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Thread started 19 Apr 2015 (Sunday) 13:05
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Question about backup programs...

 
Perfectly ­ Frank
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Apr 19, 2015 13:05 |  #1

Do backup programs usually compress data being backed up?
And if they do, is that a concern when backing up photos - can the compression degrade IQ?
I'm especially thinking of raw files.

And if they are compressed, there must be a way of uncompressing the data when the backup files are needed.
For example, if I use brand X backup software to back up data to an external HD, then I'd also have to use
brand X software to uncompress the data when retrieved from the HD. Yes or no?


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nqjudo
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Apr 19, 2015 13:20 |  #2

Compression methods are often configurable to some degree depending on the program and there are standards of compression that will work across different softwares but generally it is best practice to use the same program for retrieval that was used for backup. That being said I don't really trust any backup software. I use Time Machine which is built into Mac and I do some other backups and clones using GoodSync but when it comes to my photos I create an uncompressed copy of my files at the OS level. I've just had too many hiccups and buggy experiences with software backup solutions in the past.


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mike_d
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Apr 19, 2015 13:34 |  #3

Yes, backup software typically compresses your data to save space on the target medium. But its reversible, lossless compression so you get back exactly what you put into it. When backing up already-compressed files like jpgs, little or no additional compression is achieved, unlike when you back up something like Word documents.

Yes, you'll usually need to use the same software to restore as you used to back up. This type of software usually creates proprietary archive files which contain your data. Some programs simply copy files from source to target but this causes a few issues: Malware can see those backed up files and it makes it difficult to manage differential/increment​al backups. Some programs like Windows 7's backup utility will create a locked down folder on the backup drive containing copies of your files. If you browse this folder, you'll see all of your files but good luck figuring out which version you want. So effectively, you need to the same software to restore since it'll have access to the database so it can restore the right versions.




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hollis_f
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Apr 19, 2015 14:14 |  #4

I would recommend getting backup software that can create a bootable CD, allowing you to boot and read/restore the backup files.


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mike_d
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Apr 19, 2015 16:12 |  #5

hollis_f wrote in post #17523929external link
I would recommend getting backup software that can create a bootable CD, allowing you to boot and read/restore the backup files.

Always a good idea. This feature is often described as "bare metal restore" meaning that you don't have to restore the operating system, drives, applications, and backup software before restoring your data.

I use a program called Image for Windows to create images of my C drive which contains Windows and applications. I can restore everything in one step by booting from a CD with the program on it.




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tim
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Apr 20, 2015 15:40 |  #6

There are two types of backup:
- Image file backup (not photographic images in this context). This will take an image of the system drive so you can easily restore it. Macrium Reflectexternal link (free/paid) is a good example. It comes with a boot disk that lets you restore easily.
- Data backup. This will take a backup of your data, compress it, and next time you make a backup will just back up changes (incremental backup). Genie9external link is one example. This may or may not have a boot disk, but it's largely irrelevant as you need a working operating system to use the data anyway, generally.

Some software does both, like Acronis. I'm not a huge Acronis fan, it seemed slow to me, and not so flexible.


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pixaeiro
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Apr 20, 2015 17:21 |  #7

Instead of Backup software, I like to use Revision Control software, which allows you to backup your files, and also the history of your files.
For example, if I save and submit an image 10 times (10 revisions) I can go back to any of those revisions.
If I rename a file, I can update the whole workspace to a previous date. This is great when working with projects that use other files as sources (3D, illustrator...)
At home I use subversion, which is free and allows me to work with images.
At work I use Perforce, which also have a free version for personal use.
And... I always zip and save the repository to an external HDD.




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tim
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Apr 20, 2015 17:31 |  #8

pixaeiro wrote in post #17525473external link
Instead of Backup software, I like to use Revision Control software, which allows you to backup your files, and also the history of your files.
For example, if I save and submit an image 10 times (10 revisions) I can go back to any of those revisions.
If I rename a file, I can update the whole workspace to a previous date. This is great when working with projects that use other files as sources (3D, illustrator...)
At home I use subversion, which is free and allows me to work with images.
At work I use Perforce, which also have a free version for personal use.
And... I always zip and save the repository to an external HDD.

This can be good for some types of information, but for backups that involve large amounts of data I don't think it's ideal. Version control systems are meant for source code and documentation, not 50GB of RAW files. Your repository must be massive, and things will start slowing down. Also I don't think you really need all those capabilities, so it's overhead. I use SVN for my source code control for things I develop at home.

If it works for you, great, but I would suggest that it's not applicable to most people.


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Perfectly ­ Frank
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Apr 21, 2015 11:31 |  #9

Thanks for the comments, folks.

