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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Image Back up - In the field...Possibly an odd question this one, and maybe I need to do more research. Having suffered failures in the past ...
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Old 20-10-2009, 20:30   #1 (permalink)
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Image Back up - In the field

Possibly an odd question this one, and maybe I need to do more research. Having suffered failures in the past I get very protective (Or some say anal) about backing up images. At home I have them all on my mac and two other hard drives, one kept off site for safety (Hard drives are quite cheap these days!) My issue is backing up in the field over a one or two day shoot. I normally use many smaller cards (4GB) in a day instead of just loading one to maximum, but I feel I also need to back up this card on the shoot.
I know of the Canon and Epson style hard disks/viewers but they cost around the £300 mark. Does any one use a netbook style laptop? At around £180 if you shop around it seems to be a more cost effective alternative, and you can use it for emails when you get back to the hotel! Windows XP or Linux? I'm not sure?
I don't want to do any editing, just storage/back up from the camera (or card).
Your collective experience and comments would be much appreciated.
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Old 20-10-2009, 21:05   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

Not an odd question at all. I use a Samsung Net book with XP as a back up device when I am on holiday. It has a 160 GB internal drive. I doubt if it would run Vista in any case. I have a copy of AcDsee on it so I can have a quick look at the images . The screen is rather too bright and has too much contrast so I do not use it for editing. I just delete the obvious failures.

I also take a 120 GB portable drive with a 2.5 inch drive in it which is powered by the USB drive and use this as a second backup.

It may seem overkill but when you go to places like the Galapagos for the only time in your life it is not worth taking chances. So far it all works OK.
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Old 21-10-2009, 00:09   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

i dont back up anything
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Old 21-10-2009, 06:49   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

... Cards are more liable to "Go Off" when attached to a power source.
Apart from accidental mechanical damage, which is not always fatal, once out of the camera, any card should be almost bullet proof against the data being erased, until plugged in to another device.
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Old 21-10-2009, 10:27   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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i dont back up anything
That is very brave.

There used to be two things in this world that were inevitable Death and Taxes

In this computer age a third has been added hard drive failure / corruption.
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Old 21-10-2009, 10:45   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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That is very brave.
Interesting choice of words


Fi, have a word with yourself! Get some backup.


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Old 21-10-2009, 15:25   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

I have used an Epson P2000 for several years and it has proved to be reliable for such backing up. When I initially load images from a local shoot to my PC, it may be a week or two before I do a back up to an external drive (I do have a Raid 1, however) so I often back up the card on my Epson P2000 as well, if I need to format the CF card for another shoot. I can certainly see that a Netbook might be a good alternative.

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Old 21-10-2009, 17:03   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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Interesting choice of words
Stolen directly from "Yes Minister" that program
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Old 22-10-2009, 06:29   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

... Backups....
With the availability of a terabyte of disk space for under £50, its not that difficult a task....
Hard drives come in two flavours...
Internal and External...

The difference between the two?..

A Power supply, casing, and a USB or SATA card....

The drive behind the casing?... more than often, its exactly the same internal hard drive......

If the external drive goes "Kaput", please dont assume its dead folks...
The power supply and/or the usb card are more liable to be a fault, so if you split the casing open, you get an internal hard drive, either IDE or SATA, that can be connected to the insides of your computer quite simply, and that data is not lost......
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Old 22-10-2009, 06:51   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

I use variously:
Sony laptop (small as a netbook and 2nd hand so cheaper)
Pocket external drives
Flashdrives
XDriveII
Archos (main use MP3 player)

No such thing as too much backup, whereas........
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Old 22-10-2009, 07:36   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

where do u draw the line tho? ok you back up, what happens if your back up goes pop? how many times do u back up.? simply put, i have to weigh up if i need more storage.......... or i need back up storage....... i cant have both. if have funds to buy another external drive...... its cos i need storage. I dont have DVD writer on my computer so i cant back up that way, i dont have room to keep thousands of CD roms with a handful of shots on each. and my computer is so old i cant even install a new printer let alone anything like a dvd writer! lol.i am currently filling my 2nd external drive not with back up but with new shots. if something goes pop..... it goes pop. i will have to go out and reshoot it.
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Old 22-10-2009, 08:08   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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ok you back up, what happens if your back up goes pop?
You use your original! The chance of both going at the same time is only slight!

