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Creating/updating backup of photo files


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I currently back up my photos only once a year (I can hear you laughing...) in January, by copying my External Hard Drive to a newer larger EHD, which I then use for the rest of the year.  The original EHD becomes my backup. It takes me days, since there are now almost 2 TB, and there are invariably errors that stop the transfer and cause me to have to sort it all out so that the new and the original end up with the exact same number of bytes)  I am not a pro, but am (finally) feeling guilty about the possibility of losing a whole year's worth of work because I don't know a better system...

I have read your all your posts, and don't think I need RAID, and I'm not quite ready to try the cloud.  

Isn't there a way to just run a backup every week or month manually, using two EHDs where only the changed files are saved?  I like the portability of the WD Passports (I take mine on extended vacations), but am open to suggestions.  What hardware and program and/or service would you recommend?

Also, you recently suggested (Nov 2016) that we NOT use a 3TB HD, but a 4TB instead; was that just for RAID applications? 

Thanks in advance!

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The reason that I recommend purchasing a 4TB EHD over a 3TB, is that when the 3TB drives first hit the scene, Thailand got hit with MAJOR FLOODS. It's Thailand that produces hard drives and even consumer DSLR models. So when factories were under water, the manufacturers had to take drastic measures. For a time, Western Digital Drives were made at the Seagate Plant, and vice-versa. It was a real mess and Quality Control wasn't that great. 3TB Drives had a tendency to have high failure rates. So even though that things seemed to have leveled off, there is still a lot of 3TB HDs that are time-bombs and I would hate for one of the members here to lose all of there photos. 4TB HDs never were affected by the floods, so if it fails, you just got a bad drive, not because things were underwater / all sorts of crazy.

10 hours ago, Kim Haugen said:

Isn't there a way to just run a backup every week or month manually, using two EHDs where only the changed files are saved?

Yes. You need special backup software to do it. That type of backup is called an incremental backup. The one I recommend is SyncToy from Microsoft. It's not bullet-proof, but it's free and does a decent job. Second Copy from Centered Systems also comes to mind. That one you'll have to pay for, though $30 isn't too bad. FolderClone is another one, it costs $45 after the trial, but advertises a "set it and forget it" type of mode, which seems to be what you are after.

I'd start with one of those programs first and let me know if they do what you want them to do.

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Here is another one, though it saddened me to learn of this programmer's death. Karen Kentworthy made really good stuff/utilities back in the day, and here is her free backup program. While it's still available, it's not being updated. It should work though. That said, I would try the others first before using Karen's at this point.

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Thanks so much!

Amazing info about the 3TB drives!!!!  I asked bc I recently bought a 3TB Seagate Expansion portable EHD (at Costco, on a whim, she said ashamedly), and was beginning my yearly backups.  It had trouble ("Location is not available") three times in the first hour, so I take your advice seriously and will return it!  Are there bad Western Digital ones, too? Do you have a preferred/recommended portable and a desktop EHD in the 4TB size?

Regarding the incremental backup software... I have been looking at the ones you posted.  I have Windows 7 Professional; is that the same as Windows 7 for this application? 

Edited by Kim Haugen
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1 hour ago, Kim Haugen said:

 I have Windows 7 Professional; is that the same as Windows 7 for this application? 

For this circumstance, yes. It's the same. Pro has some features that Home doesn't, like going above 16GB RAM, being able to join a Windows Domain, stuff like that. But for the backup software that I linked to above, it doesn't matter.

 

1 hour ago, Kim Haugen said:

 Are there bad Western Digital ones, too? Do you have a preferred/recommended portable and a desktop EHD in the 4TB size?

I try to avoid the $79 specials at Costco or Best Buy, etc. 3TB external drives are all a crap-shoot.  There is still a mix and you might get a 3TB that works for a long time, or one that dies on you. Most of the time, the manufacturers use the cheapest enclosures with the crappiest USB ports, so the drive inside the case might be fine, it's that you can't get to it. As for brands, I like specific models of Western Digital's products, specifically the Caviar Black Drives. I've been burned by Seagates more than once over the years and I personally avoid them. I've even had one Seagate smoke in front of my eyes. Fortunately, I didn't have anything important on that drive when it blew up / smoked.

