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Old 05-01-2009, 13:41   #1 (permalink)
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What to use to archive digital files?

I've run out of disk space...again and I'm off on holiday in two weeks time, snowboarding. Since I'm determined to get some shots on the mountains I need to free up the disk space on my laptop (at the very least). So...what to use for archiving the files? I previously used DVDs to archive off my files but since moving from the D100 to the D300 the file size has gone through the roof so I don't think DVDs are going to cut it anymore. I need to free up about 100Gb short term, 300Gb long term.

I've looked at Blu-Ray writers but they are still expensive (about £180 for an external drive), although I do have a blu-ray reader on the laptop so it would be a good choice, and I don't want to use a hard disk as a permanent archive - I've lost too many pictures to hard disks over the last few years.

Any suggestions?

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Old 05-01-2009, 15:13   #2 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I think that as no media for digital storage is 100% reliable, a strategy to spread your risk is best.

I seem to recall that Delkin make media with 100 - 200 year guarantees and 25 gig capacity, so maybe this is the best route.

http://www.pixalo.com/community/news...tml#post213216

With the price of HDD drives falling all of the time, I think that two backup drives is something to consider too.
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Old 05-01-2009, 15:13   #3 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I am not sure why you have an issue with Hard drives? I have had several hard drives fail as well but I have never lost anything as a result. If you need to archive that means your files are already on hard drives? They fail but you allow for that in a backup regime. You can get a one terrabyte external drive for £63 if you get 2 you can have full redundancy and if you use an online backup service like Carbonite it will also back all them up as well so you have redundant local archiving of a terrabyte and off site backup of everything for less that the cost of the Blu ray writer.

DVD's Blu ray etc are all a bit iffy for archive use as you need to keep track of them all and you have no idea if they have failed until you need them and the files are no longer there. As a short term backup on a per shoot basis for important work they have their place.

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Old 05-01-2009, 15:29   #4 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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DVD's Blu ray etc are all a bit iffy for archive use as you need to keep track of them all and you have no idea if they have failed until you need them and the files are no longer there. As a short term backup on a per shoot basis for important work they have their place.
That's strange because I consider it the other way around. Hard disks, and hence online archive companies (who use hard disks) are all very well for backup but not long term archiving as the companies go bust, and they cost you money over time as well. Yes, I use hard drives at the moment, and yes I am missing a backup solution for my hard drives, but with archive onto DVDs I can make two copies, keep one for backup on-site and take the other off-site. I would consider DVDs a more reliable archive medium because they don't tend to fail once written and verified. Whereas hard drives can corrupt themselves any time you use them, first time, second time, hundredth time, or ten years later. Optical disks, being non-contact, don't get damaged when being read, do they?

I wouldn't be happy to archive onto hard disk and expect it to be there when I want it in 20, 30, 40 years time. With discs I can leave them in a fireproof safe, and as technology evolves consolidate them onto new optical media.

EDIT: On that note, I don't need 200 year archival media...I mean who has a 5.25" floppy disk 20 years later let alone 200

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Old 05-01-2009, 16:03   #5 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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I would consider DVDs a more reliable archive medium because they don't tend to fail once written and verified.
The members of a video forum that I am a member of find the opposite. Disks that you burn do degrade over time, and the rate of degradation varies depending on the storage conditions. I should say that it is the microscopically thin layer of metal that the laser burns the detail onto is what deteriorates.

Members have reported corruption from five years, although others have disks that still play at eight or ten years. One thing everyone agrees on is that home burnt media is not safe in the long term, and it is no good just copying them every (say) four years as any degredation will also copy over.

You can mock at the concept of guaranteed long term storage media, but when the next best option comes along in 20 or 30 years, at least it will still have the files intact, but I would lay money on your DVD's being beer mats by then.
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Old 05-01-2009, 16:26   #6 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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That's strange because I consider it the other way around. Hard disks, and hence online archive companies (who use hard disks) are all very well for backup but not long term archiving as the companies go bust, and they cost you money over time as well.
My Archive is currently also a backup but in the future it could become just an archive in the unlikely event that hard disk or solid stae storage doesn't keep pace. I use hard drives for archive safe in the knowledge that they have local redundancy and off site storage. To lose it the hard drives in my computers together with their mirrors and my external drives would have to fail as well as the off site all before I could replace one of them. As for online archive companies I wouldn't use them as the archive just the backup.

