Photo and file management/backup system?

Andy Griffith

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Dec 28, 2008
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I need to set up a file management/backup system and have been reading all the back posts on this subject. I think I have a plan but would like some input on some things that are still not clear.

First my MO:
- Relatively minimal storage needs compared too many (most?) on this forum.

- Currently in the process of scanning my fathers and grandfathers old negative/slides into digital format. I'm guessing there is about 2-3 thousand or so pictures here.

- Once done with the above I will scan my own pre-digital negatives into digital format. About 4 thousand pictures.

- Currently have about 3 thousand digital pictures stored on the hard drive in my desktop machine and on some CD's.

- Anticipate relatively minimal net new digital pictures to add on a yearly basis. Just family stuff, vacations etc.

- Currently using windows file manager for file/photo management.

My plan is to keep the photos on a separate internal HD in my desktop computer and backup copies on a dedicated external HD which will be kept in my fire resistant safe. I will make fresh backups from the desktop to the external once per quarter or so (unless there is a big batch from a vacation or something). Phase two will be to include backups of my data files in the process, maybe to a separate external HD, and maybe more frequently like on weekly basis. Phase three will be to incorporate some type of DVD off-site storage of the photo archives files.

Some questions:

1. What software should I use for cataloguing and managing all these digital picture files? Elements v6 came with the scanner I just purchased and I had planned to use it for photo editing purposes, but I'm not clear if this is also photo/file management software as well - naming, sorting, cataloging etc? I also was thinking about using picasa offline for this task. Is picasa a photo cataloguing software as well?

2. After deciding on file management software, where does this software reside? With the OS and application files on my desktop hd, or does the photo/file management software need to reside on the external HD as well?

3. How does one go about deciding on an overall grouping strategy for all these digital photos? I can group by location, by people, by event or some combination. With this method though I can end up with a situation where I may have a photo whose location is grandfathers farm, but it may also be a photo of Christmas (event) at grandfathers farm. I'm trying to figure out how one finds specific pictures out of the thousands that are cataloged after all this is said and done?



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Jan 1, 2009
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Indianapolis, IN
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Personally, I wouldn't use any cataloging software. Well named folders, along with times and dates in the photos filenames, along with thumbnails should be sufficient.

Storage is cheap nowadays, and if you want to get really spiffy, you can set up a thing called mirrored raid. You have 3 hard drives that all store the same data. If 1 of those drives gets corrupted or dies, the computer (or networked storage server) falls back to using the known good data from the other 2 drives, and alerts you to replace the bad drive if necessary.

Or just use an external drive- BUT- when you do your backups, also run a program to compare the files that have been backed up already. Make sure both copies match so you know that you aren't losing data on 1 medium or another.

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