to worry about.

    Hard Drives are great. they can hold lots of data and can rewrite as much as you'd want. The downside is they usually only last about 5 years on average sometimes a bit more or less. Also they need to be turned on and spun up once or twice a year or they cease to work.

    Which is why I choose dvds for the separate location (I didn't want to have a HD shipped to me so I can turn it on). dvds are great because unless they're damaged the data will be there. Downside again is that they only last about 5 years so you have to reburn the disks every so often which could get tedious.

    What do you think? How do you archive your work?

    Simple is not Easy.
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    What about a flash drive? How long do those things last?

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    I've always used CDs rather than DVDs, they seem to last a pretty long time (I've got a bunch of CDs that are well over ten years old and they still work fine.)

    I've been toying with the idea of using one of those online storage services... but I haven't researched this yet so I have no idea which ones are any good, or how much they cost.

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    furiana flash drives are great. Solid state drives have no moving parts so they last a long time.

    Though they haven't been around long so who actually knows if their tests on them are accurate.

    The trick with them is that there are only a certain number of reads and writes before you can't use them. While the number varies it's probably somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000.

    I haven't seen any real difference between the lifetime of a cd and a dvd. I have used dvds that are 10 years old, but have also run into cds and dvds that are useless after 3 years. I think it all has to do with the manufacturer. All dvds/cds are not created equal.

    Queen Gwenevere I also thought of online storage. However you have to pay every month and I wasn't sure I wanted to add another monthly fee.

    Most say you have unlimited storage from $5- $25.

    Does anyone else have some experience with Online Storage?

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    We have a (headless) home server that backs up everything on my computer each morning @ 6am (because I'm never up then so it just runs and is done by the time I do get up). There's some way that my husband set it up that it backs up on one drive and then it backs up certain parts on another drive kind of like a ghost image of the files or something. I'm not entirely sure what it's called (I know there's a term, but I can't think of it at the moment..), but I'm happy as long as it works. (He handles all the tech stuff around here.. It's his hobby and he enjoys it, which is fine with me because it's not really my thing.LOL)

    I know a few people who do the online backup services and they're pretty happy with those. They aren't really expensive either. I suppose there's something comforting about having copies somewhere else that isn't your house.. If something crazy happens like a fire or your stuff gets stolen, then you still have copies that nothing can happen to elsewhere..

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOELB View Post
    furiana flash drives are great. Solid state drives have no moving parts so they last a long time.

    Though they haven't been around long so who actually knows if their tests on them are accurate.

    The trick with them is that there are only a certain number of reads and writes before you can't use them. While the number varies it's probably somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000.
    No they've been around for a while, what is new is that they're being released for the consumer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive

    If you have your own website, you can also use online storage in that way. I keep my backups on several drives and replace them after a certain amount of years. Some items are kept on dvd cd backups, but I learned to keep smaller chunks of data in various places.

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    a lot of my archival dvds went unreadable after probably 3 or 4 years of simply lying on the shelf, never been exposed to direct sunlight or moisture/temperature drops.
    CD/hdd backups are more reliable in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOELB View Post
    Does anyone else have some experience with Online Storage?
    I've been using ADrive and don't have too many complaints. They don't mention that you can "only" upload the lesser of either 1000 files or 1GB a data in one go if you're using the "free" storage (seven bucks a month gets you FTP). Sometimes the Java upload applet hangs or crashes, and if you're taking the freebie, you have to track your file changes yourself, but Cloud storage makes you effectively theft, fire, loss, etc. proof, unlike a portable or a thumb drive.

    Biggest risk: if the hosting company goes under (NEVER delete the original from your own drive!). Something like that happened with an image-hosting company a few years back, and thousands of users lost millions of photos. There's other services too, so shop around...

    Pretty much the wave of the future, methinks...in a few years, thumb and portable drives will seem as quaint as floppies...

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    Thanks Auslander, I have also heard great things about Mozy from friends. If you sign up for 2 years it'll only cost you around $104, the cheapest I've seen so far.

    Hard drives are the cheapest option overall if you have a friend that will hold onto it for you. Especially since you can get a terabyte for around $70.

    According to google, after your hard drive has a smart status scan error, you have around 60 days before it fails. Also the majority of hard drive's smart statuses won't give you a heads up on when it will fail. Here is a less technical version of the google report.

    I have had hard drives last 2-15 years. The one I have now has lasted me 10 years and survived a fire. So it seems that it's anyone's guess when your hard drive will fail and it's best to have two copies of every file.