Continuing with on line archive companies. They all have at least 2 secure mirrored storage areas in seperate geographical location. Yes they may go bust but you still have you local archive that you can back up again to another company. DVDs are not free I have over 2.5TB backed up and I currently backup about 65GB a month. That costs me £30 a year and I have already paid (by credit card) for the next 3 years. If I wanted to archive everything to 2 Worm media then apart from not being completely automatic and seamless and incurring massive opportunity cost it would cost far more financially than it does now and it would only be backed up as I burn it not as I upload to my system as is currently the case and would only be offsite when I physically took the disk away. The larger the worm storage medium the more files you have at risk between backup/archive, the smaller the more labour intensive it becomes.

As for DVDs CDs etc being long term archive storage:
Quote:
some people wrongly assume that backing up files to CD offers a permanent solution. However, the nature of chemicals used to manufacture recordable CDs gives them a much shorter lifespan than store-bought albums. In fact, even recordable CDs that are stored in dark, temperature-controlled rooms usually won't last longer than a few years!

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Old 05-01-2009, 16:32   #7 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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Old 05-01-2009, 16:49   #8 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I'll vote for external hard drives - at least until solid state drives become more affordable.

I go a bit overboard... I sync my main internal drive to a second internal drive, and then back that up to an external drive. Oh, and then I mirror all the data to two other computers, one of which (the Macbook) has this Time Machine thingy where you attach an external drive and it updates the backup automatically every hour for 24 hours, and keeps a backup of every day for a week, every week for a month and then every month until the drive is full.
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:15   #9 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

Yeah I've been eyeing out those solid state drives (on my hunt for a new laptop) but boy are they expensive, and only small as well I wonder how long it'll take for them to become affordable
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:54   #10 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

There is also an issue with write cycles on most of the current SSDs, so it's not a good idea to use them with swap or journaling. They will improve and get cheaper, but for now I'd leave them alone except on netbooks where their physical robustness and low power requirements are a definite plus.
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Old 05-01-2009, 22:04   #11 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I gave up on multiple hard copies. Too much hassle, too high of a failure rate.
New approach - I keep a single external drive (to have things on hand) and upload EVERYTHING to my smugmug pro account. $150 a year for unlimited storage, plus commerce (I can sell prints).

Unlimited photo storage- powered by SmugMug <-- Compare the different levels

So far I've got about 300GB of shots on there, and average between 2 and 10 more per week. The organization makes it a lot more pleasant to find things too. It's pretty much a perfect solution for me.

If I were you, I'd check smugmug, exposuremanager, etc. and see if any of the online storage floats your boat. I know smugmug has a multi-state/multi-location backup of my shots, so there'd have to be a pretty major (nationwide) crisis for me to lose everything, and that just makes my day.
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Old 05-01-2009, 23:25   #12 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I use hard disks of one sort or another (taking care with external hard disks as they're all too easy to knock over - h/disks in PCs are better protected!) - currently about 1TB.

Never trusted the CD/DVD "solution" for anything other than sending people copies, never ever to sole backup - way too many failures

In a couple of decades I've never lost any data from H/Ds but have had probs with CDs and DVDs
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:16   #13 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

Thanks for the lively responses. Lots to think about, while I'm waiting for the blu-ray discs to burn

Only kidding , time to revisit my collection of CDs of photos from the last few years and create a backup. Maybe I've been lucky but I've had three hard disks fail on me in the last decade (out of maybe ten total I've used), and each time I have lost a significant proportion of my files, but no errors reading back from any CD or DVD backups...ever. Perhaps the tide is about to turn
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Old 06-01-2009, 17:14   #14 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

CD/DVD's are not reliable. Most back-up solutions now rely on multiple hard drives and they are very cheap now. I have used multiple hard drives for many years and I have had the occassional failure but like others have not lost data because of multiple back-ups. There is plenty of software around now for managing such multiple back ups as well. I still do write some of my images and all Raw files to DVD's but would expect about 1 in 15 to fail.
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Old 06-01-2009, 17:42   #15 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I recently started using Delkin Scratch Armor CD's, Remember CD's not DVD's, why? because CD's are made with a patented Phthalocyanine dye and their DVD's are not, Phthalocyanine combined with non corroding Gold makes them stronger against fingerprints, dirt, chemicals, scuffs, scratches, UV rays, heat, and humidity.
The clear scratch resistant coating that they use on the Archival Gold media prevents damage to the CD's from the daily grind they are faced with.
they are guaranteed to last over 300 years, wich makes me safe to say that they will be in perfect condition in my lifespan .

