How do you store digital photographic image files is a question photographers send to me in various forms; wanting to know how, and what products to consider. Security that the data stored will be safe from loss or damage is a prime issue, you can’t replace an image file if it is the only one and is lost. File storage has been a computer user issue from the earliest days of personal computing, and for most of the time since then it has been up to the user to provide a solution. There are many choices from hard drives installed in computers to external HD’s connected to a computer; and including mirrored duplicate drive in what is called a RAID system. Then there is the possible choice of disc drives now standardized on CD and DVD, with the recent addition of the Millenniata DVD discs using a proprietary long lasting disc material and requiring a special LGE writing drive.
In recent times a technology that provides the sharing of commercially owned storage farms called “cloud storage” has been opened to individual computer users either directly or through a photo service company or organization. For the individual user there is an unusually complete and accurate information resource to get an understanding of the “cloud storage” technology on Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage) I would be confident the experts in the field have applied thorough editing to this Wikipedia document to see it is as complete and as objective as possible. And it does cover the subject of data and individual security, indicating that these “cloud storage” services are privately or corporately owned, and the companies could become bankrupt, go out of business or suffer physical disruption and even destruction of facilities by both natural and other disorders could make access via the internet as well as their power supply no longer viable.
That their are security issues is in the news frequently when one or another vendor reports the loss of the personal account and password data of large numbers of ordinary customers. But like any disaster occurs affecting many people it is not news that sinks in, people do not relate to what they now call “big data”, its not personal. But just a few days ago a journalist who writes for Wired magazine had his cloud accounts hacked into and he lost the use of his MacBook, iPad and iPhone as well as all of the data stored on his work tools - he was not backed up on a hard disk of his own. (http://sfist.com/2012/08/09/listen_in_horror_as_mat_honan_recou.php) This news went viral all over the global village, and at least two major technology companies have since hardened their username/password security as a result.
I cannot claim being clairvoyant about image fie storage security. I adopted an old system using gold/gold CD discs I began using almost 20 year ago, the only affordable system then available. It was a lucky choice as all the image files I have produced over the years are still available to me, I have not lost one file, and no hacker can get even near my CD stored files. I just follow an old saying, “if you want it done right do it yourself”. It is not that I distrust Apple, Amazon or any of the other large corporations that have computer hard drive farms located now all over the world, but many of these companies except Apple did not even exist when I started doing digital photographic images, and many of the familiar companies then are now gone, or on a downward track to who knows where like Kodak. Fortunately, unlike it was back in the 90’s good quality secure storage hardware is available to individuals now at very affordable costs. The only thing you might miss by letting the clouds overhead drift by is convenience, the cloud is not free, you rent space one way or another.