I always say "If you don't mind re-keying the information you put in your computer then don't worry" (most people do!). By the same token, if you don't mind re-shooting the photos then don't worry about a backup (but for £50 I'm safe in the knowledge that my pics from all over the country/world are safe! )
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Old 22-10-2009, 09:12   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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where do u draw the line tho?
FWIW - I download from the card then make two DVD copies of the raw files. These get kept in different places. The folder on the hard drive will also contain any edits I do in an Edit folder. The hard drive is backed up to an external hard drive and that is it.

I will also make a DVD of the edits folder when I think I won't be doing any more.
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Old 22-10-2009, 09:50   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

Thanks for all your comments so far.
As I shoot wildlife Most of my work is done outdoors in the wet, cold,ice, snow etc. While I am happy with my back up regime at home it was work in the field that I was concerned about. I take the point that once out of a camera a CF card is 'electrically' bomb proof. Mechanically it is vulnerable so I store them all in a 'Peli' type case which is waterproof/dustproof and floats (!!!) I am now inclined towards using more cards in the field and only using another storage device (Netbook or Epson style unit) when I know that I will fill all the cards and need to empty them before the next day, in other words on a week or longer trip to an exotic island in the Pacific (Any sponsors??).
Keep the comments coming though, its the only way us 'new types' can learn.
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Old 22-10-2009, 10:10   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

One thing is for sure - cards are now very cheap so the option of having plenty of them is affordable and it is spreading your risk. Suppose you downloaded all of your cards to a netbook/storage device only for the backup device to fail?

Maybe the best bet is to use a laptop to duplicate the cards onto DVD so you have the cards and one or more DVD backups.
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Old 22-10-2009, 10:33   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

I use an Epson style thingee to back up cards but only re-use the cards once I have them on my PC at home or on long trips once I have also posted DVDs home. Another advatage with using the portable drive as the primary source is the speed of uploading once you get home both in terms of transfer times and in terms of just having one device to plug, hit import and leave chugging away.
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Old 22-10-2009, 10:37   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

It's a bit harder for home users. We don't have affordable high capacity backup options like tape drives which force a backup regime onto us. We've got CD/DVD/External Hard Disks instead.

CD/DVD's are a pain in the ass. A lot of hassle and the requirement for a strong regiment to do it each time.

External HDDs have the capacity and the ease of use but the temptation to use it as a storage drive instead of backup is pretty strong.

How you use the external HDD is simply down to your mindset. If you're keeping second copies of your files on it and ONLY using it to recover lost files or to backup more files, then it's a backup drive. If you're using it to open files and make changes then it's a storage drive.

The major downside to and external HDD as a storage drive, in my experience at least, is hard drives are incredibly unreliable when in the external caddies. I don't know why, but every drive I've used externally as storage has failed. My backup drives however still run as happily as the day they where bought. Recall that when used as storage, the drive is on while the PC is on. When used as backup, it's only on while the backup is running.


Fi, it sounds as though you've fallen into the trap of using your backup drive as storage. My advice would be to upgrade the **** out of your desktop PC so it has more than enough space to store your work for the next year. Archive off 2+ year old stuff onto a backup drive.

A 500GB internal (IDE i assume) HDD is £60
A 1TB external HDD is around £60 as well.