    I did some math and figured out that if you wanted to store 1 TB of data for 25 years it would cost you:

    $1,300 with Mozy
    $270 on DVD-R (That's if you burned a new disc every 10 years. The manufacturers claim 35-100 years from what I've seen. Personally I use Memorex and have had no problems)
    $250 on a Hard Drive

    Though theoretically, perhaps the absolutely cheapest would be on flash drive. From what I've heard flash drives can't fail mechanically. So you write it, put it in a safe place, and it's good forever. The cost then is irrelevant since you will never need to buy another one unless tragedy strikes or usb ports become archaic.

    Does anyone know if there are statistics for the lifespan of flash drives?

    What do you think the best way to archive all your work would be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOELB View Post
    I did some math and figured out that if you wanted to store 1 TB of data for 25 years it would cost you:

    $1,300 with Mozy
    $270 on DVD-R (That's if you burned a new disc every 10 years. The manufacturers claim 35-100 years from what I've seen. Personally I use Memorex and have had no problems)
    $250 on a Hard Drive
    Don't forget Moore's Law...as drives continue to plummet in price, the services offering cloud storage will decrease in cost as well. I'd wager that by 2015, you'll be able to store 1 TB online for free, probably as a promotion for some other online venture, like whatever Facebook turns into by that time ("Now join FriendFace and get up to 5 TB of FREE storage space!").

    Google's also pushing hard for a cloud OS version of Chrome, where all your apps and data are stored elsewhere...all you need is a browser to access it. And (of course) a belief that Google isn't out to take over the world, starting with your private information...

    On a side note, I've never trusted either recordable CDs or DVDs as a "permanent" storage medium since a friend of mine showed me what happens if you put one in a microwave oven for 2 seconds...

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    One issue that I've heard with solid state drives is that they are more easily corruptible -- though I've never had a flash drive corrupt a file without doing something stupid to it (as far as I can remember).

    Mines similar to others, 2 hard drives, one for backup, then a third in a fireproof safe (instead of off site). I'd like to get more secure though, this feels a little precarious still. I may ftp to my server or look into an online service. This thread might give me some ideas...

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    I've also had bad experiences with losing a lot of data so my dad set up a home server and it regularly backs up all our stuff (that we have assigned to be backed up). I also have most of my essential stuff on a few flash drives. Bad thing about them is that they are small and easily lost even if you think you alway keep them carefully in one place. I had one that just disappeared from my drawer, never took it anywhere.

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    DVD works just fine for me, it is easy to store and easier to transport than hard drives, by the time they expire we surely will have something new again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Auslander View Post
    Don't forget Moore's Law...as drives continue to plummet in price, the services offering cloud storage will decrease in cost as well.
    A solid point Auslander, I would even expect that in the next 10- 20 years we have a whole new way of storing data. Cloud storage is interesting and the more I learn about it the more it seems the most convenient offsite option.

    For those with pcs you might want to look into P2P Backup. It's a p2p backup service that once you join puts your files on someone elses computer to store. They encrypt it so in theory the other users can't use/view it.

    The most exciting thing I've seen for cloud storage is Carbonite. You can get 5 years unlimited storage for $200.

    Quote Originally Posted by eekolite View Post
    One issue that I've heard with solid state drives is that they are more easily corruptible -- though I've never had a flash drive corrupt a file without doing something stupid to it (as far as I can remember).

    Mines similar to others, 2 hard drives, one for backup, then a third in a fireproof safe (instead of off site). I'd like to get more secure though, this feels a little precarious still. I may ftp to my server or look into an online service. This thread might give me some ideas...
    I've heard the same thing. Flash drives are funny you can't get a straight answer on how long they last. I did find this though. I found a couple other sites saying the same thing. Basically for flash drives they expect you to use the read/write limit before age becomes a factor. Age wise they say the data can stay on there around 10 years. If that's true then there is no reason to use it to backup or archive data. Dvds and hard drives are cheaper and would last just as long.

    Though if anyone has some solid info on this feel free to share.

    eekolite how does your safe due with protection from heat? My thinking is that it would be nice not to have to backup offsite, but it's not just the flames but also the heat that could destroy the media in the safe.

    I wish we could get one of the heavy hitters to join in on this. I can't help but feel that those who have been doing digital art for a long time would have already crossed this bridge and would have valuable advice on this.

