Category Archives: Photography

Blu-Ray Burner, M-Discs in Place for Summer Backup Project

I have a fairly robust backup system for my office computers, and in particular my extensive archive of photographs.

I have two NAS (network attached storage) devices on my local network, one with dual 3 TB drives in it, the other with dual 1.5 TB drives.

I also have a couple of USB 3.0 “toasters,” or HD docks that enable hot-swapping of HDs, so that I can have several in rotation, with one always kept in a safety deposit box at my bank.

But I had no “permanent” backups, or in other words, ones that could not be accidentally overwritten. So even with backups on several HDs, the data on those HDs is always potentially in flux.

The solution many professional photographers and videographers seem to use is Blu-Ray backup, specifically to archival-grade M-discs. Once burned, these cannot be overwritten, and supposedly have archival lives reaching into many decades, if not the claimed centuries.

Each Blu-Ray M-disc can store 25 GB of data. I have read about photography backup systems in which flash cards are immediately copied to Blu-Ray for archiving.

blu-ray drive with M-Discs

As of this writing, I have 1.54 TB of photos and videos. So I plan to slowly burn them to Blu-Ray over the summer, a disc or three or five a day. And of course I’ll be burning all new photo/video files from now on as they are ingested into the computer.

How much is all this costing? Well, the writer was about C$100 with taxes. The M-Discs were just over C$450 for 100, or about 2.5 TB of storage.

Cheap for the security.

Cannibalizing Old Computers

I spent a few hours today cannibalizing old computers for usable parts, and doing an archaeological dig beneath my computer desk.

old tower computers
Two old tower computers being disassembled

collection of old hard drivesThe old towers produced four hard drives of 750 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB, and 2 TB capacities. I’m reformatting all of them and will put them to use as secondary or tertiary backup.

SCSI Zip driveZounds, as I tunneled over a decade into the timeline beneath my computer desk I unearthed a SCSI interface ZIP drive. I can’t remember the last time I used a ZIP drive, and I don’t have any computers with a SCSI card in them.

I think I’ll resurrect the second-to-oldest tower as a Linux box. It’s got a 4-core AMD processor, 6 GB of RAM, and a 512 MB video card, which should be zippy with Ubuntu.

Backing Up – You Do Regularly Back Up, Don’t You?

Backing up computers is one of those tasks that nobody likes, but everyone should do. Questions about backing up arise often. Here’s how I do it.

I find it impractical to use automated Internet offsite backup services. With around 1.5TB of photos/videos, and 185GB of documents, it would take well over a month running 24/7 to initially back everything up online, and would incur substantial data overage charges from my cable ISP.

So I continue to use multiple hard drives with a combo of in-office storage, and offsite storage in a safety deposit box at my bank.

For immediate, short-to-mid-term backup on my main Windows PC, I have two NAS (network attached storage) devices with multiple hard drives in each. For my Mac I have Time Machine automagically backing up to an external USB HD.

I also have a couple of “toasters” that you can hot-swap hard drives in and out of. I clone my entire Windows HD to an external drive every month or two, and rotate with the one(s) in the safety deposit box.

I am looking into adding a Blu-ray drive to my arsenal. Once burned, write-once discs cannot be overwritten, and archival-grade Blu-ray M-discs appear to be about the most permanent affordable means of long-term backup.

Enjoyed 2015 Editors’ Association of Canada Conference

I attended Editing Goes Global, the 2015 annual conference of the Editors’ Association of Canada, held in conjunction with the Professional Writers Association of Canada. The conference was in Toronto on June 12-14.

I was a volunteer photographer for the event, and you can see 498 of my photos on the EAC Flickr feed here. You can also look for the 2015 conference album on the site.

It was an excellent conference with six streams of workshops and sessions. As a photog, I got to run around and check on all of them, attending longer at a few that matched my interests here and there as time allowed.

CN Tower Toronto