Building a Comprehensive Photo Storage and Backup System

25 thoughts on Building a Comprehensive Photo Storage and Backup System

  1. Good article. I’m not a big fan of using the online cloud for storage, because time and time again the companies in charge of those photos change ownership and/or policies towards what they can do with your photos. Nowadays you can get multiple terabyte storage drives that are just to dump data into from your laptop. I haven’t yet got to the point of having a second storage drive at another physical location yet, but it’s something I’ll likely want to do soon.

  2. Brilliant article. Nice to get some ideas for backup systems.
    Personally, as an aerospace engineer I like the idea of triple redundancy with dissimilar tech to prevent common mode failures. From this perspective I wouldn’t use three backups based on the same tech.
    Personally I currently only have one NAS in RAID 1 (duplication of drives) which gives me dual redundancy but with the array chassis as common mode. So I use a USB 3 external drive for achieving triple redundancy with no common mode failure possibilities. It’s not an ideal system as I don’t have off site storage. Note that I can get away with RAID1 because I’m not a pro, so my storage quantity demands are much lower.
    I would love cloud storage as it provides benefits for working mobile. But I probably agree with the author on the drawbacks that exist today (not to mention impact of businesses going out of business or being taken over, or policy changes). Most likely an off site storage system if implemented well, could serve as a cloud storage facility.

    I do have a question regarding the software used for making backups: can it also perform backups to an IP address? Eg, if I’m abroad and want to back something up on my synology NAS, I can use synology apps to do that, but it’d be better if I can use one app to do all.

  3. Interesting comments all over this thread so going to step in a bit deeper.

    By trade I am a Sr. IT Architect who travels the world solving customers hard IT problems and data backup and recovery is huge right now. I just worked a cloud based backup system for a critical system that serves 10’s of millions of citizens. Backup has always been a multi-layer system whether it was to tape and then tape to off-site, disk-to-disk, disk to cloud and now cloud only.

    OK, let me pull it back to this group; if history has shown us anything, onsite only backup is a risk and you have to judge for yourself the risk you are willing to take and the cost of that risk (what can you tolerate to loose (photos, tax returns, documents, etc) in the unlikely event of a ‘meltdown’ in your house or small office. For the home/SMB, fire, flood and theft are real concerns and the individual needs to evaluate their risk profile and then make some choices. In my risk profile I have decided that a home based Thunderbolt system, non-RAID solution, with two cloud providers is best.

    RAID use in the home or any size business is not a data back-up technology; it’s a methodolgy to survive local disk failure in your on-site backup system(s) and also to restore data quicker than cloud for the average user. I use time machine for fast, local disaster recovery in-case of a disk failure.

    Major cloud backup players are not RAID, they are object based with very advanced algorithms to protect data (if you care to google white papers on AWS, Azure, Cleversafe and Backblaze object based systems). For my personal use I chose Backblaze and Amazon Prime because of my knowledge of their disk backup technologies (and Prime Backup comes with my Prime account for free).

    Moral to this story is look at your risk profile, your current system(s) and evaluate where you are today and where you want to be. On-site USB or RAID maybe what you want but maybe not, you decide. There are MANY choices for local and cloud and no correct answers but mileage will vary 🙂

  4. 2 Synology 716 as NAS. One in your office and another in home (or your mother home) . They have the tools to Sync and backup from all your workstations.
    You covered all the situations.

  5. As others have mentioned he really needs an offsite backup. If you’re wondering why, it’s in case the equipment gets stolen, the office gets flooded or if there’s a fire

  6. Agree with the others, i.e. an excellent solution. For what it’s worth I use CrashPlan as my primary backup and an external HD with iMac Time Capsule as secondary. I chose CrashPlan for a offsite solution; a co-worker’s home was burglarized and the thief walked off with computer and external HD.

  7. If you have a laptop and dont wont be always connected with cables, this is an inmobile solution, and I don’t like to “play” with cables on and off. Give a real wireless solution, and I’m happy. I use Synology Nas system throw my home network, or from every where else.

  8. Great advice on all and I follow these practices, except for the time machine use. I have had too many failed recovery aftempts throught time machine, its unreliable at best and a gamble. Instead I use Super Duper (the paid version) to create a bootable clone of my OS drive ( which also happens to be an iMac 5k with a 3tb fusion drive) and super duper allows me to use a scheduled incremental backup. Recoveries are easy and reliable from super duper and I can always use my bootbale clone to recover a failed OS drive. Plan for the worst and hope for the best! Thank you for the article!

  9. RAID makes no sense outside of a server room, imho. Putting two or more eggs in the same basket. I dont need the ability to hot swap a drive. And modern threats like ransomware need more creative thinking. Not only do we need offsite backup, but offline backup too. RAID is just expensive with very little benefits for the added cost.

  10. Though RAID is not back up, RAID can be a very important technology in your local on-site backup schema.

    Without going in to the details, RAID 5 and above is a technology that spreads your data across multiple disk drives in your local “array” so if one of the local drives fails it can be replaced and data fully reconstituted without loosing any data. Slow but it works. So, it’s a very good way to protect data from ‘routine’ disk failures. BUT, it’s not great in case of a disaster like tornado, flood, fire, etc. If you loose all your drives, you loose all your data.

    So, you still need a methodology that includes local and offsite. Local disk is used for the fast backup and restoration of lost or archived data instead of from the cloud which for many is slow. Offsite can be many things from SATA HDD’s to USB2.0/3.0 drives, to thumb flash drives and many others you put in a safety deposit box, etc. For many of us Cloud Backup services are quite ubiquitous today and the safety deposit box has been cancelled but as I mentioned in my earlier post please evaluate your individual situation, what you can afford to loose and then decide the best strategy for your given needs. No right answer but many great options.

  11. Agree, very good system, very high end but for a pro like the author not knocking it. Great setup.

    I use a 4TB external Thunderbolt drive for Time Machine to include photo’s. I also have some external 2TB USB 3 drive for older/archive historical stuff and use both Backblaze and Amazon Prime for cloud backup of my iMac and MacBook Pro (I have 100Mbps FIOS so bandwidth isn’t a problem). The only drawback to Backblaze, if you want to call it that, is if it does not see a drive for 30 days it deletes the backup for that drive. I travel a lot and when I don’t take my Macbook Pro with me I have to get the wife to boot it every few weeks to ensure no Backblaze deletions (she is always on the iMac so no problems with it timing out).

    Thinking about simplifying by putting a time machine compatible NAS in the basement (since I have a 1Gbps LAN in the house) and then Only one cloud backup service. Lots of options available for local and cloud but you should have a backup of some sort to include local and cloud system in my opinion. Results may vary 🙂

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