But I'm not clear on the idea of a bootable CD.

Let's see if I have this right...

I can use a program like Macrium or Acronis to make an image of my laptop's HD. This "image" is a big file containing
a copy of the OS, applications, data, and settings. This image file is stored on an external HD (backup drive).

Should my laptop's HD crash (mechanical failure), I can install a new HD and then use the bootable CD to install OS
files that is enough to get the laptop operating. I then connect the external HD and the image file stored on it is
transferred to the new HD. Then I'm back in business.

Do I have the idea right?


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mike_d
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Apr 21, 2015 11:34 |  #10

Perfectly Frank wrote in post #17526448external link
Thanks for the comments, folks.

But I'm not clear on the idea of a bootable CD.

Let's see if I have this right...

I can use a program like Macrium or Acronis to make an image of my laptop's HD. This "image" is a big file containing
a copy of the OS, applications, data, and settings. This image file is stored on an external HD (backup drive).

Should my laptop's HD crash (mechanical failure), I can install a new HD and then use the bootable CD to install OS
files that is enough to get the laptop operating. I then connect the external HD and the image file stored on it is
transferred to the new HD. Then I'm back in business.

Do I have the idea right?

The bootable CD contains a mini operating system, usually either Windows PE or Linux. It contains just enough information to start the computer, access your USB hard drive containing the backup image, and the program for restoring that image to your internal hard drive. You would start the computer from this CD while your USB drive is attached so that it can be detected during bootup.




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pixaeiro
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Apr 21, 2015 11:35 as a reply to tim's post |  #11

Perforce and Subversion are used for game development too. The workspace in a game development company can easily be 1 or 2 TB, and the repository can be in the order of tens or hundreds of TBs.

50 GB is not a large amount of data!

In game development, besides source code, the workspace can contain thousands of image files, illustrator projects, Photoshop files, 3d files and all kinds of digital content, and for these type of files Revision Control is not a nice to have, it is a must have.




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hollis_f
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Apr 21, 2015 14:01 |  #12

You may have to enter your PC's bios when it starts to boot (mine is accessed by pressing F2 - others may differ) and tell it you want to boot from the CD.


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Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll complain about the withdrawal of his free fish entitlement.
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tim
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Apr 21, 2015 16:51 |  #13

Perfectly Frank wrote in post #17526448external link
Thanks for the comments, folks.

But I'm not clear on the idea of a bootable CD.

Let's see if I have this right...

I can use a program like Macrium or Acronis to make an image of my laptop's HD. This "image" is a big file containing
a copy of the OS, applications, data, and settings. This image file is stored on an external HD (backup drive).

Should my laptop's HD crash (mechanical failure), I can install a new HD and then use the bootable CD to install OS
files that is enough to get the laptop operating. I then connect the external HD and the image file stored on it is
transferred to the new HD. Then I'm back in business.

Do I have the idea right?

Yes. The bootable disk contains just enough of an operating system to restore your data. You generally can't access your data directly, you have to restore the image to a new disk and then access it.


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Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

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tim
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Apr 21, 2015 16:53 |  #14

pixaeiro wrote in post #17526459external link
Perforce and Subversion are used for game development too. The workspace in a game development company can easily be 1 or 2 TB, and the repository can be in the order of tens or hundreds of TBs.

50 GB is not a large amount of data!

In game development, besides source code, the workspace can contain thousands of image files, illustrator projects, Photoshop files, 3d files and all kinds of digital content, and for these type of files Revision Control is not a nice to have, it is a must have.

Agree that for some things version control is useful, but in this case I think the benefits are negligible as you don't really need version control of images, and the overheads (eg speed) could be significant. Then there's the fact that many images are deliberately deleted (culled) and these would live on in the version control system taking up unnecessary space. Also 50GB is one event, in the past 10 years I've probably taken around 8TB of photos.


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pixaeiro
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Apr 21, 2015 18:58 |  #15

tim wrote in post #17526855external link
Agree that for some things version control is useful, but in this case I think the benefits are negligible as you don't really need version control of images, and the overheads (eg speed) could be significant. Then there's the fact that many images are deliberately deleted (culled) and these would live on in the version control system taking up unnecessary space. Also 50GB is one event, in the past 10 years I've probably taken around 8TB of photos.

I agree with you on the delete fact. Once a file is in the depot, there is no way to take it out without major surgery.

However, I still think that it is useful to have revision control for images. It is very easy to use a tool like GIMP or Photoshop to open a jpeg image, resize and save, overwriting the original image. If the file is in subversion, the fix is just to delete it and update.

With revision control, no matter what mistakes you make in your workspace, you'll always be able to recover your files to a previous revision.




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Question about backup programs...
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