In addition, Seagate bought Maxtor a few years back and Maxtor made the world's crappiest drives. High failure rates on those drives. Dell loved using those drives, since they were so cheap and offered high-capacities. Out of 10 HDs that I replaced way back when, 8 out of 10 were bad Maxtor Hds, One would be a Seagate and one would be WD or another brand. So my point for this story? Since Seagate bought Maxtor, it's not that far of a stretch to think of the "$79 Special at Costco" to be a rebranded Maxtor HDs. Of course this is my opinion, but is based on a real-world personal experience. I've physically replaced those crappy Maxtor HDs on a normal basis, and now Seagate owns them. So to make a long story short, I personally avoid Seagate Hard Drives, no matter how good the deal is.

Bottom Line: 4TB Hard Drives are a safer bet vs 3TB Models.

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For Drives that I recommend, I tend to have expensive tastes. What is your budget? Also, do you plan on moving this EHD to various places or will it stay in one spot?

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I do tend to take the drive (and the computer!) to the lake on vacation a few times a year.  I am a thrifty person but don't want to cheap out on the important things... Reliability is the key, for me, esp since I currently only back up my photos once a year.

(Still thinking about the incremental backup thing, etc.  Doing my yearly backups was my Christmas vacation project, which is now over...)

I have another question:  my C hard-drive only has 8.75 of 215GB left;  all my photos/docs are on EHD.  Should I make a separate post?  TIA

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17 hours ago, Kim Haugen said:

my C hard-drive only has 8.75 of 215GB left;

That is VERY BAD!

I'm assuming this is some sort of laptop? It sounds like your C: drive is around 250GB and after formatting and partitioning, you are left with around 215GB. A 250GB HD is MICROSCOPIC by today's standards. You really do not want to go less than 500GB for a primary drive, with 1TB preferred. If you aren't careful, manufactures will sneak in a small C: drive to clear inventory and those small C: drives are meant for the operating system only. All programs and files should be installed on a separate larger D: drive, and not the C: Drive. Unfortunately, people are so used to clicking "next...next...ok...nextnextnext...ok...finish" when installing programs. With a small C: Drive and Larger D: Drive setup, you will need to do a custom install on all software. That's when you tell it to install on the D: drive. 

The rule of thumb that I use is to have at least 25% free of your total usable space for any hard drive, whether that be an internal or external drive. Using my method, you should have around 50GB free, not 8.75GB. At 8.75, that's barely enough room for Windows to function, let alone other programs. I'm sure your computer has been complaining about the lack of space. So what is hogging up space on the C: drive? We need to clear out about 50GB worth of stuff.

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Oh, what will happen when you fill up a HD? Bad things, like data corruption or a complete crash, in which case you'll need to reformat and reload everything...plus do the updates for windows and other programs. It's a huge time-suck and a real pain in the ass, especially if you don't have the license keys to install / unlock stuff.

Oh, have you ever created the backup media? Computers and Laptops these days do not come with recovery disks or thumbdrives, you need to create those things yourself when you get the computer. Most, if not all store-bought computers have screens that pop-up nagging you to create the recovery/install media, and most people ignore it. Then their HD fills up and crashes, and then a frantic post begging for help is made...

I'd like to avoid this scenario. So if you haven't already, purchase a couple of 16GB Thumb Drives, they run about $5 now so there is no excuse. Then take a look in your programs menu and look for a folder with the manufacturer's name. There should be something obvious in that folder, for example, "Create Recovery Media..." or something along those lines. If you upgraded to Windows 10, you'll need to create a USB Stick that has the Win 10 media. Microsoft has a tool and it's pretty straightforward to use.

So what OS are you on now?

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Oh dear.  This is terrifying.  I'm sooo glad I asked!

It is not a laptop. I have a relatively new Dell XPS 8700 w Windows 7, Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4790 CPU @ 360GHz, Installed memory (RAM) 24 GB, 64-bit OS  [product ID: 00371-OEM-8992671-00524].   Did NOT upgrade to Windows 10. When I bought it I thought I was buying a 1TB machine, online, directly from Dell, about a year ago.  I (well, my hubs) then installed Photoshop CS6 (first-time user) from a brand new disc ($$).  I have never put any photos or docs onto the hard drive, just the EHD.  I have never cleaned or defragged or anything.  I have heard that temp files exist but don't know what to do about that, so I have done nothing except play with photoshop.  I have indeed ignored suggestions to make a backup recovery file, and will do that NOW, assuming I don't need to make space on the HD to even do that?!  I have a 32 GB memory stick handy.  

