Archiving Digital: An Update
Yes, two posts in the same day. Not common here at the old ranch, but the number of emails I received, and IM’s and the like were enough to prompt me to add some updates.
1. I overestimated my data archive. I thought it was 50 TB, but it’s actually a little more than 40TB. But here is the thing. I’m not a heavy shooter, so I have a sinking suspicion that many others out there have FAR larger reserves than I. My archive contains the RAW files, subset folders of JPGs in varying size. In some cases TIFF or DNG, but not always. 14 sets of 2TB, Firmtek, two internal drives when combined add up to 30 TB. Six more of portables and this does not include my entire supply of 4x DVD’s. Or my film scans, not that those are essential to have in digital form, only convenient. I’m guessing the grand take is little over 40TB.
2. These were JOBS. These images are not things I feel good about throwing away. Now, anyone who, like me, came up in the film era, shudders when we hear “Throw away,” but let me tell you it is commonplace in the digital age. I know because people have been emailing me and telling me. When I first did my research back in 2002 timeframe I spoke to many different photographers who had already come to grips with losing their archive. Many seemed totally okay with it because they knew they didn’t have it in them to migrate with time and technology, something I’m REALLY feeling today. Now, the worst offenders were wire service shooters who were shooting jobs, erasing cards in the field and starting anew, ONLY saving the one or two images they transmitted. I get it. It sucks but it’s true. Each genre offers different challenges.
3. There ARE people with a plan and with savvy. I don’t know this person personally, but they were kind enough to message me with all kinds of pertinent information, and the’ve been on plan for many years. You are a RARITY my online friend at least in my experience. RW Boyer Design/Photo.
4. I don’t have it in me to migrate with time and technology, which means I’m coming to grips with losing everything that remains on portable media. Not the drive based work, but the rest of it will probably not survive. I can’t even fathom sitting down, or paying someone else, to sit down and load up my DVD’s, one at a time, and transfer that data. Talk about time and money. Only to have to migrate another 4 years later. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this, heck I encourage you to, but knowing what I have gone on, and the limited time I have to get to it…never gonna happen.
5. This is my problem whether or not I ever shoot another frame of digital ever again. This 40TB ain’t going away. I’m sure my mega-drive is around the corner, and maybe I want till it’s here before I make a move. All 40TB on three redundant drives, then wait four years and do it again. THAT I can probably handle. Probably.
6. Unfortunately I do know people in motion, and in Hollywood, and I have heard THEIR horror stories too. Just so you know, I recently attended an awards show for motion and stills. One of the winning filmmakers got up in front of the crowd and said “Thank you for the award, but just do you know, my first and second films are gone.” “Entirely gone.” Her latest film, the award winner, had been archived by one of the major archiving houses here in the US. Also spoke to one of the archive and color houses in Los Angeles. Their guy said “There is no budget for archiving so we are throwing films away.” Not all obviously but more than you would imagine.
I know that regardless of what I say here little will change. As long as you can go to a box warehouse and buy a cheap, portable drive people will just say “What are you gonna do?” I get it. I for one am not happy with that. I love film for a bevy of reasons, but I know it’s not for most. Also, the comments section of my original post has some good information as well. Thanks to those of you who took time to write in. Much appreciated.