Cloud back up

Can those of you who use a cloud back up service for your raw files chime in on a couple things?

First, how easy or difficult is it to actually use. I find Adobe’s cloud to be a pain, but maybe I’m missing something. You’d think there’d be a publish service in Lightroom that would go directly to the cloud, but again, maybe I’m missing something. Oh and if you’ve ever had to restore from the cloud due to a drive failure, how did that go?

Second is reliability and price - is it a value or a rip off? Was it good to start and then the prices jacked up? Did the amount of storage increase or decrease for that price or stay the same? Can you get to your stuff all the time? Outages? Do they talk about or advertise their redundancy strategy?

I ask because it is now feasible I could use such a service since we installed Starlink satellite internet earlier this week. As a rural person in a fly-over state I’ll be dead before there is any infrastructure here for high speed internet, so we did it ourselves and so now my dilemma. Thanks everyone.

Oh and I have a SmugMug account and use Google Drive so those two are sort of no-brainers right now, but if there is a better way, I’m open to ideas, including Adobe if I could figure out how on earth to get RAW files up there. I guess my 20 gb of storage is for jpegs or something. Adobe speak is impenetrable sometimes.

1 Like

Hm. If you have an Amazon Prime membership you can get UNLIMITED still photo storage of any file type and size. I just uploaded a random raw file and it went up fine. This might be a thing since I have a Prime account.

1 Like

Thanks for the heads up regarding the free Amazon photo storage for Prime members. I was unaware of that benefit. :+1:

You’re welcome @Harley_Goldman - I had a dim recollection of something like that and a quick google was all I needed.

So far I have uploaded about 150 raw, psd and tifs. The folder structure is limited to one tier so it’s going to get crowded fast at a top level since I have Years - Months - Session folders which will just go into Month - Year albums until there is a different way to sort them. So for the 10+ years worth of photos I have, there will be a lot of albums - probably 150 when I’m done going by the 12 per year average.

I have been mostly happily using Backblaze to backup several personal and work computers and their external drives for years.

The backup software has done its job automatically in the background without problems on all but one of the computers I’ve installed it on. I have run into issues with it on my software dev machine as a result of fiddling with the system’s date/time but those can be avoided by pausing the backup service first or resolved by reinstalling the software (which is annoying but is easy and doesn’t take more than 5-10 mins).

In the past, the restore files interface on their website has been quite slow and annoying to use but it has otherwise worked as needed. I just took a look at it and it seems they’ve updated it and it now seems faster / cleaner. They will apparently ship you a new drive with your data on it but I’ve never had to use this and I don’t know how much it costs.

1 Like

I also use BackBlaze. The initial upload took several days, but then it is easy and runs in the background automatically. Or you can backup manually. I retrieved one file and it was easy.

1 Like

@Mark_Muller and @mrbphoto , thanks for sharing this option. I have been reading a lot of reviews of Backblaze and it gets really high marks for a combination of ease of use and value. A photographer buddy recommended it this morning and a little while later, so did you. I appreciate the input.

2 Likes

Hi Kris,

I understand you asked specifically about services in the cloud (love the pic reference for attention!)

However, I’ll just put this out there - maybe not for you since I’m providing any direct input on your question, but maybe for anyone reading this.

I recall a discussion not too long ago, I think by Diane, discussing image backups, complicated RAID systems, backup failures, etc. etc. Of course image file backup is critical and I’m pretty sure all agree on that.

Some times I think we just over complicate things. A 5TB drive at Costco is $89. I have 2. My original RAW and processed files are on my internal drive. I have 3 copies of just about everything. I use a free file backup program that automatically syncs between devices. I don’t need the “cloud.”

Sure, I use Google Photos, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. etc. (and yes, thanks btw on the Prime feature. I’ll check that out.) So I’m not any anti information super highway (age revealer…) or anything… but some times the easiest solutions are the most basic.

YMMV,

Lon

I would agree with Lon on this to a large degree and that is perfect for a hard drive failure. However, I think some kind of off-site storage should be part of every plan for the worst case scenarios, be it a break-in with all computer equipment taken or your house burning down. Yeah, they are highly unlikely, but homeowners carry insurance for that same reason.

The off-site could be a hard drive stored at a friend’s house or at work. But keeping that updated is a pain. The cloud solution provides an alternative to that.

I also use externals for backup and rotate two backup drives, so I have files in three places, but I don’t have the off-site parameter covered, which is why I am interested in this topic.

1 Like

Completely agree about our tendency to over-complicate, @Lon_Overacker. I worked for an IT VAR for 20 years and was queen of building big hard drive arrays and virtual server farms. However, my system is reasonably simple -

  • Primary catalog for all photo file types = 8TB external hard drive
  • Secondary is the “picks” from Lightroom including raw, tif & psd = 5TB external drive
  • Tertiary is now the cloud as I move photos to Amazon first and possibly other sites later on

Finished jpegs are on my laptop hard drive and I copy that folder to the 5TB drive and I used to even use a thumb drive for more copies.

The little 5TB drive goes into a fireproof safe when I’m not using it.

