Using RAID as a Backup for your Photos

As a professional photographer, you may need a storage medium capable of storing gigabytes of data if you think about a backup medium. Sometimes, this gigabytes limit may further expand to terabytes based on your years of experience in this field. This would be the actual reason for a photographer’s interest in RAID arrays to save the backup of their photos.

Anyhow, there are some fundamental misconceptions about RAID arrays for the people who have chosen RAID as the backup medium for their photos. First, as many of you still thinking, RAID isn’t a backup medium. The acronym RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks” or “Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks”. It’s actually a storage virtualization technology that combines multiple physical disks together as a single logical unit to ensure data redundancy.

And as you think, the individual disks used here are inexpensive as well. Before checking RAIDs features as a photo storage medium, let’s go through different RAID levels/configurations.

RAID 0: In this RAID configuration, data stripping is actually taking place where a file is split up at and the divided part of the file will be saved into more than one physical drive so as to result in improved write and read speeds. At the same time, there is no parity check in RAID 0. So if any one of the physical drives fails, all the data would be lost.

RAID 1: Disk Mirroring is the core base of RAID 1 disks. It actually replicates the data in one disk into more than two disks, resulting in increased availability of data. Read operations in RAID 1 are faster because of the possibility of simultaneous read from more than one disk. At the same time, write operations are slower due to the strain of writing into more than one disk at the same time.

RAID 5:  Simply we can call RAID 5 as the advancement over RAID 0. Here the disks are stripped but with parity check. So, if a disk failure occurs, users can reconstruct data in each drive. And, it requires at least three disks to implement a RAID 5 array.

Why isn't RAID recommended generally as a photo backup medium?

No matter which RAID array you prefer, you may face some issues if it uses as a photo backup medium. Virus attack, file corruption, accidental deletion of files, etc. are some of them. Let’s take a case for example.

Suppose you have accidentally deleted a photo folder from your RAID 1 array. For your surprise, it’ll get deleted from both of your mirrored copies. And, if a photo gets corrupted in one disk, it’ll affect to its copy in the second disk as well.

A backup should be complete as well as recoverable. Hardly none of the RAID systems serve this purpose. Redundancy is the ability to provide a continual service irrespective of all the troubles and crashes. In terms of data, this redundancy is more connected with accessibility rather than creating multiple copies. Conversely, backups are additional reserves of data created to prepare against catastrophic data loss. In a photographers point of view, creating such backups could be the right choice all the time.

As long as you can’t afford costly data backup solutions for photos, it’s good to use external hard disks. You can find cheap external drives in the market with comparatively larger capacities. Unlike RAID arrays, data recovery from external hard disk isn’t a tough task at all, whether it’s an accidental deletion or hard disk crash. It’s all depend upon your budget that the backup medium is ideal for your photos. If you’re ready to pay a fair amount, you can go with costly cloud solutions. Otherwise, cheap solutions like portable hard drives are ideal for you.

Using RAID as a Backup for your Photos was last modified: December 12th, 2016 by John Harris

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