Andre Cantelmo Photography | Securing Photographic Data

Securing Photographic Data

October 02, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

In and around my social circles, which include friends as well as family, I am considered the person to bounce the tech questions off of first.  Not that I am any kind of wizard mind you, its just that I might have a simple fix, and in the worst case senario I will point them in the right direction.  My computer skills began with a machine that by now sits in a electronic muesum somewhere.  It was an IBM XT.  It had a ten megabite hard drive.  You read that right, megabite not gigabite.  To put the size of that drive in context, on a regular basis I work with single photos that are hundreds of megabites.  In the era when photographs were processed in darkrooms preserving my work was a matter of archival storage.  That meant that the prints I made were chemically neutral, mounted on acid free matt board, and I stored them in acid free boxes with tissue separators.  Saving a fire or flood, my work was safe.  It was readily available also, right where I needed it

I am 100% digital these days.  My workflow goes something like this.  After a day of shooting the good, bad, and ugly all exsist on my compact flash card in my Nikon.  Everything gets downloaded onto my hard drive.  I create a folder and name it with a date number.  For instance, the first of October 2012 would be 20121001.  That in turn is followed by a brief explanation, so the folder name would look like this, "20121001_sunset beach nj".  These folders are sorted by Windows 7 in chronological order.  I then use software to echo my documents into an external drive, "Archive I".  This same software then echos Archive I to another external drive named Archive II.  My days shoot now exsist in four locations, my camera, my computer hard drive, archive I and archive II.  Only then do I format my camera memory card in the camera.  The two Western Digital externals 1TB each are now placed into a fire resistant safe box.

This system works for me because it is simple.  I like the redundancy, convenience and access of this system.  I would like to say that this system is "fool proof" but that is not the case.  The weak link in my system is me.  This system only works if I follow the proceedures that I set up in the first place.  It's just too easy to forget, or put off a synchronization when I'm busy.  Every once in a while fate finds a way to remind me how important it is to be disiplined about my process.  I can hear some of you now thinking, "why doesn't he just store his work in the cloud?"  That would make life more simple no?  Well yes, but I just feel very uneasy about my work out of my control, off my premisis and sitting on some corporations server no matter what their assurances are. 

I am very motivated to keep my system working as intended and here's why.  Sorting through my e mail one day I see one from FedEx informing me that my package was sent to the wrong address, and "Click here to track progress".  In a brief moment of complacency I clicked.  That set off a series of events that led me to eventually formating my hard drive and doing a clean factory reset.  Everything on my desktop was now gone.  I was not in a state of panic because of my external hard drives.  I did not loose any web addresses either because I use Mozilla Firefox and I have an add on called XMarks.  I am very impressed with how fast and clean Windows 7 was installed and up and running.  After a reinstall of Norton 360 I was back online in less than an hour.  A few clicks to log into XMarks and all my web addresses were back.  Plug in one of my external hard drives, and there are my photographs.  It costs a little time, but I sync'd my Archive I to my computer hard drive.  All was well.  Except I lost three photos because I put off a backup a bit to long. (remember the weak link yours truly?).  There was one glich that I did not forsee.  For some reason that I do not understand, (maybe the virus did it) all the data on my external hard drives was hidden.  After a nervous episode a few phone calls and the help of two friends I was helped to un-hide my data.  All was well, breath deeply Andre. 




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