So I feel pretty good about being able to stop crying and carry on if my 8TB went belly up. It’s my 3rd primary external drive just for capacity - first was a measly 512, then 4 now 8. Not striped or anything, just written to like normal.

I use Backblaze and am quite happy with it. You can’t beat the price either. I have two external hard drives. One for my data, music, photos, raw, etc. The second one is my local backup that is copied to the cloud with Backblaze. Works great for me.

There are a lot of options and (obviously) different ones will work best for different people. I like to have the images in my main LR catalog (over 165,000 today) at my fingertips. The catalog itself is on the computer (now a portable laptop) but the image files are on a RAID 5 array of 4 6TB drives, which is 16 TB of storage. I replaced a problematic Drobo with a different system which had issues with the newest MacBook Pro M1 Pro, but were finally solved. That is not an inexpensive option, though.

The reason for RAID is that if one drive fails there is no data loss – it will rebuild itself, and you can plug in a new drive and it will expand storage into it. And every hard drive comes with a red tag that says it is guaranteed to fail.

I back up the RAID drive to two small externals which are swapped every few days with a second set offsite. That is practical for me as my husband goes back and forth almost daily to his man-cave at the airport. But the cloud option is sounding workable now for an additional backup, with the fast internet we now have.

And a word about fireproof safes. They aren’t. We were squarely in the path of the Tubbs Fire in northern CA in 2017, which (with two contiguous ones) destroyed over 5,000 homes. We had three “fireproof” safes. The one buried under the floor appeared intact but had to be cut open, and two weeks after the fire the burned contents were smoldering and too hot to touch. The other two were completely destroyed. The only thing that remained was literally a piece of insulation and a set of iridium spark plugs. (Bizarrely, a ceramic piggy bank I had as a child, that was sitting 10 feet from those two safes, survived intact, but slightly charred and the coins melted.) A neighbor had a very high end gun safe and lost it and the contents – a very expensive collection.

I have read the same about fireproof safes. If the firefighters put it out quickly, you stand a good chance of your possessions in the safe surviving. If they don’t, the odds are not good.

We’ve heard that a structure made of three layers of sheetrock provides good fireproof insulation for a “fireproof” safe. We’re still talking about building one. In the meantime, we now have a steel-frame house with siding and roofing that is a 4" thick sandwich of steel-clad polyisocyanate resin.

I’ve seen a few mentions of Backblaze above and as someone who has been using it for years, I would, until a few months ago, have given it an unconditional recommendation. No longer.

I added a 4Tb SSD drive as my primary storage device for my Photoshop masters and included it in my backup. All seemed well until, one day, on return from an overseas trip with a lot of new master files, I noticed that Backblaze showed it having been backed up in a period of time that simply wasn’t possible given the speed of my internet connection.

I spent some time investigating and found, to my horror, that Backblaze had stopped backing up all files - across all drives - and was instead, backing up only some files from each disk. I contacted Backlblaze support and over the course of the next few days, they asked me to run various command line instructions to produce logs for them to analyse. In the final analysis, they agreed that something had gone wrong but couldn’t pinpoint it. They gave me a second subscription foc and asked me to start my entire backup again - days and days of uploads.

So, a couple of takeaways:

  1. I have been using Backblaze for many years and had inherited backup status (the Backlblaze method of moving from one computer to another) several times as I upgraded my machines. I wonder if this was part of the problem.

  2. It’s a massive downside of Backblaze that it does not produce log files (like e.g. Dropbox) for user review so that it’s easy to see what’s backed up and what isn’t.

My current solution: I still use Backlblaze (my new account) but I regularly check (via the restore function) after a new folder is added to my drive. I have also increased my Dropbox account to 3Tb and I keep copies of my most important files there as well.

As an aside, I do have multiple drives as well, and I do keep copies off-site. It’s the cloud storage that allows me to sleep easily though.

Thanks everyone for chiming in. I appreciate the thoughts and ideas. For now I’m going with Amazon for raw files and skipping a lot of my PSD and TIFs just to get the basics done and because some of those files are freaking enormous. It’s going to take a long time to get this done since I don’t want to spend all day, every day doing it, but it’s a start.

I also use Amazon Prime Photos. It supports full RAW files and there is a backup and sync option in their app. The service is a bit clumsy, it is hard to view and search images online and it is hard to organise once uploaded.

It is a great backup though. If you loose your images, they can be downloaded, even if it takes a long time. And it is free if you are already a Prime member…

I have been using backblaze for years and it saved me when my hard disk failed. the problem was when I had to restore the pictures I couldn’t get them to the same location so lightroom didn’t recognize the pictures in my collections. I had many collections from different dates so after talking to adobe and backblaze I found out I had to reconnect every folder of pictures to the folder on my restored folder which took a long time and I still have some missing pictures. so it wasn’t easy and it took a long time but at least I got most of the pictures back. but in any case that is not a disaster I can easily get to my pictures and my whole computer gets backed up automatically several times a day. Does anyone have suggestions about backing up pictures from ipad pro? I am going to use ipad for editing and backing up pictures on a month photography trip and was wondering what is the best way to make sure I don’t lose any pictures and have easy access to them afterwards. Thanks