Scott Hanselman

Give Grandpa and Grandma the gift of an off-site backup of your photos

December 19, 2011 Comment on this post [7] Posted in Musings | Tools
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My buddy Jeff Handley tweeted this nugget of brilliance recently.

Exactly. I've talked about backup strategies before. You just can't have too many backups. I have a NAS (Network Attached Storage...a fancy name for a black box in the closet we back up to) but I also have two external drives that are labeled A and B that I rotate between the safe at the bank.

My rules of thumb are:

  • Use an imaging tool like Acronis True Image to create images of the machines you REALLY care about.
    • You can also use the System Image tool built into Windows, but I prefer the additional options from Acronis.
  • Encrypt your external drives.
  • Backup files (and disk images) to two external drives
  • Keep one external drive off-site
  • Test your backups by practicing a restore. The rule of thumb is that backups ALWAYS succeed. It's restores that fail!

Jeff's idea is brilliant. Burn the extended family a nice DVD, perhaps with Picasa or Windows Live Photo Gallery and wrap it up as a gift!

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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December 19, 2011 16:33
Awesome idea. I use crashplan to backup, encrypt and keep histories of all changes. I have 1 constantly updating off site backup along with my nas and and my external hdd. Over paranoid, I like to think so =P
December 19, 2011 17:10
The gift DVD as backup is a cool idea – of course unless you’re hard drives fails at November and you lose almost a year of photos.

Backing up data to “the cloud” is a no-brainer, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive – on the other hand, for photos on-line backup isn’t cheap and isn’t easy.
I personally believe automatic on-line backup is the only way to go – at least unless you are much more disciplined than me.

I’ve tries rotating hard drives for off-site backup (I think I’ve “rotated” the disks once before forgetting to do it) and I’ve tried burning a DVD every week (that soon became every two weeks, then every month and soon it become “once in a while”).

I’ve spent a long time looking for a good place to store my photos on-line and then I had to write my own software to upload the photos (it’s at it’s not free because it costs me money to operate the back-end but it is cheaper than any alternative I could find)

December 19, 2011 20:25
Some time in April: "That DVD of pictures? What DVD? Did you come visit me this year Steven?" "Mom, my name is Scott."
December 20, 2011 3:31
Of course backups are necessary but all of this manual housekeeping is very annoying and the time can be better spent doing other things. It still needs to be less manual!
December 20, 2011 12:25

I simply love Mejuba the best. From what I know Mejuba ( is THE only site that offers free and unrestricted uploads of videos and pictures without ANY restrictions on file size, video length or monthly traffic. And uploads your originals. No monthly limits or quotas. You can upload 1GB per upload. Pictures and videos are stored in their original formats and are kept unmodified for backup. I also like that you can geo-tag your stuff so it shows up on a map. And you can search for stuff on the map – that’s cool! Even Google Street View is now implemented - eat that Youtube, Vimeo etc!!! As the only site I know of it uses a Windows Explorer like navigation with folders – super easy to use – even has drag and drop! It’s free, fast, nice design as SO much better than the other video sites. Still missing a few features - but I am sure they will be added later.

December 21, 2011 17:18
I use flikr - it's relatively cheap for unlimited storage (I have 40gb of family photos and video up there).
December 22, 2011 17:12
CrashPlan is definitely the way to go for offsite backups--or backups in general. I would even recommend setting relatives up with CrashPlan to have a larger P2P backup grid. The way I see it, helping relatives get everything backed up is an investment that pays dividends *when* they lose data.

On a side note, I have evaluated about 50 different backup solutions, and CrashPlan was the only one that met all of my requirements including delta-based backups, P2P, cloud-enabled, backing up to a local device, having a free and a paid version, etc. It's definitely worth looking at.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.