The last few months has been quite a growth spurt in the new New York office. Relocating here was a big jump, but even more so setting up a proper digital asset management system. Its a work in progress at this point. I got a big kick in the ass this weekend, when I found out my good friend Fred Egan had his house burn to the ground. Luckily his office was left in tact and he was able to recover his photography equipment and images, but I think it's a good in my face warning that it could happen to anyone, including me at any time.
I've hired Jeff Holt, to come in and help me build, set up an IT infrastructure, and implement a back up system both on site and off site. The above sketch is a general outline of what we have in progress of set up and it's still evolving. It's very intricate. Designing an IT infrastructure is very custom to what you have an how much you have to spend, but after this great awakening with Fred, it's pushing me even more to get things in order, especially an off-site backup.
The main idea is to have a mirrored backup that is onsite and that are equal sizes, then to have the same data mirrored off site somewhere. Hard drives go bad completely at random, so a constant mirroring of data on-site is a necessity. In talking with an Apple IT consultant friend of mine, he swears by tape drive backups because they last at least 30 years. Backing up on to secondary hard drives is great if you have a method of spinning them up once a year to keep the liquid bearings from drying up. If you let them go 3-5 years, they dry and the HD is toast. They're meant to stay in use.
The trick is to build a system that is expandable and accessible. Obviously if you're serious about being a photographer, the more you shoot, the more your digital assets are going to grow. Now a days with the digital sensors getting larger and larger the RAW images take up quite a bit of space. I am also constantly needing to access images for portfolio uses, projects, books, website, blog posts etc. so having a system where you can easily access everything easily takes quite a bit of design.
The system I have set up is 2 x 8 bay enclosures in a J-Bod(individual drives) setup with 1TB drives in each bay totaling 16TB. Each bay from one enclosure is mirrored to the parallel bay in the second enclosure for the redundant onsite data. These are the archive drives where jobs are dropped once they are finished and archived. We have a 2 bay enclosure with a RAID 0 that acts as a production drive for jobs that are in progress. The archived jobs will then be backed up onto tape and sent offsite. This system is hovering $10K.
Creating a system that is customized to fit your needs and budget can be pretty tricky and techie. Jeff has set up a few consulting packages to design the right system for you if you need it. His packages go from over the phone consulting to in-house setup. For more info send him an email: Jeff Holt
Another part of backing up is HAVING insurance. Unfortunately for our friend Fred, he had no insurance which resulted in a total loss. Irresponsible? Maybe so, but shit happens. I know I go through life thinking these things will probably never happen to me, and knock on wood they don't, but this is a sure realization that they can happen to anyone any time. I know what it's like to be strapped for cash and not finding the funds to pay for insurance premiums, but this is definitely a hard reminder. Our friend Jory Cordy has set up a donation page if you feel so inclined to help Fred out as he lost his living possessions.
In regards to insurance, one thing to be careful of is that a lot of renters/home owners insurances won't cover your gear if it's for business use and it values over a certain amount. It's good to have separate policies. I have a basic renters policy with Liberty Mutual, and a Business policy with The Hartford Agency. http://www.thehartford.com Business insurance gives you liability coverage and and inland marine coverage on your gear world wide. The premium for the business insurance varies on where you live and how much gear value you want covered. It IS essential!