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Old 2021-06-07, 16:51   #1
Bottom Quark
 
Dec 2010

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Default Good online photo and video storage options?

Ever since Google announced that they would be ending their free unlimited photo storage at the beginning of this month, I've been looking into alternatives.

I'm willing to pay for storage, but not for monthly or annual subscriptions. $50 for each X GB of "forever" storage is fine, but $50/year for "unlimited" storage is not. Here are the best alternatives I've found, feel free to post if you have better ones.

Shutterfly:
Pros: free photo storage
Cons: video storage is not free

Buying a Pixel 5:
Pros: continued unlimited photo and video storage
Cons: that phone will break down someday, and future pixels won't have the unlimited storage feature

Instagram:
Pros: free unlimited video and photo storage
Cons: the quality and size of your photos goes down, and you can't play long videos

Flickr:
Pros: free video and photo storage in high-resolution
Cons: only the first 1,000 images/videos are free

pCloud:
Pros: 2TB of lifetime storage for under $1,000
Cons: The company might go bust or be bought up by another company who doesn't honor the lifetime storage

Last fiddled with by Bottom Quark on 2021-06-07 at 17:23
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Old 2021-06-07, 17:13   #2
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bottom Quark View Post
I'm willing to pay for storage, but not for monthly or annual subscriptions. $50 for each X GB of "forever" storage is fine, but $50/year for "unlimited" storage is not.
Then you don't really care all that much about your data...

For those who /are/ serious... Drill down on Backblaze for "cloud backup".

Add to that real (a nod to kriesel for his always excellent documentation) large capacity backup USB drives which you rotate (in the temporal domain) through different geographically diverse locations (ideally in fireproof safes).

Edit: Oh... Sorry... You only care about your pictures and your videos. Please ignore my immediate above.

Last fiddled with by chalsall on 2021-06-07 at 17:14
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Old 2021-06-07, 17:48   #3
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Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Add to that real (a nod to kriesel for his always excellent documentation) large capacity backup USB drives which you rotate (in the temporal domain) through different geographically diverse locations (ideally in fireproof safes).
I stored some of my photos and videos on a few USB drives and put them in a friend's home. I checked them 6 years later and found that many of them were no longer functioning. Fortunately, I had cloud storage to rely on, but I do wonder what the MTBF is for USB drives.
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Old 2021-06-07, 17:56   #4
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Quote:
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I stored some of my photos and videos on a few USB drives and put them in a friend's home. I checked them 6 years later and found that many of them were no longer functioning.
Hey Bottom and bhelmes (who is always shadowing...).

MTBF == Mean Time Between Failure.

Google it. You might learn something.
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Old 2021-06-07, 18:09   #5
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Hey Bottom and bhelmes (who is always shadowing...).

MTBF == Mean Time Between Failure.

Google it. You might learn something.
The MTBF is usually given in erase/write cycles for USB drives. There's not a lot of data out there for "erase/write only a small number of times, then leave them unused in storage for X years."
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Old 2021-06-07, 18:18   #6
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The MTBF is usually given in erase/write cycles for USB drives. There's not a lot of data out there for "erase/write only a small number of times, then leave them unused in storage for X years."
Incorrect. MTBF is, by definition, based on time.

I use RAID-6 over RAID-5. All my mission-critical "off-line" (redundant) backups are powered up at least once every six weeks.

You come across a bit like a salesperson for "in the cloud" storage, but without really understanding the problem space.

Last fiddled with by chalsall on 2021-06-07 at 18:23
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Old 2021-06-07, 19:18   #7
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As system manager for a multiuser CAD system, I used to occasionally write an extra DAT backup tape and take it home with me. That put person-decades of work product supporting many millions of dollars of research equipment construction in multiple zip codes, for the price of a tape cassette (~$20), and my commute was not quite perpendicular to the usual tornado track, but enough of an angle and distance to be quite effective. That informal approach to offsite backup drew some objections eventually, and was replaced by inferior but official "offsite" backup of only 0.5 miles / 800 meters distance due North. Some tornado damage paths are wider than that, up to ~2.5 miles / 4 km. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_records
We rarely needed to use backups dating back more than a day or two.
As a convenience to the full time CAD specialists, we ran disk to disk differential backups multiple times daily (in the early 1990s) as well as daily incrementals and weekly full backups to tape. If they changed their mind or a file was corrupted by a software bug, we could get a previous version back on request and rather quickly, from multiples of 2 hour intervals in a workday, without touching a tape.

