Long term storage

I need some help devising some systems...

I am a professional photographer, and I generate anywhere from 40-80GB of data per month.

History - I used to be a Network Technician/Desktop Support for about 400 users, so I am somewhat technically competent. I have been out of the field for about 5 years, so I am sure there are technologies that I am unaware exist.


1.) ARCHIVING and ACCESS - Because of my profession, I would like to be able to access the data that I archive today perhaps 10yrs from now. To this point, I have been backing up on DVD and storing them in a safe, but I am aware of the possible short life term of DVD's. What do you think is a reasonable or "best case" solution for Archival??

2.) BACKUP and RECOVERY - I need a reasonable solution for B&R of my current working files. I need to have access to about a year's worth of data, which equates to about 750GB of "active files". That number could go down if I had a more reliable and efficient way of archival.

--- P.S. I have an old computer that I have considered turning into a NAS unit, but I am concerned about transfer times over our network. Could I attach it to my workstation via E-Sata or something? Because we are moving around so much data, the solution needs to take speed into consideration.

Thanks for any help you can provide!! I am a small business, so my budget for a solution is not really large... perhaps $1.5-$2k??


Joe (www.jheiliger.com)
14 answers Last reply
More about long term storage
  1. Well my perspective is this. You should have 2 copies of your most important data. A DVD is fine, the short life of a DVD? That perplexes me as I have DVD's that are years old and they look brand spankin new, granted you have to take care of them! But they should last you decades...

    Ok storage solution... What you should do is set up a file server with 3 1TB drives in a RAID 5. You can do this with any el cheapo computer as long as it's got good cooling, a good power supply, and a good case with easy access in case a drive fails. You should arrange stuff by how often it's accessed. As things are accessed less or not at all for some time, burn it to dvd and leave it go. if you need more than 1TB of active space then You could build another file server. This will be best if you purchase W2K3 with 5 cals, i think you can get that off newegg for about $350 or something. NAS are a little expensive but certainly within your budget. Would you rather have NAS or a file server? What about offsite storage? You can pick up 1TB drives now for a couple hundred bucks. You could build 2 1TB file servers for about 2 grand, both having a RAID 5 array which will net you about 1.5TB of space logically. There are just way too many ways to go about this...

    You could just buy a dell desktop server. Either way an easy backup solution that is automatic or runs on a set automated schedule is way to expensive for your budget I'm thinking. The backups your going to have to do yourself monthly or whatever the case may be.
  2. I just speced out a Dell poweredge 2900 with dual power supplies and a RAID 5 array with 3 1TB drives for $3000. They offer a small business discount if you call them rather than order online. But if your not going to be setting up an active directory domain and your not going to be using the server for hosting email services or anything any cheap dual core with a couple GB of memory will surfice as long as you have a RAID controller and some good hardrives and a nice case.
  3. believe it or not... tape backup solutions are still popular and somewhat economical
  4. Well, easy and quick access is your everyday priority and for that it's hard to beat a simple NAS. The best unit's on the market for the small office IMO are the ones using Infrant technology. Netgear purchased Infrant about a year ago.

    If ya wanna start small, you can go with the Ready NAS Duo

    -Provides extra storage that can be conveniently shared with all your computers .....unlike a USB drive or external drive, , the ReadyNAS connects to the network and is simultaneously accessible via all connected Windows or Macintosh computers. And it connects at 1 Gb/s
    -You can access stored content anywhere via the Internet. If there is a broadband Internet connection and a home router, the ReadyNAS can be set up to provide secure access to all the stored files remotely via the Internet.
    -Adding a 2nd hard drive protects against drive failure by making a duplicate copy of all your data. The "spare" hard drive will keep an extra copy of all the data and instantly take over if the first hard drive should fail.
    -Supports most network music, picture and video players . Advanced media streaming support allows the ReadyNAS to directly serve media, with no PC required, to devices such as the NETGEAR EVA8000, Sonos® Digital Music System, Logitech Squeezebox™, Apple iTunes® clients, Sony Playstation® 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360®.
    -Embedded BitTorrent™ client for direct downloading from the Internet

