What Role Does Cloud Backup Have In Backing Up Your Photos?

May 3rd, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALee in Washington asks about Amazon Web Services S3:

I began looking at the Amazon Web Services S3 product.  However, the maze of individual pricing elements is daunting, so it’s difficult to just get a simple, quick answer to the question:  “What might be a typical, or example annual cost for photographers to use AWS3 for off-site backup?”  Do PFRE members have such experience to report?  What are the most popular off site image storage solutions used by our PFRE members?

In March 2015, Amazon announced two new ‘unlimited’ storage plans as part of its Cloud Drive service. The Unlimited Photos plan costs $11.99 per year and an ‘Unlimited Everything’ plan allows users to store an infinite number of photos, videos, documents and music for $59.99 per year. See this article for more details.

But wait! Serious professional photographers need to have 3 copies (3 is 1 and 2 and 1 are none) of their photos before they start thinking about cloud storage because when talking about the volume of files professional photographers have to deal with, cloud storage is very slow. You want an off-site backup that you can have operational within hours. You can’t do that with cloud backup! Cloud backup is convenient and will allow you to restore a handful of files immediately but it could easily weeks to restore a multi-terabyte disk of RAW files!

Here is a great article by Tony Roslund over at Fstoppers on how to set up a bulletproof Backup Strategy for your digital files. So just be sure you don’t depend on cloud storage for your only off-site backup! Unless you are ok with it taking weeks to restore files.



Share this

4 Responses to “What Role Does Cloud Backup Have In Backing Up Your Photos?”

  • I work on single and very large files sometimes that I put up to 8 or 10 hours of editing into. For those psd’s I do a simple upload to the cloud. Trying to get everything to the cloud would be too time consuming i think.

    I have a copy of all my data currently accessible on a hard drive hooked up to my computer, and I have another copy of all of that data that gets cloned to another hard drive every few days. Quite honestly, and I know some may strongly disagree with this, if something was to happen to both those drives like a fire or theft, I feel that I could and would have no problem rebuilding and even redefining myself. I mean it may even be a good thing! I don’t things the things we own should end up owning us, as Tyler durden says in fight club.

  • I don’t use cloud services. I have a local backup and another copy of my files with a family member about 150 miles away. This means I have 3 copies of all of my files. My delivered RE photos usually stay on my FTP server for at least a month which gives me a forth copy of my most current delivered work. I’m working on getting some local internet accessible storage again so I can backup files and if the worst happens, I can drive over during business hours and copy files directly to an external hard drive.

    The difficulty with cloud services is getting the data back. Incrementally uploading items as they are created is the easy part. Needing to replace the contents of a 3Tb drive that leaked out its magic smoke will take a lot of bandwidth and time to retrieve. Large companies such as Amazon don’t care much about providing emergency service to an individual that only spends $60 per year with them and there is no way to throw money at the problem to get it fixed. Several small cloud storage hosts have gone out of business with very short notice leaving customers without enough time to copy back their files along with everybody else trying to do the same.

    I suggest doing as much as one can locally to cover hardware going bad and disasters like fire and flooding (or tornados, depending on where you live). Theft could be a problem too if somebody breaks in and takes off with your computer. Encryption locking AKA ransomware is a big problem too. Besides a current back up, it makes sense to archive older files to a drive that should just spend it’s life collecting dust. Another copy of the archive could live at a friend’s, relative’s or a storage company (there are self-storage companies that have drive vaults and other services besides the more common lockers). Having some distance between your local copy and archives will help avoid one disaster wiping out both. Drives are cheap and shipping isn’t too expensive. Don’t put your stuff on a laptop and carry it around with you! I know somebody that had their laptop stolen right out from under them with all of their photos on it and no backup! Portable tech can grow legs in a heartbeat when you take it into the wild.

  • I keep one local work copy on a RAID setup, another TimeCapsule backup, and then everything gets uploaded to BackBlaze. Initial upload took 2 months (4TB) but now the backup catches up almost nightly. for $50 a year this peace of mind cannot be beat.

  • I only have a one external hard drive that I back up on, it takes forever, but I need to get a more streamlined system. What would you guys recommend, on a limited budget?

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply