Every pho­tog­ra­ph­er wants pho­tos to not sud­den­ly dis­ap­pear. In the old days, a dry cab­i­net with box­es pro­vid­ed (well, up to a fire-flood-rob­bery) almost infi­nite shelf life for neg­a­tives.

What now?

Memory cards

Advan­tage: they are insert­ed direct­ly into the cam­era

Cons: every­thing else

The cards are dead. More­over, depend­ing on the design and luck, they can die in the mid­dle of shoot­ing, and it is absolute­ly irre­versible — not a sin­gle lab­o­ra­to­ry will be able to return the fresh­ly shot for any mon­ey. There­fore, by the way, for respon­si­ble film­ing, you need cam­eras with two slots and record­ing in par­al­lel on both.

The cards are small. They are too small and eas­i­ly lost.

Road maps. Today, cards of decent qual­i­ty cost from 5–6 thou­sand per ter­abyte, while cards of decent qual­i­ty and a decent amount of HDD are 2–3 times cheap­er.

Hard drives, external or internal

Advan­tages: inex­pen­sive, do not depend on the Inter­net

Weak­ness­es: unre­li­a­bil­i­ty

An exter­nal hard dri­ve is sim­ple, com­pact, con­nect­ed-record­ed-dis­con­nect­ed-removed.

But hard dri­ves, like cards, are mor­tal, and also sud­den­ly mor­tal. SMART mon­i­tor­ing is a good thing, but I have ever evac­u­at­ed data from a col­laps­ing disk with com­plete­ly “green” mon­i­tor­ing.

Exter­nal hard dri­ves are eas­i­ly stolen. The thing is com­pact, valu­able, what is there.

Well, any sin­gle stor­age is unsta­ble to force majeure. Fire, flood, search, theft can irrev­o­ca­bly destroy the pho­to archive.

DVD and more

Pros: dura­bil­i­ty

Dis­ad­van­tages: expen­sive, take up a lot of space, small amount of mem­o­ry

Opti­cal writable or rewritable media, or any oth­er remov­able media today, are either insane­ly expen­sive or obscene­ly small. 4 giga­bytes — the stan­dard size of a record­able DVD — is sim­ply ridicu­lous today. If they were 4 ter­abytes, there would be some kind of con­ver­sa­tion. In fact, if the laser disc is not scratched, it will last indef­i­nite­ly. There is noth­ing to break-demag­ne­tize-dis­col­or there. But size, size… Although some mas­ter­pieces of mas­ter­pieces or com­pro­mis­ing evi­dence of com­pro­mis­ing evi­dence can be stored on them.

Cloud storage

Advan­tages: inex­pen­sive, acces­si­ble from any­where, allow you to exchange data

Dis­ad­van­tages: dif­fi­cult to cal­cu­late risks

Looks sim­ple. I bought (or received for free) a place on the drop­box-googledisk-yan­dexdisk-any­where else, and reign, lying on your side! Free bonus — con­ve­nient to give away large files.

But there are nuances. As a sysad­min, I know them very well.

  • Secu­ri­ty issues. Every­thing with a proces­sor is sub­ject to them, but large ser­vices are espe­cial­ly affect­ed. Pass­words are stolen, data is encrypt­ed or pub­lished with depress­ing reg­u­lar­i­ty.
  • The prob­lems are polit­i­cal. A cloud provider may have a sit­u­a­tion when it can­not or does not want to sup­port the ser­vice in your region. At best, you will have a week to evac­u­ate data, at worst — “Sor­ry, good­bye.”
  • A very unpleas­ant kind of polit­i­cal prob­lem is the inva­sion of effec­tive man­agers. Saved on back­up, saved on admin — oh, your data is gone, sor­ry, please! It is clear that this is unlike­ly for espe­cial­ly large providers, but any­thing hap­pens. The author has seen a not very small ser­vice that was in the state “The site is not respond­ing, ser­vices are not work­ing, tech­ni­cal sup­port is not pick­ing up the phone” for three days.
  • The prob­lem is para­noid, but nonethe­less. Some third par­ties may tech­ni­cal­ly have access to your files.

Well, for­get about the pay­ment is very unde­sir­able.


Net­work-attached stor­age. Stor­age attached to the net­work. Your own provider.

Advan­tages: mod­er­ate­ly reli­able, it is known who serves

Dis­ad­van­tages: expen­sive, insta­bil­i­ty to force majeure

As a rule, NAS does not use sin­gle disks for stor­age, but disk arrays. If every­thing is done as it should, then the fail­ure of one disk will only lead to a noti­fi­ca­tion to the admin — “Change!”. For the extra mon­ey, you can keep disks on hot stand­by, and in gen­er­al, for the cost of less than a pro­fes­sion­al cam­era, you can get a device with almost absolute reli­a­bil­i­ty.

How­ev­er, NAS is a com­put­er, albeit a spe­cial­ized one (but it can also be done on the basis of a reg­u­lar one). And it requires cer­tain knowl­edge to main­tain, and in the absence of a good admin, it can sud­den­ly become very vul­ner­a­ble to attacks (although, say, in the area of ​​​​respon­si­bil­i­ty of the author of these lines, the last record­ed secu­ri­ty inci­dent hap­pened a lit­tle over 20 years ago).

And, of course, fires and floods. Again, from the author’s per­son­al expe­ri­ence: there is a main serv­er, there is a back­up serv­er, both have disk arrays, but … there is a toi­let on the floor above. On New Year’s Eve, the counter is filled with water. All servers and, most impor­tant­ly, all disks instant­ly went into an unre­cov­er­able state…

But what does the ideal look like?

The ide­al does not exist. But, if you real­ly want to do every­thing like adults …

Make two NAS. On your own com­put­ers, not on rent­ed ones (this is a fun­da­men­tal point. Even if you can­not pay, you at least guar­an­tee that your com­put­er will not be giv­en to some­one by clean­ing the disks or for­get­ting to do it). In good data cen­ters. On dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents (in the most extreme case — in dif­fer­ent parts of a large city, every­thing that is not an atom­ic war is not ter­ri­ble for such a loca­tion).

With a good and reli­able sys­tem admin­is­tra­tor. As a result — with ade­quate mon­i­tor­ing, time­ly elim­i­na­tion of secu­ri­ty prob­lems and pre­ven­tive replace­ment of car­ri­ers. With all the trap­pings of a good mod­ern sys­tem such as data encryp­tion and tools to recov­er data after acci­den­tal or mali­cious dele­tion of files.

Expen­sive? Well, yes. How­ev­er, it all depends on how much you val­ue your archive. And, I think, many have seen pho­tog­ra­phers who car­ry equip­ment worth the cost of an apart­ment in a provin­cial town in their back­packs.