So Seattle weather went from 50 degrees to 85 degrees overnight Friday and we all went from shivering to sweating! It's too hot to be sitting outside so we're both sitting inside getting a little work done. Well, I should really say 'work' as neither of us are actually doing anything productive for the business. Both of us are feverishly scanning.

We've got the Memorial for Kimberly's Dad (see here) coming up next weekend in Chicago so Kimberly's putting together a slide-show of his life. This involves scanning a bunch of very old photos, negatives, and slides and then laboriously touching them up to remove all the evidence of the ravages of time – dust, scratches, discoloration from old paper and mounts when acid-free wasn't the norm. After scanning she's using software called Adobe Elements which can do *incredible* things to restore images.

Many people say that if your house burns down, the only *really* irreplacable things are photos – everything else is just stuff. A few months ago I started to realize that between the two of us, we have an awful lot of film photos – for instance, Kimberly has literally more than 10000 slides from dive trips over the last 10 years – if something were to happen, that's a lot of memories to lose in one go (we estimate we've got 30000 film frames between us).

So – I bought a combo slide/negative scanner. I did lots of research before deciding on the Nikon Super CoolScan 5000ED – a little pricey but the reviews seem to justify the price. I've mostly scanned old (20-50 years) slides and negatives so far and the software the Nikon has to automatically put color back and remove all the imperfections is again just *incredible* with the results it gets. Now that I know the scanner is really top-notch, I've picked up the SF-210 Slide Feeder so I can load 50 of Kimberly's slides at one time and walk away for a few hours. Still – I'm looking at months and months of having the scanner buzzing away next to me while I work.

What's the point of this blog post then? Well, it's a little rambling but after Kimberly's recent corruption nightmares (see here) I started thinking a lot about making sure we had backups of everything we think is important. I realized that not all the data we want to preserve is already in digital format – which makes it impossible to just backup (there's no way to just make a quick copy of negatives). I'm sure a lot of you out there reading this are just like us – you've got a bunch of pre-digital photos that are slowly degrading and need to be scanned to be preserved – and may already be embarked on a months-long or years-long effort to scan them all.

Apart from the realization that I need to convert all this stuff to digital data to allow backing it up, the question then becomes – how can I be sure that I *really* have a backup of it all in the event of a disaster? Here are the options:

  1. Multiple copies of the data on different hard-drives
  2. Copies of the data on DVDs/USB-drives in a fire-safe
  3. Copies of the data on DVDs/drives in someone else's house
  4. Copies of the data on DVDs/drives in a safe-deposit box
  5. Copies of the data in the 'cloud' somewhere

If I'm really paranoid I'd probably do all of #1 through #4 – and given our experiences over the last few months, I'm sure that's what I'll end up doing!

But should I go with DVDs or hard-drives? Kimberly and I both have 1TB external Maxtor hard-drives that either have failed or show signs of failing (there's a class action lawsuit against Maxtor as I type). We both have multiple 250GB Western Digital USB drives that we travel with – 9 in total when we're together! However hard-drives aren't infallible at all – as Kimberly's in-flight corruption experience (for which I was unjustly blamed :-)) showed us. So what about DVDs? At 9GB each maximum, and with me scanning at 17.8MB per frame for say, 30000 frames, that would be 58 DVDs (to store a total of 521GB of data). Wow! And that's not even including the digital photos we have – Kimberly just reminded me that she took 6000 alone on our drive trip to Indonesia over Christmas 2006.

So it quickly gets a little overwhelming to think about and plan for. However, without any planning and forethought, if a disaster were to happen, we'd lose all our photos.

Same goes for business data in a database – without any planning, without any backups, you lose the lot in the event of a disaster.


PS Kimberly just posted a little follow-up (see here) with a FANTASTIC image of her Grandfather sitting on the P-51 that he flew while a fighter-pilot during World-War II.