Digital Asset Management is a major issue for the modern photographer. Whether you're a full time professional or a complete amateur, the images we make have real value, whether it be financial or sentimental. Anyone serious about protecting their investment should have a well considered digital asset management policy in place.
Don't say it won't happen to you! Learn from the example of Olgas Truchanas, one of Australia's most famous 20th century photographers, who lost the bulk of his images to bushfire in 1967 - a lifetime's work lost in minutes.
Given any luck, bushfire won't be an issue in your life - but Almost everyone these day will be effected by media failure at some point - whether it's the all too common dead hard drive, a virus infection, or simply cheap burned CDs that start to rot away after just a few years, it will almost certainly happen to you at some point.
A good digital asset management system will have four features :
At the moment, their are 5 basic, commonly used Digital Asset Management strategies - each with their own pros and cons. Here's a quick summary of the major options:
@TODO [JD - Are these still your reccommended strategies? I updated the Online Storage one to be the #1 but may just need to be re-worded slightly. Would be good to have this one up to date as its the shortest article and more of an overview.]
This is in many ways an ideal solution to the problem of backup. Keep a
local copy, and upload another copy to the other side of the world,
for storage on a massively backed up, highly redundant disk farm.
Recent developments in the Australian internet marketplace have made
this the best option with cheap unlimited internet plans readily
This is our recommendation for your primary day to day storage system.
(often called RAID machines, or NAS 'Network Attached Storage')
Can be effective, fast and relatively cheap. But it can also be complex. However modern NAS systems can now offer ease of use, excellent data reliability, very high storage capacities and fast access.
This is our recommendation for your longer term secondary storage system.
Probably still the best option for longer term storage. Very cheap, and
easy. Burn multiple copies and store in multiple locations. The major
issue here is media quality. Cheap CD and DVD media will often only
last for a year or two. However, high quality media should last upwards
of 100 years. Select a good brand of media, such as Taiyo Yuden, and
be a bit disciplined with your processes, and it should be easy to
implement a highly safe, inexpensive, easy to use back up system.
Combined with another back up system, you would have the best of all
worlds - speed, convenience, and very high levels of safety.
This is another recommendation for your longer term secondary storage system.
The classic corporate approach to data backup is to use tape drives.
Old, slow, and notoriously unreliable over time, this is generally a
bad idea these days. It can take ages - hours and hours of tape
spooling - to retrieve a specific file you have lost.
These are fast, and can actually be a surprisingly cheap option in the
long term. However, they're based on moving parts, and MTBFs (Mean Time
Between Failure) for single hard drives is measured in years, not
decades. Leaving hard drives unused for long periods of time tends to
increase the unreliability.
Online Storage is your most secure option for a reliable digital asset management system. We have an extensive article on how to [Build the Ultimate Back Up System]. All in all, long term data backup is all about redundancy of data in geographically disparate locationsand this is currently the best method for maintaining this.
It's not enough to have your backups stored somewhere else in your house or elsewhere on your own property as unfortunately far too many bush fire victims have discovered. Even if you have an excellent, reliable backup system like the Drobo, that alone is not enough to prevent total loss through theft.