Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time for an update- and a "Tech Tip"- "Nerding Nerding Out Workflow"

Well, its been almost a year since my last post- why do I keep doing that? Oh well, guess that's just how it goes.

I have been thinking for a while to start doing some "tech tips" on photography since really, that is what I am good at. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my first (personal not business) Facebook Live posing- if not, here is a link- Facebook Live. In that video, I show a new (to me) portable hard drive I am using for my 2017 OTR Images (on the road). Since posting that video, I have finally upgraded my home file system and photography workflow.

Now here is where most people's eyes glaze over and you go back to facebook looking for cat videos...wait, don't do that yet...Fist, this is NOT that hard. Second, this is targeted for the casual to heavy photographer, not a hard core pro who shoots gigs upon gigs at a wedding or sporting event so stay with me.

The Challenges:

  1. 8 Hard drives sitting on my desk attached to multiple computers
  2.  Image files stored EVERY WHERE!
  3.  Backup- safety measure in case of lightning strike, drive failure, or other disaster

Creating the process:

First you have to get somewhat organized. I was fairly organized by date, event or project using Adobe Lightroom, however, it was spread across 2 2TB drives and a few portable drives. So I sat one day drawing on a napkin how I would think my worklfow SHOULD look....My drawing skills are quite awful, so here is a recreation of that sketch-

I know, I know, your thinking- that's NOT 8 drives... no, I am simplifying here. I have already told you my "OTR" drive is my portable 2017 disk. If I fill that, I purchase another drive to continue 2017. So that's the easy part. Here is where it got complicated. I was storing files across MANY drives but NO real backup plan. If a drive failed, the chances were, it MAY have been copied to the other drive if I remembered. So here is what the above system does- First, one of the 2TB ("A") drives is legacy images (Selects from 2016 and earlier from those other hard drives that are no longer cluttering my desk that are now sitting safely in a gun safe). The other ("B") is a TimeMachine system (iMac) back up. Since TimeMachine likes 2x the space of the backed up items, this is 2x my 1TB internal hard drive of the iMac. The portable drive is automatically copied to the 6TB RAID the instant it is attached to the computer. Here is an important note- The RAID is my WORKING HARD DRIVE NOT MY BACKUP. RAID drives are never the back up, but that is for another tech article.

What you need:

In order for this to work you will need to put in place a few tools to help.
  1. A good fast RAID or LARGE storage area. (I picked up one of these in a 6TB configuration on a close out sale- G-Technology Studio RAID.
  2. A reliable cloud storage system. I am currently using BackBlaze. I like the simplicity, mobile access and monitoring and for the price, it seemed to be what I needed. 
  3. A customizable drive cloning software. For this, I am using Carbon Copy Cloner. This is what automatically copies the portable drive to the RAID. There are PC applications as well such as Acronis True Image and others, but I have not tried any of them so do your research.

The Process:

Once those are in place you can build a very easy, quick workflow that is somewhat bulletproof and uses a 3, 2, 1 plan (3 copies, 2 different locations, 1 off site).

The 2TB drive and the portable drive are basically the unedited files, the "raws" if you will. Those two drives get copied to the Backblaze cloud along with my local hard drive (yes, I know its on the TimeMachine, but that's a LOCAL BACK UP).
Also, My Lightroom catalogs are stored on the iMac HD, so that keeps ALL my settings from the image edits. If for example I have a RAID failure and have to re-edit an image, I have a copy of the Lightroom catalog I can pull down no matter where I am and access the images.
Lightrooms image directory is the RAID. This is SOOOO much faster than using a standard external drive- that's what RAID's are best for.

I think that's enough to get you started, or at least thinking about your workflow. This is such an important part of being a photographer. Just imagine what would happen if your hard drives were zapped by a power surge or worse, you had a fire in your house. Where would all those important memories be?

Until next time, see you on the road :)