    Can be bought for $679 w/ one 1 TB drive.....adding a 2nd 1 TB drive adds $296
    Can be bought for $499 w/ one 750 GB drive.....adding a 2nd 750 GBB drive adds $157
    Can be bought for $399 w/ one 500 GB drive.....adding a 2nd 500 GB drive adds $114

    Seems there ought be a diskless version given that subtracting the HD outta those base packages gives bvery different numbers....$325, $442, 383....If it was me, I';d by the 500 GB version, strip the HD, put it in my PC and then put two TB drives in it. Unit is warranted for 3 years, HD's 5 years.

    However w/ a 759 GB need now, that seems a bit too small. The Duo's big brother the Ready NAS NV+ is next in line. Similar to above but holds up to 4 drives and has 5 year warrant on drives and NAS

    I have one of these with twin 500 GB drives using their proprietary X-RAID. One real nice thing about this is that you can add any size drive to it in the future and it auto rebuilds. Your capacity however is limited to the (number of drives -1 ) x (the smallest drive ). So if I add two 750's, I will have 3 x 500 ..... but if I then add two more 750's taking out the 500's, it will auto rebuild itself to 3 x 750. The NV+ also comes with backup software including 5 client licenses.

    Here's some options

    Twin 500 GB NAS $999 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822122004
    Twin 750 GB NAS $1599 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822122012
    Twin 1 TB NAS $ 1699 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822122014
    Diskless $899 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822122010

    Using the Diskless version and building the above yourself costs:

    500 GB $1120
    750 GB $1200
    1 TB $1380

    500 GB Model = $2.00 per GB of usable storage
    Diskless + Twin 750 GB's = $1.60 per GB of usable storage
    Diskless + Twin 1 TB's = $1.38 of usable storage

    500 GB Model + Two 500 GB's = $0.96 per GB of usable storage
    Diskless + Twin 750 GB's = $0.67 per GB of usable storage
    Diskless + Twin 1 TB's = $0.62 of usable storage

    As for the rest of your backup strategy, that gets difficult given your requirements:

    Even with BR, you talking about 30 25GB ($10) discs worth of data or 15 50 GB ($35) discs worth of data. So my thinking is this. Have a series of different size media available "per job". Store each client's or project's photos on dual layer DVD's. I'd also use some type of additional backup by transferring the data electronically off site daily say to a home machine (assume home and office at separate location) via a USB key or something or , better yet, using a series of external HD's that you swap out daily / weekly as works for you. A colleague has two of them....labeled Even and Odd. Each Friday which has an odd date, he brings in ODD and backs up his NAS....Each Friday with an EVEN date...well you get the picture.

    Daily, I back my NAS to my laptop and it leaves with me each tome I leave the building. Monthly I do a DVD backup as all my non replaceable stuff which easily fits on a dual layer CD in compressed format.
  5. First of all...

    Thank you each so much for taking the time to post! These are pretty serious issues for me, and I really appreciate your input!


    Could I build an eSATA "attached storage device" that was RAID 5 using one of these (http://www.cfienclosure.com/4043PM.html) or something similar. Then, attach it to my machine and "share" it over the network?

    I thought that might be faster than having to move our data over the network all the time.

    I definitely like the idea for B&R to get two different drives and just make a weekly with them. That will at least preserve a weekly snapshot.

    Thanks so much,

  6. One really silly little thing.... please be careful how you store your DVDs, after sometime plastic sleeves can end up stuck to the disks.
  7. If I was going eSata, I'd do this:


    IIRC, you might expect and average of 375 MB/s out of e-sata and about 275 MB/s out of Gigabit ethernet.

    You are limited to a total cable length of 2 meters tho with eSata.