I recently went through some personal floppy disk backups made in the 1980s to early 1990s. (Hundreds of 5.25" 320KB, 1.44MB, even some 160KB.)
In limited testing before reformatting them to blank media, the media were still readable.
Reformatting, most of them had all sectors good. A relative few had 1 or 2 bad sectors; the worst was 16. These were stored in cardboard boxes for many years, a few feet above the elevation where a vacuum cleaner motor would operate occasionally.
Storing in a steel file cabinet would help diminish stray AC magnetic fields that might slowly erase data.

Decades ago I read about a major computing facility that had found a pattern of unusability of backup open reel tapes that were hung on the bottom row of wall racks. They investigated the problem, and determined that their janitorial staff was being diligent in keeping the floors well cared for, with a floor polisher that produced degaussing-level stray field from its powerful AC motor. One or two passes were not a problem. But repeated application many times over the years was a serious problem rendering the bottom row of tapes useless.

Before I retired from the university, we had a continuity of operations tabletop exercise. The exercise scenario was a fire in part of the building, a shop area, with spread and water damage to the server rooms. In a fire suppression scenario, one wonders if fireproof safes are also going to prevent the data tapes in the safes from getting soaked.

These scenarios can be very real. One of the people we hired had a story from working elsewhere, of investigating why some network equipment was operating slowly. A pipe had broken on an upper floor overnight, the flow went down an elevator shaft, and some network switches below were SUBMERGED and still running, sort of. In another case, by pure luck, I had relocated some equipment from the shop area that was part of that tabletop exercise, across the hall to another room. Two days later a water pipe broke in the adjacent utilities room and drenched the spot the equipment had previously occupied.

Last fiddled with by kriesel on 2021-06-07 at 19:35
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Old 2021-06-07, 19:47   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
Before I retired from the university, we had a continuity of operations tabletop exercise. The exercise scenario was a fire in part of the building, a shop area, with spread and water damage to the server rooms. In a fire suppression scenario, one wonders if fireproof safes are also going to prevent the data tapes in the safes from getting soaked.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Sincerely.

Very few think seriously about Disaster Recovery (DR). Those that do usually conflate it with High Availability (HA). Some /might/ have read about Business Continuity during their MBA programs...

P.S. We can talk about "bit rot" a bit later... Some around here are very serious about some of the early datasets...
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Old 2021-06-07, 22:19   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Some around here are very serious about some of the early datasets...
I think it was the 1980s when I converted my punch card format data and software stash from the 1970s to other media via minicomputer, tabletop card reader and dialup connection to download to a PC. In the absence of fire, water, and paper-eating-insects, though, that format is long-lived. Bulky though, a megabyte is heavy.
http://ibm-1401.info/CardStockSpecifications.html
IIRC, a TB in punch card form is about the same mass as an adult blue whale.
A box of 2000 cards is ~11 lb and holds at most 2000 x 12 x 80 /8/1024 = 234.4KiB as 12-bit-binary per column. So 1MB > 50 lb. 1 TB =1e12 bytes. 1E12 / 234.4/1024 * 11 =~45,800,000 lb ~22,900 English tons. Oops, no, the 8GB microSD in my phone holds about as much data as a whale's weight in punch cards; 8/1000 * 22900 ~ 183 tons of punch cards. 100 to 250TB in punch cards would have a mass about equal to the entire estimated current population of the blue whale species. https://animalsanswers.com/how-many-...-in-the-world/

Last fiddled with by kriesel on 2021-06-07 at 22:22
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Old 2021-06-08, 00:06   #10
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Quote:
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I think it was the 1980s when I converted my punch card format data and software stash from the 1970s to other media via minicomputer, tabletop card reader and dialup connection to download to a PC.
I think this is the most important step. That is, the process of periodically moving the data "forward" onto new media.

Even if the old media are considered "permanent", like punch cards might be, that doesn't mean the reading equipment and their interfaces will still be usable in later years.

Redundancy and availability are two separate dimensions that many people mistakenly like to conflate with longevity. All three aspects must be managed in their own ways.

IMO the idea of different physical media formats is not important as long as the geographical distancing is enough to cover whatever worst case scenarios one might have with regard to EMPs or other non-contact erasure possibilities.

Storing stuff in the "cloud" (someone else's computer) is really just an availability solution IMO. Don't expect any significant longevity, or redundancy. And just because you pay for a service won't magically make it more reliable.

