Data-Intensive Tasks Demand Storage Plan

For reasons of disk capacity, we need some kind of removable-media plan.

Summertime, and summer memories, make offline storage management more personal—and more vital—than ever before. That digital camera, if not paired with a removable-media recorder, is the first step toward a disk crash that wipes out data wed hate to lose.

For reasons of disk capacity, as well as storage safety, we need some kind of removable-media plan: not just a technology choice (CD-R? DVD-R? Im sticking with the former until at least next year), but also a discipline for using it on both a personal and an enterprise scale.

Since late 1997, all my photography has been digital, and the resulting volume of irreplaceable data has demanded a strict procedure. When I download photos to a PC, I update a CD-RW disk that I maintain for that machine, adding the new photos to its accumulating store. I then use a photo browser, such as Jasc Softwares Paint Shop Pro or Sonys PictureGear, to check the new files on that CD. If those are OK, the files on the hard disk must also be good. Only then do I erase the cameras storage medium (Memory Stick, SmartMedia or CompactFlash, as the case may be) for reuse.

When the CD-RW is full, I burn two identical CD-R disks with the pending files on the hard disk. I then check the photos on both of the newly recorded disks. Be careful: Some browsers maintain a cache and wont actually re-fetch the files from what looks like the same CD unless you perform a manual cache flush.

Only then do I erase the photo files from the hard disk or move them to an Archived Photos directory (which I can erase at any time), depending on whether that machine has space to spare. I defrag the hard disk, erase the CD-RW, and Im ready to start a new accumulation.

Other files that wont (and shouldnt) change, such as the spreadsheets for my tax returns each spring, also go on the next pair of CD-R disks that I prepare for that machine; I maintain e-mail archives for each PC in the same way as photos. Its a system that works for me.

Many readers ask me why PCs have grown disk capacity so far beyond their backup facilities. Im still waiting for a PC operating system with hierarchical storage that moves files to removable media, on a schedule, while maintaining pointers for ease of retrieval. Any contenders?

Tell me about your data recording plan at