Thursday, October 02, 2008

Business Day Thursday; Super Secure, Super Easy, Super Cheap On-Line Storage

Hey gang, how many of you guys and girls are using on-line backup system? My guess is probably not many of you. Most of us are satisfied with our CDs, DVDs, cheap USB drives, etc. There are a lot of on-line storage solutions available and most of them cost an arm and a leg – like in the $$$ per gigabyte range.

In March 2006, got very smart, well in my opinion they've always been smart they just got even smarter. Amazon decided to leverage the massive amount of extra storage they have throughout their extensive data infrastructure. They call their new initiative Amazon S3 - the 3S's stand for Simple Storage Service.

They decided to rent their excess storage to anyone for any number of things from software development to data storage. It’s the data storage that has been intriguing me these last several months.

Here is the deal;
Get this, instead of spending the average $10/month for 10 gigs of on-line storage, you can get storage from Amazon for $1.50 per 10 gig/month. You heard right that's only a dime and a nickel, fifteen cents, per gig! That’s about as cheap as it gets. Yep, you have to pay to upload those 10 gigs up to Amazon but that cost is only a $1.00. Furthermore, there is a retrieval cost but that amounts to $1.70/10 gigs to retrieve your data. but that's still just a drop in the bucket.

When I originally started checking out storage solutions last year, a lot of the software available to simple data storage solution was still in beta. Now we have some solid solutions that make the entire process nearly effortless. Here is the link from Amazon showing some of those solutions right here. My two favorite solutions are Jungle Disc and Both install easily and simply set up a virtual drive on your local computer which treats your online storage just like a drive on your computer. It’s really easy. You need to get yourself set-up with an Amazon S3 account, not a big deal, install the software, add all the security codes and you are good to go.

Here is a possible drawback;
A possible drawback.... Your Internet speed determines how fast the data uploads and downloads will be. It could still take several minutes to move a gig of data around. So uploading 40 gigs of RAW files from a wedding may not be the thing to do. A little good news here is that it handles all the uploading in the background so you really don't notice it.

And here is the jewel of an idea!
I think the best back up strategy is this. Why not take the client’s selected and finished images – bridal, portrait, etc. - compress the 100-200 images to say an 80 quality JPG – only about 200 megs worth at best, and upload only these preferred images to your on-line Amazon storage drive. That amounts to less than a nickel per wedding for 200 images. Upload time would be fast and you (and your clients) now have a super secure back up of their most important images.

When you purchase a piece of art, it usually comes with a certificate of authenticity. Now we can offer our clients something very close to that same certificate. Let’s call it a Certificate of Image Security, which verifies the archival safety of each of their selected images backed by one of the top Internet companies on the planet. Not a bad little add-on for your photographic services. Just thought you might like to think about it.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. We've got bags to pack, a rental car to return, and a plane back to Cincinnati to catch. I'll see everybody back in Cincy tomorrow. Adios, -David


  1. After a fruitless search for on-line backups (Mozy, Carbonite and others just didn't seem to suit me), I thought about Amazon's storage services and got basically where you did.

    I'm test driving BeInSync and liking what I'm seeing. They are a combination system where you can sync folders on two or more computers and have the Amazon storage available as well.

    The on-line storage is good in the sense that it will maintain 2 or more versions of a file depending on your settings. Kind of allowing you to "go back" if you accidentally make a change to a key file and didn't have an original to work from. I could see the cost adding up to a serious amount though if you upload all your raw files, plus all revisions and want to keep them there.

    My initial thought is that I will sync key folders with a family member's computer to provide my off-site backup. No action is necessary on my part once I decide to share a folder (say "My Documents"). This is the key for me. BeInSync watches all my folders and immediately starts an upload as soon as a file is saved. I don't have to do anything.

    It also has a shared folder feature which could be used for giving client access to files but that isn't important to me.

    I'm just on my way to the other computer right now to set it up and see if I like this system.

    For me, this is still a secondary backup. Deleting a file locally appears to also delete the sync'd file. I have backup software in-house to give me zip files that I can archive on dvds and have protection against corrupted files etc.

  2. Here are some online backup reviews:

  3. You can for less than $50 per year you can store unlimited JPEG images on Smugmug and it does not cost anything to upload or download them.

  4. David, Nice post, but I am still leary of online storage. Who has access to all of your stuff while it's on 'the net'? Who will have access in the future? What happens to everyone's data when Amazon changes owners or disappears in some unforseen circumstance?

    I know that there are answers to these questions, but in the end, I still like to be the owner of my data. Local storage and network attached storage are so cheap these days, that I don't see why people wouldn't just backup at home and keep an offsite backup at the office, or your parents' house for example.

    A terybyte drive is $129 today. It'll be under $100 within a few short months. Drobos are readily available.

    With storage so fast and so cheap, I don't understand the appeal of online storage.
    ...just another viewpoint.