Britrock Blog

Just another Brit in New York City

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Backup, Backup and backup again.

Posted by Britrock on March 4, 2013

Backup, Backup, Backup
Missing laptop
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the experience of losing all of my work (thankfully, returned to me now – see UPDATE), its the importance of having a backup copy. The biggest question is cloud/online or external hard drive.

My storage archive and backup needs are split into three key areas; all images for work (in excess of 1 terabyte of data), digital music collection (in excess of 80 gb) and documents including business plans and budgets.

Hard drives are mechanical devices and will eventually fail or need replacement. The one time cost provides a mechanical device that I can plug in and set to backup all of my files on a regular basis regardless of internet access or bandwidth restrictions.

Online (or “cloud”) storage seems like the future and offers many fantastic benefits including file access (including backup and retrieval) from anywhere. Should my apartment burn to nothing and my hard drives are all destroyed I still have my data saved in the cloud to be retrieved whenever required.

However, there’s currently no cost-effective online/cloud option that I can truly trust will be in business forever and none of the providers has a policy in place should their systems crash and my data disappears. From all of the sites I’ve looked at the retrieval of data generally appears to download at the pace of 8 to 10gb a day. To retrieve all of my photographic data would take at least three months of constant downloading. Can’t think of many broadband providers that would allow that to go ahead without restrictions.

As the American Society of Media Photographers summate in their thorough article of backup systems
“Although some online photo services may offer cheap or free archiving, there will always be a catch. No one can provide a service for below cost for long and stay in business. They will eventually have to charge what it costs to provide the service, or stop offering it. At the moment, none of the online services provide any kind of guarantee or validation that the files remain on the server in an uncorrupted form.”

Online storage providers seem to appear weekly, however it remains to be seen how many survive as I recall the tale of Xdrive who despite having 100,000 of users, premium accounts and AOL as a parent company ultimately joined the internet deathpool. has a comprehensive list of all cloud storage providers and there’s a fairly helpful comparison chart at however its missing Pogoplug.

I’ve considered:
Google Drive – fantastic collaborative tool for working on documents together and useful as a backup of 5gb of data.

Dropbox – great as a local and online backup of documents and incredibly easy to share. The easy sharing and large capacity is ideal for sending clients work. upto 18 gb of free storage is incredibly generous. The base price for Dropbox for Teams is $795/year for as much storage space as I need. However, I won’t need all my data accessible in such an easy way, so there has to be a simpler option.

Mozy – solid company from what I’ve witnessed. I used the service as a backup for a laptop a while ago and it was excellent and easy to forget about. However for 2 terabytes the annual fee is almost $10,000.

PogoPlug – looks like a fantastic and viable option for personal use of documents and music. At $60 a year for unlimited storage it works for my music though I’m not sure about the ‘streaming’ capabilities. Might be interesting to explore when traveling for work.

Each of these online storage options look good, but limited in size. Step in, unlimited backup storage for less than $5 a month and it will store my music and documents. At first glance it seemed similar to so many others, the advantage is under the hood when I realized I could partition an external hard drive I use as my Mac Timemachine. The real bonus comes when you need to restore a large quantity of files, as you won’t need to be online for the length of the entire Simpsons and Family Guy back catalogs playing back to back. Instead Backdrive will send you your choice of a USB drive ($99) or USB hard drive ($189). Will be experimenting with these guys this month.

For ease of use, backup redundancy and anywhere access, I’ll continue to use Dropbox, Google Drive, laptop and external hard drive for document archive and backup. That’s the easy stuff.
The music needs to be on an external hard drive to prevent my laptop grinding to a halt especially when Photoshop is open, and Backdrive will hopefully be the solution as my music backup. I’m still not convinced by Spotify.

The work images will need at least two hard drives capable of handling at least 2,000 gb/ 2 terabyte drives. The external storage device search continues and I’ll provide an update once that decision is close to being made – I’m thinking Lacie at the moment but we’ll see as WPPI rolls around and what deals are available.



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My business was hit by catastrophic backup failure

Posted by Britrock on February 13, 2013


After the police report was submitted, filings made to lost luggage at NJ Transit and PATH system, and an insurance claim filed, I was left to work out how to move on and prevent this kind of lose happening in the future. What I hadn’t expected to happen was NJ Transit calling to let me know my bag and all of its contents had been turned in. When collecting my bag from the equally bemused NJ Transit employees, all they were able to tell me was “someone decided to turn in the property.” Even when pressed that’s all they would say. I’ve not been able to truly understand what happened to my laptop bag that was double strapped (one through the handle and the shoulder strap entwined through the retractable handle of my suitcase) but I’m grateful for having everything back. Now to put into place the backup plans to ensure if anything similar happens, my work isn’t lost irretrievably. No one can be this lucky twice.

My business was hit by catastrophic backup failure

Missing laptop

Missing laptop

Yesterday’s state of the nation address (SONA) seated all of the presidential office in one venue, presenting the daunting prospect of what to do should something terrible happen to everyone in that room? Who would be president and how would America move forwards? I was on a plane as the SONA was taking place, and we were asked to turn of our electronic devices for wheels-up it got me wondering what would happen if my one-man business was affected with a large loss.

Well as it happens that something awful happened on the last leg of my journey home last night, as my bag containing my laptop and hard drives with backups of all my data was stolen last night. The tool I use the most for my business – my 17’ MacBook Pro i7 is gone. I’ve lost my previous clients’ work and all the original RAW files of every wedding, portrait, event and Guinness World Record I’ve photographed, save for a few images on my website, Dropbox and one set on a memory card that hasn’t been reformatted yet.

Everything I’ve photographed, edited, stored, written, planned and budgeted since I started Britrock Photography are lost. Police reports, lost property reports, insurance claims and desperate pleas on Craigslist for the return of the hard drive will likely yield nothing more than time spent in hope.

The only way out of this situation is to get remotivated and act as those this is a business reset. Wasting too much time pontificating or worrying about what could have, should have, would have taken place, I need to assess what I have and plan to start again.

Thankfully I have my camera gear – cameras, lenses, speedlights, reflectors and the skills I’ve learned. A couple of clients and some experience. You can’t lose the experiences and those are the critical elements that will drive me onwards.

Sadly I don’t have the funds to afford a replacement laptop to edit any of the new images I shoot, and that’s the next biggest hurdle. I’m writing this from an ancient PC still running XP with a nervous tic that prevents Firefox from running without a crash for more than 7 minutes at a time. Cue Firefox crash? Funnily enough I may have to extend the up-time estimate to 10 minutes. Positivity is working already.

From this day forward I to promise to create a double if not triple backup of everything. I will use Google Drive, Dropbox and Mozy to ensure I don’t have to start budgets and plans from scratch ever again. Most importantly I will make sure I have a double backup of all future images I shoot.

Wish me luck on my business rebirth.

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