    If we assume the above is correct, then if you the only one using a computer on the network, the transfer speeds between you and it will be faster. Of course if anyone else is on the network and funnelling through your machine to get at the data, then you'll both take a performance hit.

    My Infrant box serves as a media server to my home (wife and 3 kiddies accessing) and a file server to my engineering home office (3-4 boxes active at any one time) and we have no speed issues. BTW, the NV+ works as an iTunes server. That has no meaning to me but the kids are hot about it.
  8. boonality said:
    the short life of a DVD? That perplexes me as I have DVD's that are years old and they look brand spankin new, granted you have to take care of them! But they should last you decades...

    It depends on brand. Some cheaper discs have been shown to deteriorate and become unreadable in just a few years. The top brands last hundreds because they user better materials. It also depends on how you store them (ideally away from heat, light, humidity). In the presence of heat, some cheap binder plastics can leak chemicals harmful to the discs. Also, the glue in homemade disc labels can destroy the discs over time.
  9. Thanks guys... You have been a huge help!

    Jack, I am probably going to end up going with a NAS over GB ethernet. That seems a whole lot more flexible than e-SATA at this point. That way, if I don't want the noise in my office, I can put it somewhere else...


  10. Jheiliger said:
    That way, if I don't want the noise in my office, I can put it somewhere else...

    Wish I could do that w/ my wife. :pt1cable:

    Well if you get the NV+, I can help ya set it up. I have volumes mapped as follows to office and home computers:

    Q:\CAD Drawings
    R:\Text Based Data
    S:\Graphics Based Data

    With the high numbers, no conflicts with other drive letters on the network.

    Here's some data:

    Hostname: NAS-1
    Model: Infrant ReadyNAS NV+
    Serial: xxxxxxxxx
    Firmware: RAIDiator™ v3.01c1-p6 [1.00a034] (not latest)
    Memory: 1024 MB [2.5-3-3-7]
    MAC Address: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    IP Address: xxx.xxx.x.140 (you want this fixed)
    Volume C: Online, 33% of 451 GB used
    X-RAID (Expandable RAID), 2 disks
    Don't enable DNS on NAS as your router prolly already doing
    Security Mode : User
    Create user groups for "Home" and "Office" users
    I selected CIFS, HTTP and HTTPS protocols
    Enable servers as appropriate:
    SlimServer, enables streaming of music to Squeezebox digital music players.
    iTunes Streaming Server, enables iTunes clients to stream media files from the NAS.
    UPnP AV, enables playback of videos, music and pictures from UPnP AV network media players
    Home Media Streaming Server, enables playback of videos, music and pictures from network DVD and media players.
    Bonjour service, allows Mac OS X and Windows clients running Bonjour to automatically detect services advertised by the NAS.
    UPnP, allows other UPnP-enabled devices on the network to automatically detect the NAS.

    Great article here:


    Greta support here:

  11. If all you need is storage and are not too worried about speed, just buy a RAID mobo with 4+ SATAII slots and toss in four 1TB drives on a RAID 0+1 setup. With a cheap cpu, ram, psu and such it shouldn't cost more than 1k.
  12. You might want to consider Drobo which is a data storage robot:

  13. Petimus said:
    If all you need is storage and are not too worried about speed, just buy a RAID mobo with 4+ SATAII slots and toss in four 1TB drives on a RAID 0+1 setup. With a cheap cpu, ram, psu and such it shouldn't cost more than 1k.

    Four 1 TB Drives at $240 - $305 each (new egg range) = $960 minimum...that leaves ya $40 to build a system

    If ya thinking this data is valuable, you will want a decent, reliable stuff which can maintain a cool environment. If ya have an old box this is a good idea...if your building new, how cheap do ya wanna go for the system which holds all your data?

    MoBo with good power regulation on board NIC and Video- $125
    Case w/ decent cooling & extra fans - $125
    PSU - $100
    CPU - $115
    Memory - $110
    MS OS - $140
    BackupSoftware - $75

    Total $790 .... or roughly the same price as a good NAS
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