The pair should keep you going for a few years as long as you stick to your regiment.
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Old 22-10-2009, 18:37   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

I cant upgrade my PC would be far far cheaper to buy a new one, as stated before its so old it wont even allow me to install a new printer lol
I have virtually no images on my PC i have two external drives ..... one being a 320 the other a 250 both seagates one if full the other is not. for £60 i can get another external drive that i can use for storage. that would then give me three drives and probably no more room on the desk for any more! lolol.... for the same £60 i can find numerous other more important things to use it on. If it were important i back up i could see the point.
i have virtually no images that are not reshootable... i cant back up to DVD. i honestly dont see the point in wasting all that storage space for things u are not going to even look at for an eternity. If its something like pics of a holiday of somewhere u are not likely to go back to thats fine......... but there is no where i have been in this country that i cant honestly get back to at some point. and anything that I want to keep i print and it goes in hte family album like photos of old.
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Old 22-10-2009, 19:32   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

You never know what you might want to look at again!

For what it's worth, my arrangement is....

Internal 320GB - used for music, documents, converted movies and jpeg images. This is all backed up automatically (by Time Machine) to a WD portable 500GB drive.

External 1 (storage) - Another WD 500GB portable - used for RAW files. This is backed up manually to a 1TB Seagate external drive.

External 2 (storage) - Yet another WD 500GB portable - used for iMovie Events and Projects. Also backed up manually to the Seagate 1TB drive.

External 3 (archive) - Seagate Go 500GB portable - used to save the original AVCHD files from my video camera. Also backed up to the Seagate 1TB.

So far I've not had any of the portable drives fail on me, and they start up quicker than the desktop drive after hibernation.

I'm not advocating this arrangement, but it works for me. With a desktop PC it would be better to have the storage drives built in, but I can't do that with the Macbook and the external drives don't seem to create a bottleneck.
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Old 22-10-2009, 22:57   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

Fair enough Fi. For the record though, a single 1TB drive in your PC will replace all the caddy clutter on your desk and force a Windows reinstall - which would probably fix your printer issue as a nice side effect


lol @ silky and his immobile laptop.
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Old 22-10-2009, 23:01   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

lolol OP and my puter would die in shock! lololol
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Old 23-10-2009, 10:07   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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Fair enough Fi. For the record though, a single 1TB drive in your PC will replace all the caddy clutter on your desk and force a Windows reinstall - which would probably fix your printer issue as a nice side effect


lol @ silky and his immobile laptop.
Too true OP! That one is a desktop substitute, but I can unhook everything and go walkabout with just the portable drive(s) I need.
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Old 23-10-2009, 16:31   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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As I shoot wildlife Most of my work is done outdoors in the wet, cold,ice, snow etc. While I am happy with my back up regime at home it was work in the field that I was concerned about.
This was an issue I had a few years back after spending a couple of days photographing Grey Seals at Donna Nook, 10+ gigs of seal pup pics later and I was out of card space and going home early.

I got round it by picking up an Archos AV500 portable video player thingy. For me it killed two birds with one stone, acting as a portable hard drive to store my pics if needed out in the field (I can't view them though as it's not RAW compatable), and as it's main function of playing music and video to pass the time as I travel a good bit. This works for me but there are several more "photography" specific devices out there that you'd probably find suit you better.

The Epson media viewer mentioned already is pretty expensive (£400+ for one with decent storage). If you basically just want somewhere to dump your photos until you can get to a computer then both Jobo ('Giga One' and 'Spectator' models) and Vosonic (VP5 series) are good portable storage solutions, pricing ranges from about £160-280 depending on capacity here.

If you want to view your pics on a bigger screen then the netbook would probably be the best choice. If you need to add extra storage to that then LaCie do a 'Rugged' series of portable hard drives that (as the name suggests) should be better suited when shifting you gear about.... If you are thinking of taking this route and intend to have it out in the field with you then don't forget to budget for a decent storage option for it, they don't tend to do well in the "wet, cold,ice, snow etc."
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Old 24-10-2009, 03:03   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

Another option is off site backup via some like this company in OZ - must ve something similar in UK

I don't use this yet although the company I work for does and so do many of our clients - DRs, surgerys, small hospitals and nursing homes for patient data.

