Posted by: sbarrett | 2008.01.08

Data Integrity Part I

I wanted to put up a post on how I make sure that our digital photos do not get lost.  As I was looking through all the stuff we have on our computer, I found that the pictures are the biggest pile of files – over 40GB, then comes music  with over 20GB.  Man that is over half the hard drive in media files.  Now, none of these files are anything earth shattering, but they do document the lives of our two daughters.  I would hate to lose those.  I thought about the life cycle of digital images vs prints, and there are trade offs to either format.  Prints, in  most cases are not backed up.  All we have is that piece of paper and the negative.  If something happens to the house, there they go – fire, flood, sump pump overflow, tornado – etc.  all would take the pictures away.  Digital, on the other hand, yeah a virus, or a power spike or a drive failure would take the images too, however it is easy to make a 2nd, 3rd or more copies to store away for just such emergencies.  The following paragraphs describe how I manage to get multiple copies to keep me safe.

For starters, I have an organized image library.  In my My Pictures folder, I have a folder called Image Library.  In that I have folders for each years images – 2003 Pictures, 2004 Pictures, etc.  Within each years folder, I save the image by day shot with a description, like – 2007-12-25 – Christmas Morning.  This way it is easy to get to the day of a certain event.  Within those daily folders, the files are saved in a similar fashion , 2007-12-25-nnnn, where nnnn is a indexed 4 digit serial number for that day.  This entire structure happens automatically by using a program called cam2pc, by a company called Nabocorp.  Although the author is pretty much vanished and the support is gone, I have yet been able to find a program to take care of the downloading, organizing and renaming as good as this.  The program is quick, has a good interface (although dated now) and is not encumbered by having lots of features that you really don’t use.  All I have to do is plug in my memory card and the download window pops up and asks what is the description for each day that is saved on the card.  There is a window that shows thumbnails of each picture for that day as reference.  I also have the program set the write protect bit for these files as it downloads too, just for safety.  When you are thru naming the folders for the files saved on the card, the program takes over and does the copying, renaming, structuring and write protecting.  Wham!  All organized.

The one thing I wished this program did better is to add key words to files.  Yes, you can add them in the IPtC data areas, but there is no database of the tags.  I know me, and I know that I would not be able to name them consistently, thus I still would not be able ot find files.  What I would like to be able to do is define a database of tags by category (people, place, etc) and be able to assign them to pictures by point and click, click and drag or something, so I can have the tag database be consistent and applied across all the images in the database.  This way I could look up pictures by tag, like all images from 2006 and 2007 with the kids playing outside in the pool (by keyword, of course), and have the computer pull them all in a subset.  Oh, well, I will keep looking, but if anyone out there has any suggestions…

Since this is starting to get lengthy, I’ll stop here and post part 2 on another day.


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