Software Review: Backup and Storage

>> Tuesday, 16 January 2007

With all pictures saved on digital media backup and storage becomes of vital importance for the photographer. Give it a though: How many pictures do you have on, say, a 250GB external drive? Perhaps 13,000 (250GB divided by an average file size of 18MB) How much work do you have invested in that hard drive? Over one year's worth of work perhaps! (Say you spend 10 minutes preparing each picture (for example "developing" it from a raw file to a finished tiff or jpg plus adding keywords): 10 minutes times 13,000 makes 2166 hours. How many hours do you work in a year?...) So you see, it makes sense to make sure you don't loose that information. I have had three external disks fail on me over the last six months (all LaCie Design by Porsche 250GB USB drives by the way. I have since moved to Western Digital). If you don't have a backup of your finished pictures you may well end up loosing a year's worth of work. So is it worth spending that additional 100€ for a backup drive? (Or even better, buy two.) Some day I will write a piece on storage and on backup strategies, but not today. Here are some software that will help you manage your data.

Genie BackupManager Pro
Genie Soft

Their tag line is "Always have a backup plan", which is a good start. They have different versions of the GBM program: Pro, Home and Server. I know the Pro version. The program is quite easy to use. You go through a wizard to define what data you want to backup (there's no point in backing up the whole hard drive. Only backup your own user data.), where to save the backup (disk, HD,...), what type of backup to do (incremental, full, compressed,...), how many versions of the backup your should save etc. And finally you can schedule automatic backup. A good idea is to schedule a daily backup job and then perhaps less frequent ones too.

Buy it: | |

SmartSync Software

SmartSync is a bit simpler than Genie and does not let you do all the things that GBM does. Nevertheless it is a very useful and good program. I find it particularly useful if you have large volumes of data that you want to "backup" (in quotation marks since this is not what I'd really consider a backup). Say you have a large disk with lots of pictures (or other files). Perhaps 200 GB of data. There is no way you will be able to do "real" backups of that regularly, i.e. make a copy of the data and store several (successively older) version of the data. A) It takes too much time to copy that much data regularly, and B) it takes too much space to have, say 10 copies of that data. So what do you do? You make one (or better, two) copies of that data and then you make sure that the copy (the "backup") is constantly kept "synchronised" with the original. This is really more of "synchronisation" or "mirroring" than backing up, in my opinion. But it is in practice the only thing you can do with that kind of volumes. So, what I do with my "develops" is: I have one "original" disk which is the one I store the "operational" tiffs on. I then have a "backup" copy of that which is synchronised every night. In addition, I have a second "backup" copy which is synchronised less frequently and stored off-site. SmartSync manages that kind of situation perfectly.

Buy it: | |

More software and book reviews here.


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