For the record - currently external hard drive plus semi-regular DVD's plus immediate DVD back up for big sets eg upon return from NZ

I am considering getting an account with theses guys for home as well.
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Old 24-10-2009, 09:48   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

im not sure i like the idea of an electronic off site storage ESPECIALLY for medical records!........Only off site storage we use is for the actual paper records and thats only after they have not been accessed for 6 years. we dont even use electonic records ON site ! lol
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Old 25-10-2009, 05:06   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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im not sure i like the idea of an electronic off site storage ESPECIALLY for medical records!........Only off site storage we use is for the actual paper records and thats only after they have not been accessed for 6 years. we dont even use electonic records ON site ! lol
Naturally there are a number of terms and conditions in place with the data storage site with regards to security, privacy, redundancy etc and the information is encrypted.
Safer than any paper record that can get stolen , lost, opened and viewed by anyone able to lay their hands on and no audit trail ..
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Old 25-10-2009, 08:41   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

this is perhaps a discussions for another time/ thread, but there are safeguards in place for paper records also AND an audit trail. Data protection laws dictate this, but electronic OR paper records will only be safe IF everyone follows the safeguards, unfortunately having electronic files does not mean this will be done any better than it is now.
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Old 25-10-2009, 11:32   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

Most off site electronic backup/archive providers have 2 options either you can be the only one who holds the key to your files or they will hold a spare key securely. Either way the key is useless without the passphrase. If it's your end that encrypts the documents and only your end has the necessary keys it's as secure as you want to make it in terms of anyone having access to it. As to whether they keep it safe then that's a different matter but the big names usually have a lot of redundancy so it's probably about as safe as it's possible for it to be.
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Old 25-10-2009, 12:10   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

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Originally Posted by fionaB View Post
this is perhaps a discussions for another time/ thread, but there are safeguards in place for paper records also AND an audit trail. Data protection laws dictate this, but electronic OR paper records will only be safe IF everyone follows the safeguards, unfortunately having electronic files does not mean this will be done any better than it is now.

One of my previous jobs was working for Hays IMS, Information Management Services... I was transporting wagon loads of "Data"
They have now sold out to another firm, and I dont work for them.

Our job was to supply "Offsite storage" for all kinds of records...
There are warehouses with a floor size of a football pitch, 20 ft high, and several storeys high, all over the country, packed full from floor to ceiling with shelving FULL of boxes of paperwork, with just enough space to allow access.
(The fire suppressant system, being self powered, held enough water on site to fill a couple of Olympic sized swimming pools...)
Some of this, such as Medical records, is marked as "Destroy Date: NEVER"

The company that has taken over, also does electronic data storage...
"Environment controlled" rooms, stacked full of data, drives, disks, tapes, SSD's, you name it, they have it....
They also do an online data storage.

One thing to remember...
If you cant get online, how do you access your data?.

Data protection...
Yes, there are rules, for safeguard....
Are you SURE they are being followed?

In the days of Hays IMS, I would say, without any question, YES.
In the company that took over....
Why for you think I dont work for them?

They "Emptied" a warehouse or two when they took over, in the Hays warehouses, EVERYTHING was traceable...
In the company that took over, and American firm, I**n M******n, I removed several 44ton artic loads of records that had been marked "Unknown"....
This was from ONE warehouse alone...
They will be stored, as they cannot be destroyed without permission, somewhere, awaiting the "Does anyone know where this is" call.....

Nuf said?...
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Old 25-10-2009, 12:29   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Image Back up - In the field

we used to use I**N M*******N but its another firm we deal with now.I dont know if this is cos the company has been taken over again or if it lost the contract.
I'm not sure why medical records have a Never destroy date tho. the destruction date for Medical records is dependant on a lot of factors but there are only a couple of categories which shouldnt get destroyed ever.
each record that is sent to offsite storage HAS to be traceable as they are regularly requested back again!
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