Having a backup is extremely important when shooting digital only files. Unfortunately many forget to backup their photo libraries. Here is one way to never forget - simply make it part of your workflow.
How we do things: 85mm.ca Aperture Library Workflow Using Mac 10.6 Server
1. The Hard Drive - RAID 1 Mirrored
Using a Mac Mini Server setup as a Mirrored RAID 1 provides be benefit of having data copied simultaneously to two different hard drives. This allows for redundancy in case one drive should fail. Remember hard drive specifications are measured in Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF), measured in hours is the predicted elapsed time between inherent failures of a system during operation.
2. The Operating System - Snow Leopard 10.6 Server
Setup your Mac Server and Create a set of users who will have access to use it. Run your updates and setup the necessary monitoring applications and patches. Attached and setup your external hard drives and Time Machine Backup as soon as possible and before you put any data on your server. Note: You do not need to use Mac Sever, almost any version of Mac OS will work.
Use Mac OS Extended (journaled) whenever possible. You can also use an encrypted filing system to protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access or recovery.
3. Server Administrator and Share Points
Using 10.6 (or 10.7 or 10.8) Server requires that you setup a network share using AFP (Apple File Service) sharepoint. A sharepoint is a folder on a hard drive you would like to share with you network users.
A) Create a folder where you would like to store your Aperture Library. The fileshare is secured by a User Name and Password.
B) Secure your Sharepoint with strong user names and passwords.
Now you are ready to access your libraries from remotely attached workstations.
4. Accessing your Aperture Library Remotely
A) Connect to your server using the Finder or the menu bar Go > Connect to Server.
B) Enter the user name and password that has been granted access to the shared Aperture Library Folder.
c) If you have not yet created an Aperture Library to store you pictures, now is the time. If you already have an Aperture Library in the shared folder, double click it to open Aperture.
If you cannot save files to the Aperture Library, make sure the user has Read/Write access to the Sharepoint.
5. Creating a new Aperture Library on the network Share Point
Option + (Double) Click Aperture. Create New Library. Save the newly created library to the Sharepoint on the Server.
If you cannot save you Aperture Library to the Share Point, make sure the user has Read/Write access to the Sharepoint.
6. Using Aperture on the Network
Using an aperture Sharepoint over the network (wired or wireless) is the same as using an Aperture Library from the local hard drive. There is only a negligible difference in rendering speed.
7. Speeding up network access
Saving to a network Sharepoint is usually as fast as saving pictures to your local hard drive. If you have a wired network using a wired 100 Gigabit network connection, data will be transferred between your computer and the network at about 10 MB/Sec.
Over a wireless connection using the less congested 5GHZ band, data rates are roughly the same, up to 300 Megabits or 10-30 MB/sec. This is roughly the same speed as your locally hard drive.
Use a 1000 gigabit network connection if faster only if your server has a RAID or Solid State Drive that can deliver data at that speed.
The above noted speed is based on real world experience, not theoretical nonsense. Meaning in an office environment with 10-20 other wireless networks, lots of wireless phones (handsfree, iPhones, blackberries), televisions and microwaves.
Viewing a 36MP RAW file and waiting for it to fully render takes 4-8 seconds over 85mm.ca 5GHz network.
Viewing the same files locally using an SSD hard drive takes 2-5 seconds to render.
The difference between the load time can be attributed to two things.
A) 1-2 seconds are added because of server is using a fast 7200RPM drive, not a Solid State Drive
B) 1-2 seconds of network latency over the 5GHz network.
8. Additional Techniques - Time Machine, External Drives and DropBox
A common mistake users make is assuming DATA will never become corrupted. Corruption occurs when errors are written to the hard drive during reading and writing. The drive is physically fine, but your data is still unreadable.
Even with a mirrored RAID having multiple backups or a Time Machine backup is an important step in guarding against data loss.
Multiple external backups on a rotating basis helps guard against data corruption or physical damage to drives and backups.
Saving Aperture Libraries to dropbox is an easy way to ensure an offsite backup.
9. Backup Mistakes
Save your Aperture library periodically from an external RAID drive and Time Machine backup to another connected drive or server. There are two reasons for this.
1. If your server should fail, detach the drive and connect it to another server/computer - no downtime due to repairs.
2. If the Aperture Library is corrupted requiring many hours of repair or rebuilding, continue your work on a shadow drive.
But there are still mistakes that can happen and I will outline a few.
A. The library you are working on has become corrupted. A secondary backup can get you back up and running quickly.
B. Data was accidentally deleted and the library was backed up multiple times. Rotating that backup drive can help prevent data loss.
B. Time Machine isn't an ARCHIVE, but a short term backup. When Time Machine is full the oldest backup is deleted. Rotating that backup drive can help prevent data loss.
10. Final Thoughts
RAID said it best: Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. Compared to the loss of time and money, hard drives are cheap. When one external hard drive gets full buy a new one (usually bigger and cheaper). Put the old drive in a safe place: safety deposit box off site or into a firebox onsite.