Archiving Work Part 1

Cloud Storage


Armand Cabrera

Network storage has been around for quite a while but system access was limited to a company or possibly a University. In 2007 Dropbox created the first public subscription based cloud service.

At the entry level most cloud storage providers offer you free space. This is in the 5 to 10 GB with the ability to buy more storage for a monthly or yearly fee. Remeber this information is fluid and things change rapidly it is always good to do a search on cloud services to get current information. This information is relevant in January 2014.

Amazon, Apple, DropBox, Google and Microsoft all offer free space so if you have an account with one of these services you already have access to at least 5 GB of free space.

For $60 to $100 a year some companies offer unlimited storage.  As of this writing JustCloud, YouSendit, OpenDrive, Carbonite and Online Storage all offer unlimited plans for those that need a lot of space.  If you work digitally, or use video as well as photography these plans might be for you. Personally I can get by with about 1TB of space a year but as image file resolution increases so will our needs for more space.

You should know that keeping things with a cloud service can forfeit your exclusive right to that data. Many of the contracts state this in their EULA (end user license agreement) be sure to read and understand what you are giving away before you just click through that contract.

Most of these companies have basic security but the problem with services is you are pooling a lot of information into a few places. While their security is probably better than your home computer security, your home computer isn’t as likely to be hacked and information stolen just because an individual isn’t as big of a target for criminals. The other problem is when things are hacked you run a greater risk because most likely all your devices are connected to your cloud service. I have heard stories of people being locked out of all of their devices, (phone pad, laptop,) once their cloud account was hacked. Connectivity has its downside so be aware. Companies also come and go so beware just because you are with a company doesn’t mean that company can’t or won’t go out of business.

Cloud storage is cheap and easy to use but I would not depend on it as an only means of archiving my work. The threats I mentioned are lessened when you archive your work in multiple places. Personally I only use cloud storage to move and store current work and I keep that same work on magnetic drives in my studio. I do not link to my cloud storage so that if the information is compromised it doesn’t spread to everything I own. All retired work for permanent archiving is kept on physical media like Optical storage.

I use dropbox more than any other cloud storage service. If you join them, please use this link so I can get some more free space, thanks.

Archiving Work Part 2

Magnetic Storage
Armand Cabrera

Magnetic storage is what most people think of when they think of computer storage. It is the most popular form of storage for electronic devices and it is also the cheapest.  Everything from your camera to phone uses magnetic media.  For a very reasonable price you can get multiple gigabytes of space on a consumer disc no larger than the head of a thumbtack. Its portable and easy to use.That comes with a trade-off though; magnetic storage is notoriously impermanent. It is great for short term storage or transferring files from your devices but it will not survive long term storage reliably. External and internal drives are the way most of us store our files on our computers.  I use a 2 terabyte external drive for my main computer all my files and photos are kept there and not on the internal computer drive.  That drive is roughly the size of a large smart phone and uses USB connectivity.

You can now get 6 terabyte drives although 2TB to 4TB are more common.  A good 2 terabyte drive is less than $100 USD at the time of this writing with 4 TB drives around $150 USD.  Computers that are a couple of years older have trouble recognizing more than 2 TB drives sometimes so make sure you check your model and manufacturer to see if you can use the bigger drives. For most artists a terabyte is more than enough for a year of images even for digital work. That would be roughly equal to ten thousand 100 MB files.

I swap my external drive with a new one every year or so. I keep the old ones after transferring the information to optical media for more permanent storage. So far these kinds of drives seem to last about ten years before the files show serious signs of corruption which renders most of the information unreadable but I have also had drives that became unreadable in just a year or two. It is always smart to keep important things in more than one place and really important things in hardcopy.

Archiving Work part 3

Optical Storage
Armand Cabrera

Optical Storage is the most permanent form of commercial storage available. Optical storage are discs like standard CD and DVD and Blu-Ray discs which can be marked in patterns that are then read by focused laser light. Most of these are considered to last longer than magnetic storage but are still not permanent.  A CD can hold 700 MB of data a DVD 4.5 GB . A Blu-Ray DVD holds 25 GB, 50 GB or 100 GB. Standard optical media are susceptible to UV Light and damage from temperature and mishandling. The dye layer used to write the information on decays over a few years’ and is considered usable for 8 to 10 years.

There is a relatively new type of optical storage disc out now made by Millenniata called Mdisc that claim a 1,000 years of permanence. Mdiscs use a rock like material instead dyes to record the patterns on the disc physically marking the disc with the information. These discs are more expensive than standard discs but even if they only last 100 years, the extra price would be worth it. Mdiscs need a compatible machine to use them; they cannot record but will play in a standard machine. Larger companies now offer such machines and compatibility. Mdiscs come as standard DVD’s that hold 4.7 GB per disc and Blu-Ray DVD’s that hold 25 GB per disc.

 All storage has their drawbacks and physical limitations. Ultimately it is up to each individual to decide what’s right for their working conditions and budget. I hope these brief posts gave people ideas for their own solutions.