They are a bit expensive but if you really value your images then they are worth it !!
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Old 06-01-2009, 19:07   #16 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I'm a bit belt and braces! I back up to an external hard drive which I then back up to my work's server and the hard drive is kept in work's safe!!
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Old 06-01-2009, 20:54   #17 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I use external hard drives; currently in use are a Freecom 180gb and a Lacie Terrabyte (or Terry-brick as I fondly refer to it).

Last edited by Ali; 06-01-2009 at 21:03.
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Old 06-01-2009, 22:11   #18 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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... There is plenty of software around now for managing such multiple back ups as well.
Examples please? I must start backing up, I must start backing up ...

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... I still do write some of my images and all Raw files to DVD's but would expect about 1 in 15 to fail.
Why bother, if you expect such a high failure rate

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... they are guaranteed to last over 300 years, wich makes me safe to say that they will be in perfect condition in my lifespan
And you are not going to be around to sue them if it turns out that they lied (even if the company is still going in 100 years time) Not laughing at you Sotelo, I just think it's ridiculous to guarantee something - especially something as humble as a cd - for 300 years
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Old 07-01-2009, 00:01   #19 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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And you are not going to be around to sue them if it turns out that they lied (even if the company is still going in 100 years time) Not laughing at you Sotelo, I just think it's ridiculous to guarantee something - especially something as humble as a cd - for 300 years
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they will be in perfect condition in my lifespan
The rest I really don't care

But just to explain why it might be important.
Let's say something like this was available when Ansel Adams was around and he archived all his originals images in something like that, well it's the digital era and in this days we have just as great photographers whos images will be valued very much in the future, so the fact that they archive there images in a very secure way means a lot to them and to future photographers .
and if you mean by the fact that 300 are a lot a years well there companies that wayyyyyyyyyy older than 300 years
so ridiculous, I think not. actually it's wise
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Old 07-01-2009, 00:20   #20 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

You misunderstood me, sorry Sotelo, my fault I wasn't very clear: I meant I find it ridiculous that any company can reasonably guarantee that their product - or at least a cd, which we're talking about here - will last for 300 years without developing a fault. Of course I agree that it would be useful to have such guarantees, I just don't believe it is feasible or realistic for anyone to make such a guarantee. In fact all it is, is an estimation, since cd's have not been around for 300 years for them to say that their product can + indeed has lasted that long My point then was that none of us will be around to either claim on the guarantee or to tell them that they lied (or to be kind, were extremely generous in their estimation)
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Old 07-01-2009, 00:22   #21 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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Examples please? I must start backing up, I must start backing up ...
Syncback. I can't rememmber if it is free or not, or if there is a freee and a paid for better version.
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Old 07-01-2009, 00:34   #22 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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You misunderstood me, sorry Sotelo, my fault I wasn't very clear: I meant I find it ridiculous that any company can reasonably guarantee that their product - or at least a cd, which we're talking about here - will last for 300 years without developing a fault. Of course I agree that it would be useful to have such guarantees, I just don't believe it is feasible or realistic for anyone to make such a guarantee. In fact all it is, is an estimation, since cd's have not been around for 300 years for them to say that their product can + indeed has lasted that long My point then was that none of us will be around to either claim on the guarantee or to tell them that they lied (or to be kind, were extremely generous in their estimation)
ah ok
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Old 07-01-2009, 00:46   #23 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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Syncback. I can't rememmber if it is free or not, or if there is a freee and a paid for better version.
Thanks Graham I seem to remember having been pointed in that direction before, on another thread about backing up ...
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Old 07-01-2009, 03:30   #24 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

Those of you who keep disks or an external hard drive in a fire safe need to understand what happens inside one of those safes during a fire. Paper documents will probably be recoverable but electronics certainly won't. I use an external drive and was planning on getting another and alternating them - keeping one in a fire safe - bad plan.

