Backup strategies for our media (mostly photos and videos) has been challenging. As with any business we have data that is important to the continued operations of our company. As we obviously deal in photography and media, this means that we have large back up needs.
How We Process Your Photography
Just for a window into our inner workings, we have a very simplified and streamlined process for going through and choosing photos, editing the picks and posting for use for our customers. We utilize Adobe Lightroom, to quickly assess the photos that work best for the client in question, and then edit accordingly. Once we have these photos chosen we upload to our gallery service, smugmug.com. This valuable service allows to post all of the possible photos for a client in a handy online gallery and have them choose the 10 or more photos that they like the most, download them and begin to utilize them.
Well once we have delivered your photos and everyone is happy, we need to archive and back up your photos. We use a rating system to know which photos to hold on to. 0 stars and they get, shall we say, "terminated with extreme prejudice." 1 stars get a second review to see if they have any 2 star potential. If they do, they get promoted, if not they suffer the 0 star fate. What we are typically left with is about 30-50 really really large files. Those files and everything related get shuffled off the main computer and they are archived out to a lovely hard drive system. However there is one missing piece. We need some kind of off site back up. Back in the day we would have a service like Iron Mountain come out and pick up a set of back up tapes. This kind of storage was big and reliable and if you had a theft or fire you at least had your data. But it also had a large cost associated with it. This is one reason why photography used to be so expensive. Technology costs were staggering.
Enter the Cloud
So you may be asking yourself, what changed? In a word? The Internet. More specifically this thing that people refer to as the cloud. For all the hype about the cloud all this really means is that someone else has a really big hard drive system, located most likely in another state, that is connected to you over the Internet. That's it. No magic fairy dust required. It's just the same thing you have at home only 1000s of times bigger and located away from likely natural disasters. (Mostly)
In Comes iDrive
So our big move this month has been to switch our cloud backup from a service called Backblaze to another called iDrive. iDrive offers actual archives as opposed to a mirror of your online storage. Why is this important? We had a hard drive off line for a while while we reorganized our data. Backblaze decided that we didn't need 800GB of our archive any more and deleted our data. Look. I understand the deal I had with Backblaze and I understand how the rules are structured. But deleting data is just a cardinal sin. YOU JUST DONT DO IT but they did. So after searching around and hoping that my house doesn't burn down I found iDrive.
iDrive Express for the Win
One of the factors when choosing a cloud backup is, how long will this first backup take. Our first Backblaze backup took 4 MONTHS to complete. (See why I was irritated they deleted my backup?!) I was looking for a service that provided something that we used to call "sneaker net". In other words, taking a hard drive and physically picking it up and walking it across the room (or the country in this case). Here is how this works. iDrive mails me a hard drive that I physically attach to my computer. I run the backup against my 800GB of data (takes about a day to copy over), pack the drive back up and ship it right back to them. Then they connect that drive to their giant computer system. (I like to think of it as looking like Hal from 2001, but this is unlikely) they copy my data over to their servers and bam 4 months is down to about 3 weeks. (2 weeks after sign up I got the drive, 1 week after sending it back the data is copied) This is such a great service. And it was EL FREEBO. You get 1 iDrive express backup per year for free. This is AMAZING. Considering that I used a radio coupon offer to get 1 year of service for 15 bucks, I can't think of a better way to secure our data.