Off-site data storage & back-up options – File Transporter
Update (May 2015): Unfortunately the File Transporter didn’t live up to its promise. Using Finder (on a Mac), it becomes so slow to navigate within the Transporter Library, that it is rendered useless for every day access to files. You will see a lot of the spinning ball while waiting for your machine to respond.
If you lose a hard drive or computer, would you be able to bounce back with your data and images intact? If not, then we need to have a quiet conversation here. An urgent conversation. Having a solid workflow and disaster plan in place, is an essential, non-negotiable part of being a photographer.
A single point of failure – if you’re a photographer, than that’s the one thing you really, really, really need to avoid in your digital workflow. Actually, this is true for anyone who works with computers and data. Regardless of whether you just have snapshots of your kids, or whether you’re shooting as a professional photographer. If you have your images on only one device or computer, then you arere bound to be in tears some day.
A single point of failure – it’s most often your hard drive. Hard drives will crash … eventually. They will become corrupted … eventually. So if you’re working on just the one hard drive, and don’t have a system in place where you have at least one back-up, you are tendering for trouble. Costly trouble. Judging by the number of photographers desperately asking for advice on the forums and on Faceboook, it is an easy guess that most photographers do not have a consistent robust digital workflow that will allow them to neatly side-step catastrophic failure.
But a single point of failure can exist anywhere in the chain of your digital workflow. If you have your data and photos on multiple hard drives, but they are all stored in your house, then you still have a single point of failure. Theft, floods, fire, tornadoes – any of these can destroy everything in your house with surprising suddenness. This is something you need to prepare for. No excuses.
A robust digital workflow need not be complicated or difficult to set up. There are easy options that you can set up yourself without having to be qualified as a network systems engineer. Anyone can do this. The tools are there and are easy to use.
And this is why I want to discuss options for off-site back-up and storage – and this handy idea behind the Connected Data – File Transporter. The File Transporter is effectively your own private 2Tb cloud where you keep your data off-site. More details about the File Transporter on their official site.
So now you may well be wondering why I am harping on about this topic again. Here’s the background story …
purchase the File Transporter
My (previous) setup for data storage and back-up
My digital workflow is continually adapting and changing, but I’ve discussed the setup previously in these articles:
– photography workflow – back-up plans for your main computer
– photography workflow and back-up plans for disaster
1. I keep my office documents and files, and anything that I need (other than images from shoots) in Dropbox, so that they all sync between my computers and other devices. This way, I can access any document anywhere.
2. Both my iMac and MacBook Pro are each backed up daily via Super-Duper to a bootable clone hard drive.
3. on-site storage:
3.a) For my images, I have two Drobos that I work off. One of them has dual redundancy. In other words, two hard drives that can fail before I am on the edge of being in trouble. (The other Drobo has single redundancy.)
3.b) I have another 2Tb hard drive where I store weddings and photo shoots that are most recent. (The past two years.)
4. off-site storage:
4.a) I have the JPGs from my weddings on a site (Zenfolio), so that clients can view and order images. It also offers me protection since they store the high-res JPGs.
4.b) I have everything on both Drobos backed-up on another cloud service, Backblaze.
Okay, so this is all pretty solid, I think. I have enough redundancy on site (my house and studio), and I have everything backed-up on a cloud service (Backblaze), with the super-crucial stuff (weddings and such), as JPGs on Zenfolio.
Then I had a minor hiccup that showed a weakness:
My office computer (iMac) had a glitch a few months ago, and I had to do a clean re-install of my OS. That in itself isn’t a huge issue, but just a mild inconvenience. Since I have everything solidly backed up and referenced via a combination of Drobox, and a bootable clone hard drive, it was easy enough to be up and running in a short time.
What I didn’t realize immediately, is that Backblaze somehow became disconnected from seeing that it has to back up the two Drobos. Backblaze then dropped everything but my main hard drive, without me realizing in time to correct it. Oh crap! Without realizing, I was working with a system that had a single point of failure – the hard drives / Drobos all being in one place – my house. It took about two months for all that data to back up to Backblaze initially! And now I’am right back there again … vulnerable while the data is slowly backing up to the cloud.
So I immediately started looking around at options, and noticed the Connected Data – File Transporter. I did some homework, reading up on what the File Transporter does, and how it works. I cautiously bought one, set it up at my home to make sure it actually does what I hoped it would … and then bought a second one. And now I am incorporating these two devices as part of my data storage and back-up plan.
The File Transporter, by Connected Data
The File Transporter, is a NAS (network attached storage) device. But, you can access it from anywhere! It is essentially your own 2Tb private cloud. If you’re familiar with Dropbox, then you know how this works … except that you have 2Tb of data, instead of being limited to (approx) 100 Gb.
I have one File Transporter set up in my home-office, and one in the studio. They share the same folders, and therefore share the same data and files. So if I lose all data on one site (theft, fire, etc), then I have all my data still at the other site! I can breathe again.
But the two Transporters need not share the same folders. It depends entirely on what you need to do with your workflow and data.
Here’s an example of a setup:
You could buy a File Transporter, and store it at a friend’s place. Your friend could store their File Transporter at your place. No files shared. Each File Transporter would be private. So where you are working at your home-office or studio, you could copy files over from your hard drive, to your File Transporter .. which is neatly tucked away out of sight at your friend’s place. Your File Transporter would need to be plugged into your friend’s Internet connection, either via ethernet cable directly into the router at your friend’s place, or via WiFi. (The WiFI option would be slower.)
In this example, the two File Transporters wouldn’t have the same folders, and each of you would access your File Transporter independently of the other person. Neat! So you can share all folders, or only some of the folders, or none of the folders. You have options!
You can even have someone access folders, by letting them sign up for an account with Connected Data, and allowing them selective access. In turn, you can access any File Transporters that you have access to, from anywhere in the world (that is connected to the Internet, obviously.)
Disadvantages? None that I can see yet. It was easy to set up and use. I can access my files from my home-office or the studio.
So with these nifty units in place, I have a solid back-up and data storage plan again that will ease any potential catastrophic events.
A few screen-captures from my initial setting up of the devices, to figure out how I am going to use them. This will give you an idea of your view when you log into the Connected Data control panel. From there on, you use Finder / Windows Explorer, to move your files around. Or use any program to open the files.
- Photography workflow – back-up plans for your main computer
- Photography workflow and back-up plans for disaster