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    Saw a TV show recently where it said some DVDs become unreadable after a year. Certainly a good quality HD, well maintained, will last longer than a DVD on average, and obviously hold a lot more. My internet connection is not yet fast enough for remote backup (although they've given me the option to upgrade to 20Gb for free other people have noted it's unreliable) so I use HD backup.

    Every month I make a full backup onto drive 2. Every day I do an incremental backup onto that backup set. And every two weeks I do another full backup onto drive 3. A full backup of 20Gb only takes a few minutes and the incremental back-up, scanning for any file that has been changed, takes on average 10 seconds. I use velociraptor drives, though, which makes a massive difference.

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    Since I'm still in school and my life follows a semester schedule, it's quite easy for me to back up all of my current work online. I'm too cheap to pay for backing up everything, so the current files save me from any catatrophic loss. I like Dropbox, as it's much easier to get at your documents from other computer than some of the other online back-up sites.

    True story: I actually had a harddrive crash this past semester. If I hadn't already backed up my files online, I would've been screwed. Thankfully I did.

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    Hmm... the free Dropbox service does look handy for keeping small backups of current work (I'm using a flash drive for that now, an extra backup offsite would be good.)

    Man, I'm bookmarking all these storage sites.

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    The more I look at it the more that it seems the media doesn't matter too much.

    All of them roughly have the same lifetime and the same risks. I guess in the end all you need to really worry about is to have at least 2 copies, 1 copy in a separate location, and something that works for you.

    Unless that is someone has a brilliant idea we missed.

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    I used to keep a nice, organized back-up on a CD. Worked great, held a ton.
    But in the last few years I've gotten lazy... My work is spread out over a few memory sticks and SD cards. Yea, not the best idea.
    I just got my new laptop and I'm using that as an incentive to go through all my computer stuffs, get it organized and then back it up. I'm lucky nothing has crashed and died yet...
    I'll probably back it up on either a USB stick or a CD. They work fairly well for me.

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    I have a little usb hard drive that automatically "syncs" when I plug it into my computer. So the idea is that I use both my computer and the external everyday to back up my work, and then if one happens to fail, I know to replace it quickly to ensure my work is backed up. Of course this doesn't protect against physical catastrophe like a fire, but I work mostly traditionally so I can't really back up and protect my work anyway...;P

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    online storage seems the safest. try dropbox.com, it's basically a folder on your computer, and anything you put in it automatically uploads online. you get 2gb for free, but you can get up to 5gb for free if you recommend it (through a given link) to your friends and they use the service. Or you can pay per month for way larger sizes.

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    yea I am up to over 20 gb so far and cost wise I can't afford online storage. I also have an external HD that I use to back up too. But after a fire and another catastrophe I firmly believe in having something offsite.

    I have lost all of my work twice.

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    I would recommend harddisk over DVDs anytime.

    DVDs can deteriorate after a few years. I've a few that were unreadable in a few spots (cyclic redundancy error).

    Definitely go for harddisk and online storage.

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    I agree, but how easy would it be to use them for offsite backup as well?

    I have my offsite backup in another state so I have been mailing dvds out.

    So I guess the question is can a HD be light enough to not cost a fortune and durable to make it through the mail?

    Last edited by JOELB; July 18th, 2010 at 09:15 AM.
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    A quick update for those who care.

    I have found in the last couple years that the best option was several external Hard drives in at least two locations. One is a local wifi backup and the other is an offsite usb drive.

    Here is why.

    1)I have found that hard drives are more compatible than dvds. I have burned dvds for awhile now with my work on them, but as technology has changed some of these dvds stopped being readable. They aren't damaged in any way, just that some computers read them as blank when they aren't.

    2) Hard drives hold more data so there is no messing with a ton of dvds.

    3) I have found that a dvd drive is more likely to wear out than a usb port.

    4) Hard drives survive better. I have had hard drives survive both a fire and being crushed. Where as dvds did not.

    I did the online storage thing with two companies. In one case there was a mismatch between their software and their storage. So it said it was backed up, but it wasn't. In the other case it took way to long to back up due to their servers being overloaded, in some cases a couple days. Which meant that if there was a problem in those days my data would have been lost. When it comes to archiving better to have a simple and easily controlled system.

    As for solid state or not. For archiving if you can afford it go solid state. It lasts longer and because this is just archiving you aren't going to be using it enough for the read and write count to matter.

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    So to round out this topic. I use uncompressed tiff files for my scanned artwork and the .psd for my digital work. The lowest resolution I use is 300 ppi, 8bits for quick sketches. I use 600ppi for 3in by 5in work and 900ppi for 8in by 10in work both at 16 bits.