One aspect that "cloud" storage can never give is security. Your data is accessible by other parties. People you don't know could be doing any number of things with your data and you might never find out until it is too late. So I recommend to encrypt it. Just give them the blob of random looking encrypted data to reduce the chance of unexpected outcomes. And if it gets deleted, or sold to another company, or exposed in a hack, or whatever, then you can simply ignore it and not worry.
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Old 2021-06-08, 02:11   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
I think this is the most important step. That is, the process of periodically moving the data "forward" onto new media.

Even if the old media are considered "permanent", like punch cards might be, that doesn't mean the reading equipment and their interfaces will still be usable in later years.
...
IMO the idea of different physical media formats is not important as long as the geographical distancing is enough to cover whatever worst case scenarios one might have with regard to EMPs or other non-contact erasure possibilities.

Storing stuff in the "cloud" (someone else's computer) is really just an availability solution IMO. Don't expect any significant longevity, or redundancy. And just because you pay for a service won't magically make it more reliable.

One aspect that "cloud" storage can never give is security. Your data is accessible by other parties. People you don't know could be doing any number of things with your data and you might never find out until it is too late. So I recommend to encrypt it. Just give them the blob of random looking encrypted data to reduce the chance of unexpected outcomes. And if it gets deleted, or sold to another company, or exposed in a hack, or whatever, then you can simply ignore it and not worry.
Yes. I was hired for a small project years ago, to read and convert someone's DAT backups that they no longer had the means to read. Drive, OS, and perhaps backup utility availability may all be an issue. It's particularly a problem in university environments; research grants end, RAs and grad students move on, data sits in storage and grows old on obsolete media. Then someone wants to use the data for something new and it's stranded. I was quite aware when feeding the card decks box by box into the reader, that the window for doing so was likely to close soon.

"In the cloud" has its uses, but it is brittle. Imagine someone's working business records stored that way. A competitor could get the client list by hacking. Or the Russian mob could extort over its deletion or publication. A tornado takes the trees and buildings and campers, and consequently above-ground power lines and fiber, miles away, and your data becomes inaccessible until the lines are reinstalled. (That or a dump truck tearing the feed off the building shut my former employer down on occasion. A few people were able to work for hours while we ran our UPSes empty. The phone system had 4-hour power backup, but the university's network engineering had not provided UPS for the data network uplink from the remote campus the several miles to main campus.) Or the road crew hits the fiber junction box with a tractor-towed mower and the neighborhood's fiber internet is down for hours or days, or before that the fiber install crew punctures the telco 100pair cable severing ~1/3 of the pairs, and the telco field technician is booked solid for a week plus, so no DSL for several days. Or the part of the cloud you're dependent on is located in Texas and its power gets cut to keep people alive during a bad winter storm. Or your cloud provider goes bankrupt, or was engaging in fraud or suspected of some criminal activity and their equipment containing your data gets seized and held for lengthy forensic analysis.

In the case of wide area effect of EMP, from either tailored nukes or coronal mass ejection, we have more immediate and vital issues than getting back our photos and videos. Adequate drinking water, food and medication supply and preservation, and temperature regulation of shelter, and the means to keep them are essential; without water intake, after 3 days people become ineffective, and death follows by ~a week.
Survival without necessities are roughly, air minutes, exposure hours, water days, food weeks as a rough rule of thumb. (Self defense, possibly seconds.) Read "One Second After", and consider how inexpensive some emergency prep on a personal level can be, compared to being unprepared, for even short term service outages. EMP is a risk for a length of outage that may shock some people and produce major disruption in supply and civil order. Worse than CHOP or other 2020 unrest, or the Colonial Pipeline outage. Gas heat doesn't work if there's no electricity to deliver the gas or run the furnace. Refrigeration is needed for vaccines and insulin etc. Wells don't work without 240VAC power for the pump. Well water could provide limited refrigeration. (That's how milk in 10 gallon cans used to be cooled on farms.)

I have other media types, to retire also, as backup formats, and some question as to whether the drives will still work. A concern with various drive types from audio cassette, floppy, QIC80, Travan, to DAT, etc, is aging or breakage of rubber drive components. Offline secondary backup disks in their metal casings, stored in a closed metal file cabinet, ought get through an EMP ok. Maybe a laptop should join them there to read them with after. I wonder how solar panels fare in EMP events. Here's a take on that.

Last fiddled with by kriesel on 2021-06-08 at 02:39
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