I now spend $50 a year for unlimited automatic off-site online back up with Mozy.
I don't have to remember to back up.
I don't have to buy CDs or DVDs
I don't have to burn CDs or DVDs
I don't have to worry about swapping hard drives or taking one to work.
I don't have to worry about disks going bad or deteriorating.
I don't have to worry about changing technology
I don't worry...........
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:30   #25 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

Paul, that all sounds wonderful ... except don't you worry about security?! That is my first thought when it comes to online backups, for two reasons: (1) As someone pointed out, even online storage companies have to use hard drives, so what's to stop their hard drives from failing? Of course I'm sure they use high end equipment, but still no absolute guarantee, surely. (2) Automatic online backup by an outside source? Hmmm, doesn't that mean they have continual access to your computer?! Even reputable companies are subject to 'bad apples' once in a while, so again, no guarantees of security there IMO.

Otherwise, I agree about the convenience aspect
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:01   #26 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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Paul, that all sounds wonderful ... except don't you worry about security?! That is my first thought when it comes to online backups, for two reasons: (1) As someone pointed out, even online storage companies have to use hard drives, so what's to stop their hard drives from failing? Of course I'm sure they use high end equipment, but still no absolute guarantee, surely.

Nothing is a 100% guarantee but everything is stored on Hard drive all the banks keep details on computers, hospitals, the DVLA, the military etc etc. The on line back ups have numerous seperate systems a good distance apart which each have your data. I am sure at all of the sites they run mirrors as well so even if one of the disks holding a tiny bit of your data fails they will have local and remote backups. I have been with a company called CIX for over 25 years.They are not an online backup just a conferencing service. They are now an ISP; they pre date the internet and modern hard drives. I still have messages and files on there from 25 years ago. they have had a few failures but that just results in a little downtime no lost data.

As for security most of the online companies are in America over there they have to certify they are safe to store medical records securely. The one I use encrypts everything before it goes to them on your computer. You have 2 choices you can let them securely store a backup of the encryption key or you can store it yourself. If you do the latter no one including them could ever read your data. I don't do that because I don't want to lose they key.
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:00   #27 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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... they have had a few failures but that just results in a little downtime no lost data.
Oh right, I think that has been pointed out earlier in the thread (about hard drive failure)

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... The one I use encrypts everything ...
Yes, that is reassuring I suppose
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Old 07-01-2009, 16:58   #28 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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I now spend $50 a year for unlimited automatic off-site online back up with Mozy.
I don't have to remember to back up.
I don't have to buy CDs or DVDs
I don't have to burn CDs or DVDs
I don't have to worry about swapping hard drives or taking one to work.
I don't have to worry about disks going bad or deteriorating.
I don't have to worry about changing technology
I don't worry...........
I'm currently using Mozy on my main PC where I store all my pictures and web development work. Once a week I sync my laptop with the main PC and let the Mozy software do its thing. As the main PC is on all the time, the backups are completed when the PC is not is use.

I only upload my images and web development files as I think these are critical. The rest of my files / PC images are backed up to an external drive held in my study.

Last edited by IanHoughton; 07-01-2009 at 17:05. Reason: Add another sentance
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Old 07-01-2009, 18:20   #29 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

I just run synctoy (freeware) which then checks my drive for new files pic/docs etc when it finds any new stuff it copies them over to my 2nd internal 1TB drive so if one drive goes then I have it on the other. I can understand if your running a business it would pay to have your stuff stored online somewhere, in my case it's only a hobby, making backups of backups could go on forever. Where do you stop?

A question for these using online storage, bearing in mind the current economic climate, what happens if the online storage company goes bust as is happening to lots of companies recently and your left without a backup.
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Old 07-01-2009, 20:38   #30 (permalink)
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Re: What to use to archive digital files?

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I just run synctoy (freeware) which then checks my drive for new files pic/docs etc when it finds any new stuff it copies them over to my 2nd internal 1TB drive so if one drive goes then I have it on the other. I can understand if your running a business it would pay to have your stuff stored online somewhere, in my case it's only a hobby, making backups of backups could go on forever. Where do you stop?

A question for these using online storage, bearing in mind the current economic climate, what happens if the online storage company goes bust as is happening to lots of companies recently and your left without a backup.
I just back up to another one. It's not my only backup it's my offsite backup. If you have a power spike, a nasty virus, a burglary or a fire you can lose the original and the backup at the same time.
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