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Free-form information spew:

There appears to be no D drive, but an option to insert a disc into "DVD RW Drive (D)".

I cannot find a Create Recovery Media file as such in the Dell program folders (found Dell Backup and Recovery, but it's only about 860MB), although if I log off and then on again the overly-polite window suggesting I make a backup will probably come up (again) -- and I won't close it this time -- but should I make the backup before doing anything else?

Not sure where to come up with the 50GB of free space.  Do I need to send you any screen shots?  

I have Norton which runs automatically.  

There is a Disk Cleanup option in the "OS (c:) Properties" box, next to the pretty pie chart that shows my Drive C (now with 11.1 GB free and 203GB used, of 214GB capacity) -- should I click on that box?

How do I get rid of temp and cache files?  (My hubby said to ask you.)   Norton says it eliminated the temp files, but does that mean all the photo thumbnails, too?  I think I have a pretty high resolution set for them...and they load very quickly after the initial load.   I never had any trouble when I only had Photoshop Elements 2.0 and Canon ZoomBrowser...  I am thinking that Photoshop is somehow contributing to this log jam?

Sorry to be so terribly ignorant of these things.  Quite thankful for your help and patience!  (Would love to somehow compensate you for your time....methods welcome.)

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The information inundation continues (my sincere apologies if you don't need this info, just wanted to reduce the back-and-forth request/time-loss for more info):

It turns out I actually purchased the computer on Amazon, through Techno Intelligence, in June 2015, for $1700:  

Dell XPS 8700 Desktop - Intel Core i7-4770 Quad-Core Haswell up to 3.9 GHz, 24GB Memory, 256GB SSD + 2TB SATA Hard Drive, 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 650Ti, DVD Burner, Windows 7 Professional

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IS7VCMW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Upon further investigation, in addition to the OS (C) drive, there is a New Volume (I) drive, that is completely empty... with 1.81TB free!!!  My guess is that some stuff should be here, and maybe that's why the other is so full?  The C drive is the SSD one.

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There's your problem. 256GB SSD. You see, the SSD C: drive is only meant for the operating system. No programs, no data files. What has happened, is when you have installed software and updates, you have done the traditional "next-next-next...ok...nextnextnext...finish" method of installing without giving any thought to WHAT was being installed and WHERE. So I'll bet you have a full 256GB SSD C: drive and a empty 2TB I: drive. (Just re-read your comments and this is the case.)

This is the exact reason that I jump up and down about small SSD hard drives and why I always recommend having a 1TB for their primary drive.

How to fix? You have a real mess on your hands. Honestly, I'd upgrade the 256GB Drive to a 1TB model. This is the one that I would get. The only way to free up space is to start un-installing software and re-install it on your I: drive. In the long run, you still need a bigger main drive. 256GB is microscopic by today's software requirements and you'll run into this problem again.

Oh and YES!!!! CREATE THE RECOVERY MEDIA!!! Duh!!!!! LOL!! What do you think I'm gonna say? If that Dell crashes and you don't have the media to do a restore, how do you think you are going to get back up and running? You don't have any friggin' install disks, you never created them. LOL!! So your 1st thing to do, before doing ANYTHING else, is to create the recovery media.

What you need to do, right now is get a couple of 8GB Thumb Drives and maybe a couple of 16GB Thumb Drives. I like Sandisk. They are like $5 now so there is no excuse. Run the Dell create media utility and use the Thumb drives. The process takes about 20 minutes which will save you hours and weeks of headaches. It should tell you what size Thumb Drive it's looking for. After you create the Thumb Drives, I want you to get a Zip-Loc Freezer Bag, the kind that you can use a Sharpie Marker to label what's inside and write DELL XPS 8700 Recovery Media. Put the Thumb Drive in the Zip-Loc bag and put it somewhere safe.

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