Category Archives: Storage

How To Set Up A Rotating Backup

When it comes to consulting for photographers, backup systems are one of the things I’m passionate about.  The double-whammy fear of technical complexity and expense keeps a lot of photographers from getting it right.

This is a companion article to my previous post, “RAID Won’t Save Your Ass.”  If you haven’t read that yet, go do so now.  It’s important for setting up your on-site backups.

A rotating backup takes care of your offsite needs.  You need offsite backup, because a fire or a thief will completely wipe out that backup safety blanket you’ve so carefully constructed.   Continue reading How To Set Up A Rotating Backup

RAID Won’t Save Your Ass

Wedding photographers.  I’m looking at you.  You have precious, absolutely irreplaceable data.  Do not eff this up.  Here are the rules:

  1. If you don’t have at least three copies, you don’t have any.
  2. A RAID storage system does not count as more than one copy.
  3. Storage devices fail.  They just do.  Plan for the failure of your drives, and accept that it will happen.
  4. At least one copy of your client’s memories should be stored off-site.  No matter how many backups you have, you’re naked and defenseless if they’re all in your home where fire and burglars can get to them.
  5. JPEG or half-resolution files are not backups.  You cannot deliver the quality of product you expect from yourself if you’re forced to rely on these.  A backup is not a backup unless you can deliver a finished product to the client without them ever knowing there was an issue.

Continue reading RAID Won’t Save Your Ass

Expandable Storage Pools in Windows 8

[Edited on 11/1/2012 for clarification.]

One of the ongoing challenges for photographers is storage – there’s never enough.  That goes double for us RAW shooters.  Video folks have it even worse, but no matter how you slice it, we’re one of the few small businesses that can generate more data at a single wedding/event/shoot than most medium-sized spreadsheet-and-email businesses generate all year.  Our challenges are compounded by the fact that most storage devices designed to contain this volume of data are targeted at medium to large business IT budgets.

You know you’re supposed to back up regularly, but when you’re constantly running out of hard drive space, it gets to be a bit of a headache just managing where everything is kept!  Perhaps you’ve looked at NAS or Drobo type devices (and many of those are awesome products with lots of cool features) but what’s a good alternative when you want to do it for a lower cost-of-entry, or you want an inexpensive backup to a NAS product you already own?  [Edit 4/20/2015: Since writing this, I’ve had so many bad experiences with Drobo that I would not recommend them to anyone.   Continue reading Expandable Storage Pools in Windows 8

Case Sensetivity in Speed Ratings? Yup, They Matter

You buy computer stuff.  Even if you hate it, it’s a part of your job.  Every manufacturer wants you to think their product is the best, so they’re constantly showing you the biggest number they can.  Bigger is better, right?  Sometimes.  (My girlfriend assures me it doesn’t matter.)

For the moment, consider these speed ratings:

  1. 60MB/s
  2. 100Mb/s
  3. 480Mb/s
  4. 9600 b/s

Which is the fastest?  The first thing to recognize is that the size of the “b” matters – a lot.  Like, to a factor of eight.  Each prefix multiplier is 1,000x it’s previous.  Continue reading Case Sensetivity in Speed Ratings? Yup, They Matter

What Does the X-Speed Mean?

SD cards and CF cards.  They all have performance limits.  Thankfully there seems to be a trend toward actual MBps (megabyte per second) ratings, but a lot of older and some newer memory cards use the X (ex or by) rating to indicate speed.

But 266x What?

266 * 150KBps = 39900KBps / 10 = 39.9MBps (rounded to 40 by most manufacturers) means you have a 40 megabyte per second memory card.

WTF? Why 150KBps??

CDs were born for music.  Your music CD player reads data off the disc at the rate of 150KBps (at least, it did before you put it out in the garage to gather dust.)  The very first CD drives in computers also read discs at this same rate.  When advancements started producing higher performance, that performance was indicated by manufacturers as some multiple of the base speed of 150KBps.  A 2x CD drive (yeah, I actually had one) was a blazing-fast 300KBps device.  The ex or by moniker was born.  A 40x CD drive therefore had a peak speed of 6000KBps, or 6MBps.  (Don’t laugh – we thought they were awesome.)

Most memory cards indicate the speed at which they can read data.  With few exceptions, cards can be read-from faster than they can be written-to.  The read speed and write speed are asynchronous (not the same.)  Sometimes this difference is significant, so do your homework if the write performance is important.

133x = 20MB/s

400x = 60MB/s

600x = 90MB/s

Continue reading What Does the X-Speed Mean?

Seagate GoFlex Desk 2TB Power Issues

Having trouble getting your Seagate GoFlex external HDD to power up?  Assuming everything is plugged in as it should be, try this.  Grab the USB connector (at the computer or hub, not at the drive) and give it a teeeeny wiggle so it starts to slide out just a bit.  Monitor the drive carefully.  Did it just spin up?  You’re welcome.

My drive works fine with my home desktop PC and a laptop.  One of these machines has USB3 and the other does not.  I couldn’t for the life of me get it to spin up on my girlfriend’s iMac, or on her PC at work. Continue reading Seagate GoFlex Desk 2TB Power Issues