I love my Nikon d7000, takes great images. I upgraded from a 6MP D50 and one thing I was not prepared for was the huge amount of disk space that collections of 16MP files were going take up. I use Aperture 3 and now Lightroom 5 for my photography workflow. Both are great but the real bottleneck is deciding how and where to archive the RAW files. I've tried backing up LR catalogs to cloud accounts but there were literally 45k files that had to be transferred and whole process was incredible show because of the amount and size of the files. The best thing I'v come up with is to just use an external drive but in this cloud age there has to be a better way, no?

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    @AJHenderson - I'm not convinced. This is a relevant issue to photographers and we do want to be a complete source of information. Essentially, storage and archiving problems are very real for photographers. Now, having said that, this could be a duplicate. There are similar questions on the site. – John Cavan Dec 5 '13 at 16:18
  • @JohnCavan - that's fair, I guess my main thought is that this basically boils down to "uploading is slow, is there a better way to upload." It really has nothing to do with photography and really isn't a good question in the first place since the answer should be the obvious. Internet upload speeds are generally slow for consumer connections and you just have to wait. There isn't some magical way to improve it. Now a question about how to best work an online backup in to your workflow would be very good or asking about features of a cloud storage that would be helpful for sharing. – AJ Henderson Dec 5 '13 at 16:28
  • @AJHenderson The fact that one answer seems so obvious doesn't mean that there's not a non-obvious approach that might help. For example, there are plenty of cloud-based solutions that back up your files in the background. It may not matter that it takes a week or two to do your initial backup as long as it proceeds unattended and you're not adding data faster than it can be backed up. Or, if your connection isn't the bottleneck a distributed peer to peer system can be a cheaper and speedier solution. – Caleb Dec 5 '13 at 18:36
  • @Caleb - yeah, but at that point it's moving back in to the realm of being a general computing question that is agnostic to photography concerns. If asking what kind of chair I should use when editing photos on-topic? It's an extreme example, but the combined effect is why I felt this wasn't a very good fit. – AJ Henderson Dec 5 '13 at 18:38
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    I agree that this question is essentially a duplicate of the one linked. Is it best to just delete this post? – Vinny Dec 5 '13 at 22:15

In general, cloud storage is only a good idea if you don't mind the idea of losing all your work. Unless you have a provider with an SLA that guarantees availability, any number of things could take out your provider and leave you high and dry. For archival purposes, the easiest and cheapest approach is always going to be local storage. Cloud backups work well for off-site storage as a secondary backup (in case of local destruction) but they should never be trusted as your sole or primary means of backup.

As for the speed of uploading. Most residential connections have horribly slow upload speeds. There is no way around this. Any decent file storage site is going to take files as fast as your home Internet can provide them. There is no magical secret to making it go faster other than to buy a better Internet connection. If you want to verify if your home connection is the issue, I'd recommend trying something like Speedtest.net and checking if your upload rate differs significantly from your upstream bandwidth as reported by Speedtest.

Beyond that, there is nothing magical about cloud storage. You manage it just like you would manage a local external hard drive. The only difference is that you have no direct control over the cloud storage and it may have an option to be able to share your files out to other people. Some services are more targeted at images, offering features like the ability to resize, edit or sell the photos online and providing galleries, however that won't help you any with the pain and slowness of uploading a large number of large files.

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    I don't follow your logic at all. "Cloud storage is only good if you don't mind losing all of your work"? What? That doesn't make any sense. I also don't agree that the cheapest and easiest way to archive is local. Most cloud options are a download of a program a single time that takes 1-2mins, and you never touch it again. It also can be much more cost effective than running a NAS 24/7, buying drives to replace dead ones, the cost of managing and learning about it, etc. Further, the fact that "[cloud] storage should never be trusted as a sole backup" is true of any storage! Not just cloud! – dpollitt Dec 6 '13 at 3:58
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    @dpollitt - the point is that cloud is out of your control. You have no control over how your data is handled or how secure it is. There are cases of cloud storage providers going out of business or being shut down suddenly and people simply losing access to their data. The general rule in data storage is that if you don't control what it's stored on, it isn't reliable. It is true that no backup should be trusted as sole for high critical data though, even local. I trust a local redundant raid array far more than I trust anything short of an Enterprise SLA'd cloud provider though. – AJ Henderson Dec 6 '13 at 4:35
  • And an enterprise class SLA'd cloud provider is going to be very pricey. You get what you pay for when it comes to storage. – AJ Henderson Dec 6 '13 at 4:36
  • I should perhaps add that I work for an enterprise class cloud SAAS provider. Cloud based services can be great, but they also have to be something you manage and understand the risks of. Most people don't and end up getting burned before they realize why the cheapest guy around is the cheapest guy around. – AJ Henderson Dec 6 '13 at 14:49

There is an option who can easily fit in a photographer workflow. The people from SmugMug offers and option called SmugVault. With SmugVault you can upload RAW files, but you can also upload PSD, TIF and almost others formats. The price is a little high, you need to have a PRO account which start $40/yr plus the extra fee of the SmugVault account witch is approximately $0.09 per gigabyte per month. If you upload the contents of a 4 GB memory card, you'll be out $0.36 per month for storage (quote from website). This is for storage of files which are not JPG, GIF, and/or PNG. Again the maybe is a little pricy (who knows) but the peace of mind and the easily way to implement it in my photography workflow sometimes is priceless. (I don’t work for SmugMug I just think is a great option for serious photographers).

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  • Depending on your level of expertise, getting your own server is cheaper than that. I've got a mirrored 1TB drive on my personal server (which is also a beefy machine that handles all my web hosting and such) and I only pay $110 a month for it. Just the storage would be $90. There are also managed packages for around the same price where you don't have to worry about maintaining the server. (I use a 1&1 Dedicated Server.) – AJ Henderson Dec 6 '13 at 4:39

Initial upload to any cloud based system is going to be pretty painful, but with background processing and patience once it is complete, maintaining the incremental uploads are not nearly so hard.

Amazon Glacier is a reasonable choice, at $0.01/GB/month (slightly more for the initial upload) it is affordable and if Amazon is to be believed very reliable. They do charge more for retrieval, but for me this is a non-issue -- I hope to never use it, as I have local backups -- but if something terrible were to happen it is a good safety net.

You mentioned Aperture, so I am guessing you use a mac, in which case Arq is a nice backup solution that supports Amazon Glacier directly.

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