swang's photos More of swang's photos


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Poor Man's Cloud Backup

So it's been bugging me a while (ahem, close to 6 years since Ms 5 was born) that I really should make the effort and do an offsite backup of all my photos, especially since most of them are of my 2 girls and memories associated with them growing up.

Granted I was quite vigilant and burnt 2 backup copies of all photos onto DVD, with the intent of giving one set of backups to my folks and the other to the inlaws so that I'm covered from an offsite backup perspective. Yes, I did say *intent* and as you might have guessed they are sitting here on my desk as I type this...

Okay, at least I have backups on physical media, then when I got my MacBook Pro a few years ago, photos were downloaded from the camera to iPhoto and I've got a large Time Machine drive sitting here happily backing up everything on my Mac so I thought I was covered.

Then I got a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, the Netgear ReadyNas Duo which I keep a copy of all the photos (correction, most of the photos as I've been slack and haven't backed up photos taken since end of 2008) and have another copy so I'm covered right?

Then it struck me that if someone broke into my house, took my MacBook Pro, Time Machine drive, NAS and the randomly scattered DVD backups of my photos I'd be pretty upset from losing all of my photos of the girls since they were born (apart from the 1000's of Ms5 that are on Flickr and considerably less of Ms1 on Flickr, and they are not full resolution ones at that). Also a fire at home would wipe it all out, so I've been meaning to have a look at a paid online cloud storage solution like Amazon S3 etc.

Anyways, Amazon just released about a month ago Amazon Cloud Drive which gives anyone who has an Amazon account, 5Gb of free storage in the cloud. This is similar to Microsoft's SkyDrive or Apple's iDisk. Granted this is targeted towards music files where you can upload your music and play it anywhere using the Amazon Cloud Player, but I thought it's just 5Gb free storage so why not?

Had a play a month ago when it came up and didn't think much of it until today when I decided it was finally time to tackle my offsite photo backup task on my neverending to-do list, when I remembered Amazon Cloud Drive and had a sneaky thought (well, more like cheap frugal Asian thought), going through my requirements:

  • Mainly for archiving photos for disaster recovery

  • Reliable i.e. not some hack like Gmail Drive

  • Free! :)

So I thought since my older backups were on DVD which holds about 4.7Gb, each DVD could be uploaded to a discrete Amazon Cloud Drive. Granted this would mean that I would need to create a different account for each DVD backup that I have, but for most people who are not professional photographers, that might not be too much of a stretch or hassle to setup for the asking price... Free! Okay, so it's not entirely free, it'll cost you time and bandwidth, but once you have the workflow setup, it should be not much of a hassle to do.

Found an application which is an absolute timesaver when uploading files to Amazon Cloud Drive. It is called Gladinet Cloud Desktop and it basically allows you to map a drive to your Amazon Cloud Drive. Currently the only way to upload files to Amazon Cloud Drive is using the web interface to upload files which is quite clunky and does not allow you to upload nested folders, subfolders and files so that'll be a real pain to preserve the folder structure you currently have for your backups. There is the Amazon MP3 Uploader but that only does music files.

Bonus with using Gladinet Cloud Desktop is that you can connect to multiple Amazon Cloud Drives, and they all appear as sub folders under the mapped drive in Windows Explorer... :) This will make the initial pain of uploading all those photos a bit easier with some drag and drop action, and also make recovering those photos a whole lot less painful. I'm using the free starter edition which is limited to 1000 files in a task (a task is one copy operation), but there is no limit to how many tasks you are kick off concurrently so just split large folders into many tasks.

Gladinet Cloud Desktop also supports other cloud based services like Amazon S3 (of course), Google Docs, Google Picasa, Windows Azure Blob Storage, Windows Live SkyDrive just to name a few... And the fact that it maps these services to a drive in Windows Explorer means that there is potential for lots of solutions for simple integration of backup solutions, both programatically or as part of whatever manual workflow you use everyday.

Only down side is that my ADSL2+ speeds are quite slow for uploads and this process might take a while, although this would be the same case if I used a paid service like Amazon S3, however this is free and as reliable (I would hope) as it is stored within Amazon S3 servers...

I guess bottom line is that this can be adapted to whatever uses anyone would need for cloud storage or backup, not quite as elegant as an established solution like DropBox, but workable and a frugal solution. Also there is the Pro version of Gladinet which offers much more flexibility and functionality, which might make it a more robust solution.

Also there is no need to use Gladinet Cloud Desktop once you have it up on Amazon Cloud Drive, you can just download it file by file from the browser, so if you need a photo, bonus is that you can grab it from anywhere (granted you know which Cloud Drive it's on, and also your folder structure makes sense...). But for mass recovery purposes, I'd recommend it... :)

Okay, so it's more like Cheap Man's Cloud Backup but at least once I do the initial backups, and then remember to do the same each time I backup to DVD, my precious memories will hopefully be safe in the cloud... :)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm living in the 'future'...

Okay, just had another accomplishment today, where I actually *finished* a book I started...

FYI, it was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

This is quite huge as due to work and family commitments, I usually struggle to finish anything that I start as a personal (just me) endeavour for the past 6 years since Ms5 came along. Also completed Portal2 *and Portal (original) a few weeks back which might have sparked off this whole new 'Finish what I start' mantra (2 in a row counts as life changing right? :P)

Anyways, won't make this a book review or a book club thing, but just sharing the reading experience on a non-dead tree book (last non-technical book read for pleasure would have been > 6 years ago)...

I read the Kindle version on my iPad rather than borrow my wifey's new Kindle 3 (Mother's Day present), and it was surprisingly quite readable. It was only until about 1/3 of the way through when it hit me that I'm living in the 'future'...

Let me explain... the author made reference to piano lessons her daughters were doing and mentioned a piece by Dvorak which was Humoresque No. 7 and said that it would be familiar to most people (I learnt piano for almost 8 years of my childhood, and had no idea), and went to describe how the first theme was a catchy opening theme and that the second theme changed to an overly sentimental theme, and how the piano teacher was trying to explain to her daughter how to emotionally connect with the piece when playing it...

Even though the author described it well, I found myself scratching my head and trying to work out what she was going on about, until it dawned on me that I can actually look it up and hear it for myself, right from the iPad! A quick Google search found this on YouTube and just like that, I got what she was going on about...

Yup, I'm living in the 'future'...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's the best way of reading and there is no arguing with most purist readers about the feel and refresh rate of a dead-tree book (Kindle comparisons aside), but being to look up and experience certain things I came across whilst reading an eBook, and the convenience of doing so definitely enhanced my reading experience...

Oh, and the book was pretty good, definitely recommended, but YMMV as to fully enjoy it you may need some pre-requsite life experiences (e.g. being brought up in an Asian family/ethos or have close friends that have)... :)

Labels: , , , ,