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    I just saw this thread, I might as well throw in my two cents.

    Yes, definitely use hard drives for backups. Once I get a couple more hard drives I'm going to pull all the data from by CD/DVD backups and put them on my hard drives. They last longer, take up less room, and can quickly be copied from one hard drive to another.

    I have not found a cloud storage system that has the features I want (syncing folders in place) that have also not incorrectly synced my files, causing whole folders to be deleted on all my computers (because it thought I deleted them). Luckily I have an external backup so that saved me. For remote syncing and sharing files I used to use SugarSync (over DropBox and Google Drive), but SugarSync was the service that removed whole folders. I'm starting to transition to BitTorrent Sync, and I love it so far.

    Make sure your backups are automatic. You shouldn't have to be thinking about making back ups. I have all my files in 3 locations. The first is of course my main hard drive, the one I work on. The second hard drive is an internal backup drive (in the same computer as my main). I use SyncBack to have my backup drive mirror my work drive. It does this automatically during my lunch break at 12:30 P.M. It looks at what files have changed between the two hard drives and only copies the difference, so it usually only takes 2 minutes to keep a terabyte worth's of data synced daily.

    I also have an external hard drive as a backup. There's no way to fully automate that because it's not physically attached to the computer all the time. You don't want it permanently attach external backups because if your computer explodes (lightning strike, power surge, faulty power supply, bomb, etc., you'll loose all your backups in one event). So twice a week I have a recurring task on my digital to-do list that reminds me to plug in my external hard drive and sync the files to it. I use SyncBack to do this as well. That external hard drive is kept in my panic box (the one with all my important documents that I take with me in case of emergencies). It's not as safe as having off-site backups, but if my entire house explodes...well, yeah.

    I do plan on using BitTorrent Sync to have remote backups of all my files. Right now it's just my freelance work.

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    I have my work across many drives now.. I make more copies adn DVD and CD are not long term. I tested that out long ago adn been working with computers for over 36 years.. Now a good Hard drive that is used and is spinning up every day can last any were from 15 to 20 year or more. A hard drive is mechanical and yes it can fail but the drive data is still there and can be recover. Now when a SD ram or memory ram lose data it is gone or will be some what damaged. I make copies to drive i don't run ever day a drive use for back up should not be use for any other things but for the files you want to save. Back up programs will help save data compressed but if the program fails the date it saves is not going to be use full.. I watch for sale of 1 to 2 TB drive now. I have 2 750GB drive in my laptop and about 11 drive 7 of the 2.5 size drives and 5 3.5 full size drives.. Data is save off adn no program data is saved with the Art work..a virus will screw your drive up and you can lose it. Take care if you use you computer for anything more than you art work you are running the risk of losing it more..every time you click on site you could lose it..i try to keep my work system limited to my work.. Yes a good 1 to TB drove is near $100 but what is your all of your work worth? Think of the lost.. i had this happen one .. 18 GB of data lock on a drive that took a hit from online bug it killed the index adn show the drive as unformulated. it took me 3 month to gather the programs and do my own drive recovery. i took that and did drive recover for people as long as it was spinning drive i could get data.. I stop after ever Arm chair want a be tech in the area started to cut rate my pricing ..hard to beat $10 to $20 when i was charging by drive size and making about $120 for a 40GB drive..I one recover data not OS.

    I still do the work but my security consulting for small and large Businesses. I am not doing much recovery work right now ..too many people still undercutting the market.. It use to be $2500 to get you drive taken apart adn the disk inside read and recover ..its getting much cheaper now. Build up my studio again so I going to be rebuilding my storage system. look at find a way to use all of my drives for storage and get the filing system cleaned up as doing Video adn photo work now.. It lot of data ..my current work folder is well over 35GB and that not counting the last 33 year of digital work(I started my art on the Amiga computers) So i have to have lot of room to grow ..

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  35. #29
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    Print them.

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  36. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcr View Post
    Print them.
    This. A good quality print is probably going to last longer than most digital data!
    Plus, it will also keep its colors and ensures that years down the road everyone will know what your work is supposed to look like - it won't have changed into something surreal, won't have faded, and there's no data to be "corrupted".
    I have all my work printed at a photo store as A4 sized portfolio pieces (they cost just 50 cents each). Some work I have printed as large posters. Stored properly I hope they'll keep for 20+ years, just like other photos from my parents' old albums.
    And printed, many of my digital paintings look better than on the screen.

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