Break Tested

ProPhoto - - FIRST FRAME - Paul Bur­rows, Edi­tor

I’ve been us­ing lap­tops pretty much since they be­came avail­able. I need the porta­bil­ity, while the small foot­print on the desk­top – the real one, that is – is a bonus when it’s also clut­tered up with cam­eras or lenses or what­ever is go­ing through test­ing at the time. For a least a decade or so back there, the pace of devel­op­ment was fre­netic so there was al­ways jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for up­grad­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, usu­ally ev­ery two years. Then things slowed down – along with dra­matic price re­duc­tions which usu­ally saw you get­ting twice as much new lap­top for what you’d paid pre­vi­ously – so there was less need to change. Con­se­quently, my cur­rent lap­top was head­ing to­wards its fifth birth­day and I was just start­ing to think it might be time to re­place it… when it took mat­ters into its own hands. Af­ter a week­end away, I went to start it up… and noth­ing hap­pened. Panic sta­tions. Af­ter jab­bing the power but­ton a dozen or so times, the re­al­ity dawns that… some­thing… is… not... right.

Now, of course, I back up stuff. I do it man­u­ally and I reckon I’m pretty dis­ci­plined about sav­ing copies of files to the ex­ter­nal archiver drive… but with one lit­tle blindspot. For a rea­son not even best known to my­self, I don’t ar­chive un­til a file is fin­ished with… in other words, an ar­ti­cle is fully com­pleted or the edit­ing of an im­age is all done. That means there could be quite a bit of work-in-progress float­ing around when your five-year-old lap­top de­cides to call it a day. Quite a bit.

Although I live in small town, we’re for­tu­nate enough to have an ex­cel­lent lo­cal com­puter shop so it was into the am­bu­lance with the un­re­spon­sive lap­top which was hur­riedly rushed into surgery. Af­ter an anx­ious wait, ex­am­in­ing the racks of ca­bles, con­nec­tors and card read­ers (what part of the word “stan­dard­i­s­a­tion” don’t we un­der­stand?), there was, in­evitably, Good News and Bad News. The bad news was that my lap­top was, in­deed, cac­tus (a tech­ni­cal term mean­ing ka­put), but the good news was that its hard drive was hale and hearty. In fact, here it is now in its own lit­tle hard cas­ing with a USB con­nec­tion so you can plug it into some­thing else. Wow! Re­ally? Yes, replies the com­puter tech­ni­cian, but I think we need to have a lit­tle chat. Uh oh. So, she says, it was re­ally rather full (ah yes, well that’d be all those Phase One XF 100 MP test files I down­loaded last Fri­day) and what have you been do­ing about mak­ing back-ups be­cause there re­ally shouldn’t be so much data sit­ting on your com­puter?

Now we all know about this, don’t we? That we re­ally should only use a work­sta­tion – be it desk­top or lap­top – for ac­tual work, and then ev­ery­thing else should be hived off to mul­ti­ple back-ups. And that HDDs do have a fi­nite life­span – work on it be­ing five years max – and so ev­ery­thing should be trans­ferred on at, to be safe, four-yearly in­ter­vals. But how easy it is to let things slip. Back in my of­fice, I re­alised that all my back-up drives were well past their use-by dates. All of them… and there’s a few too. And be­cause we’re now deal­ing with just so much data – thanks to ul­tra-high res cam­eras and, for some, 4K video – a three ter­abyte drive is pretty much base spec.

The bot­tom line here – ahem – is that a back-up sys­tem that pro­vides ef­fec­tive pro­tec­tion against all the likely risks costs money. But it has to be done and it has to be done prop­erly, not piece­meal, no mat­ter how much we think we know what we’re do­ing. Some of you may have cho­sen to ‘out­source’ these oper­a­tions (although this isn’t en­tirely risk­free ei­ther), but it can be done ef­fec­tively in-house pro­vided you’re pre­pared to in­vest not only money, but time and ef­fort. As some­body who came from the film era, hav­ing some­thing phys­i­cal to look at – such as a NAS (Net­work At­tached Stor­age) drive, which is the route I’m now tak­ing – is re-as­sur­ing even if it is il­log­i­cal.

But at­ti­tudes are a big part of this… most par­tic­u­larly the idea which seems to be hard-wired into the hu­man psy­che and can be summed up as, “it won’t hap­pen to me”. Of course, we need to think this way in or­der to get out of bed each morn­ing and, in the area of dig­i­tal imag­ing, we’re even more con­vinced it won’t hap­pen be­cause it so rarely does. How­ever, if this is be­cause, like my lap­tops, we’ve been re­new­ing at roughly two-year in­ter­vals, things could change now that we’re hang­ing onto hard­ware for much longer.

My com­puter tech­ni­cian’s ad­vice about the po­ten­tial of some­thing break­ing is very sim­ple, “Don’t think ‘if’, think ‘when’.”

Like me, you’ve been warned.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.