Data Management Breakdown

I have recently added to/changed my data management/backup system and I would like to break it down here on the blog for my own convenience and yours as well.

For the purpose of this blogpost I will refer to my external hard drives as A( a USB 2.0 1TB Western Digital My Book HDD), B (A USB 3.0 2TB Western Digital My Book HDD), and C (A USB 3.0 1.5TB Western Digital My Passport HDD).

I had been using HDD A as my main hard drive and HDD B as my main backup drive. Each time I went to backup photos from HDD A to B I had to manually copy them all and drag them into a new folder. This way works fine if you’re only backing up a few gigabytes of data but for me, it became hundreds of gigabytes. Each time that I wanted to backup my pictures I had to rename the old backup folder on HDD B to a different name and then copy all my photos (which now included the most recent ones that had prompted the backup in the first place) to a new folder and delete the old backup on HDD B. There were probably better ways to go about doing all of this data storage but this is how I did it on Windows XP. Soon it became a very time-consuming process for my computer considering I had to backup at least 400 gigs of old pictures in combination with the new ones. HDD A is also only USB 2.0 which is much slower in comparison to the transfer rates of HDD B which is USB 3.0.

After purchasing a new Macbook Pro for college, I had to reformat HDD A to enable both read/write capabilities on the Mac. Luckily I was able to fit the entire 1TB of information from HDD A on HDD B long enough for the reformat and then move everything back. However, I could not do the reverse with the data on HDD B because it would not all fit on HDD A. Therefore, my last official backup of all my photos/videos/music had been 8/01/12 because I had stopped using Windows at that point. This is fine but I just like to have a lot of redundancy with my photos and this was all brought to a halt because I didn’t know I would have to reformat HDDs during my switch from Windows to Mac OSX. Take that into consideration when switching from Windows to Mac, you will most likely have to reformat any HDDs/storage devices to work with the Apple operating system.

Within the past few weeks I was able to purchase HDD C  to fix some problems. This hard drive has enabled me to move the data from HDD B and format that hard drive to finally be compatible with Mac. My most recent data was still on HDD A so I transferred almost all of that onto HDD C so that A is now basically out of the loop. I would always rather purchase a new hard drive and take the oldest one out of the rotation than to wait until one of them fails and lose hundreds of gigs of data. I was then able to take most of the data from HDD B and move it to A which now basically acts as a long term archive for most of my stuff since I really don’t plan on using it that often at this point if I do at all. I say “most”because I have already shot new photos which are not backed up on HDD A, but everything I shot on my Digital Rebel is on there.

Now I am using HDD C as my main hard drive and I was able to start using HDD B as a backup hard drive to use with Time Machine. Time Machine is probably one of the best things Apple could have built into the Mac. It works by writing a backup of all the data on your computer/external hard drives to a file folder on a specified hard drive, which happens to be HDD B in my case. The initial backup of all my data took about six hours to complete because it had to copy roughly 1.06TB of photos/videos/music/preferences/misc files to its hard drive. Essentially, Time Machine takes a screenshot of everything on your computer and saves it. You can set it up to backup to an HDD automatically or do it manually whenever you want by hitting “Back up now”, which is what I am doing since I don’t always have HDD B connected to my laptop.

The thing I enjoy most is that Time Machine only adds what files have been added/changed since the last backup. Before on Windows I had to backup every single picture whenever I added new photos. Now, my Macbook only takes a few minutes to backup because it only has to add a few gigs at a time and make a new date stamp in Time Machine that I can look at. That was one of my worries about using Time Machine; will it have to backup everything into a new folder when I hit “Back up now”? No, it will only update with what has been changed/added since the last backup. Good, because I don’t have over a terabyte of free space to blow every time I want to back something up.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with my new setup, I have always tried to make things as quick, easy, and efficient as possible and so far it has been great. I knew that I would have to make some adjustments to how I was running things since I bought a new computer and a new camera this past summer. The transition to Mac could not have been smoother.

Lightroom 4’s memory card import, file naming, management, and rating systems have been utilized during this change as well. When I was using my old Canon Digital Rebel (300D) I used to manually go into “My Computer” and drag my RAWS into a file folder tree by year, month, and day. I don’t know why I didn’t try and do this before but Lightroom does all of that stuff with just a few preference boxes checked and a few folders specified. When I import, Lightroom copies my RAWs into folders by year–> Camera–> Year–> Year-month–> Year-month-day. Everything is also added to the file name as well so for instance, if the name of your RAW (or if you still shoot JPEG) is IMG_4998.CR2 then after importing it will be Year-Month-Day_Camera_Project_Location_Filename.CR2 just for a little bit more reference. Also, you can add a keyword template, so every file also gets my name written into the metadata and the keywords section along with whatever else I feel fits the photos.

Anyway, that’s my most current workflow in regards to what happens to my photos and pretty much everything else that goes into my computer. Everything I have on my computer is backed up so I don’t have nightmares about losing any of my data when I go to sleep at night. Sorry for the long blog post but I feel as though everything written here is necessary or else I wouldn’t be writing it. Maybe you can devise your own workflow based off of my setup too! Writing about this also keeps me from getting things confused.

-Alex

The Malady of Elegance

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