I spend a fair amount of time and money working to do all I can to preserve my large and rapidly growing image collection. How large and how fast? 4 years ago, when I first established an online image archive, I had 20 gigabytes worth of images. I currently have almost 140GB. Over the weekend I burned 6 DVDs, backing up the new images from the past 3 months. That was about 20GB worth, all told.
Starting back in 2002 I’ve maintained at least 2 distinct backups of my images. Back then the masters were stored on my linux box, and another set on my windows machine. Currently, the Mac hosts the master copy, and the windows and linux boxes are updated regularly using rsync. Having backups on different platforms and different h/w boxes protects against both platform specific problems, such as an evil virus destroying all of my pictures as well as general h/w issues that could corrupt the images.
In addition, in 2002 I began keeping one copy of all my images on an external hard drive, and continue that practice today. I also have a couple of hard drives with slightly older copies of all my images; that’s in case of silent corruption. (Speaking of, one of my next projects is to devise a scheme to validate, probably via the use of checksums, that my images are unchanged over the years.)
So with 4 or 5 copies I don’t have anything to worry about, right? Well, not from a hard drive crash, and not from a virus, or a weird h/w failure. But, that leaves fire, theft or natural disaster. Any of those could make all of my efforts moot. And so it was with great interest that I read Jeremy Zawodney’s recent writeup about using Amazon’s S3 storage service to backup his systems.
I need to backup 200GB now, and of course that number will grow. My current ISP, pair.com, has excellent service and a very high reliability rating. They’re not the cheapest, but they give good value for the money. On the other hand, their disk limits for my plan are 1.5GB. That’s more than enough to serve my web sites, but no where near enough to backup my images.
The Amazon S3 price for 200GB is about 30$ a month and that doesn’t cover transfer charges; a bit more than I’m prepared to spend at this point in time. And then there’s DreamHost. Like a dream, I re-discovered Shelley Powers* and she was writing about web hosting, among other things. (* She was previously blogging at Burningbird, and I missed it when she moved.)
Anyway, she mentioned dreamhost, so I checked them out. They are cheap!! They are not terribly reliable (though far, far from the worst). I can store 200GB a month for 10 bucks a month!! I won’t serve any critical websites from dreamhost, but I’m happy to have an option for storing all of my images offsite.