Yes CD/DVD disks do have a longer shelf life however, the media inside the CD/DVD has a finite life. Some are unusable within a year of burning. That media is burned by a laser, from then on the media starts degrading; some quicker than others.
I have seen many CD/DVDs that in less than a year were unreadable or some data was unrecoverable thus data is lost, ugh. The person that burned those disks verified at the time of their burn the data was readable so, we cannot blame the person doing the burning.
Think of a book where the ink eats the pages, I am sure we have all seen that happen. That is what happens to CD/DVD, also many of the archival do the same. Myself, when it comes to photos/data I do not trust the CD/DVD media. As for rewrite type CD/DVDs, do not use them for archival.
Of course YMMV.
I agree about the DVD's, but I've been lucky to have very few DVD-R's go bad in the years I've been burning them. Maybe because I use high quality blanks or write at slower speeds. Who knows? Now DVD-RW's, I've had many of them go bad, so I don't use them anymore. Not worth the aggravation.
But I've also had several standalone HD's go bad over the years, so I don't trust them either. My backup strategy now is to use a combination of cloud services and a 4 TB RAID-X server for all my precious stuff. Maybe overkill, but I'd probably slit my wrists if I lost years of picture/movies/music due to media failure
How well I agree with you about the RWs, long ago I quit using them.
Please, be aware RAID is not a backup it is to maintain up time of our hardware not our data. Example: if your RAID is pulling from your local drive and, you delete a file from your local drive it is removed across the RAID. So now, where is the file to restore it is el-gone-o.
When we have a backup we go get the file. If there is file corruption on a drive it most often carries to the other drives, oops. I use RAID for hardware uptime, backup is to save my data, two different things. I suggest doing a Bing, Google, Yahoo and the like for more information. Of course if you are familiar with this please disregard. My finding is many folks have a misunderstanding about RAID.
When I refer to backups I mean drag/drop and copy/paste files to someplace else. That way one can get to their whole files from anywhere with any computer at any time, it is never overkill to have redundant backups. Congratulation on doing that.
Truly I understand the slit wrist scenario. After years of me pleading with friends to backup, I received a call that they lost their data they then miraculously understood/heard the word backup. Lead a horse to water cannot make them drink; oh-well.
My RAID-5 is a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ that I use to store some critical backups of my main system along with my 500 GB iTunes library. I literally spent a year ripping my CD collection to iTunes (in ALAC format), so losing this library would be the death knell to my sanity
My main machine has a dedicated Time Machine firewire drive, along with a separate firewire drive that I clone the main machine's entire HD using SuperDuper! That way if my main machine goes down, i can easily attach the SuperDuper! clone and be up and running in minutes. I can tell you from actual experience (unfortunately) that the SuperDuper! clone drive works great. I also use a 50 GB Dropbox account to store critical documents in the cloud.
Overkill? I don't think so, but my family and friends - who have no backups whatsoever - just laugh and can't see the need. I think it'll take the loss of their iTunes library (with all their purchased music) or their precious digital photos to nudge them slightly to my way of thinking. It's a shame, but their attitude is typical of many, if not most, consumer computer users.
Overkill, heck no! Your data is much too important to lose, you are covering all bases; you are doing well.
If your family and friends used a simple external HDD backing up once a month they would be better off than a high percentage of folks that do not perform backups. It depends on the value we put on our data, it is obvious you put tremendous value on your data.
Dropbox I use as well, SuperDuper! is a wonderful program, often I recommend it. TM I used for a while then I read that over time it deletes (rotates) files making room for newer files. So, when I want something too far back, in TM it would be gone. That for me was not a good option. Also, if I needed the files for and from another computer TM files would not be available. For me, drag/Drop, Copy/Paste works I find it more reliable.
My preference is full file backups not incremental—I sleep better. Numerous times I have seen incremental backups cop-an-attitude then the user could not retrieve files. Not a pretty sight nor to hear a grown person cry and wail on the phone or in person. They thought they had their data in backups, they took the steps to do the correct thing; quite sad.
We each have our system that works for us, the good thing is we are doing backups. Too many of my friends, associates and, relatives do not do backups. Yes, a few lost all their data; Oh-well.
If the images are important use both removal media (DVD) and HD.
I find it easier to find DVDs than rummage about for HD always stored in a "safe place".
My own preferred workflow at the moment is Bridge CS5 to manage the big files and put in keywords then export smaller images for iPhoto.
My experience suggests too many large files makes for a slower iPhoto. Make the large files small files and iPhoto retains its zippiness.
Best backup is 2-2 method, 2 medias in 2 places.
With that said, I recommend an external HD for storing all your photos long term. You'd keep some (like current year or ones you need to make a photo album) on internal HD but keep all of your photos on the external HD.
If you don't have any external HD for Time Machine, you should get one right now, ASAP and get Time Machine going. You could theoretically use the same external HD for Time Machine and storing photos. Best option is separate HD for photos.
And after all that, you should still burn DVDs of photos for backup.
Comparison of HD versus DVD for backing up photos
---External HD backup
Easy to backup new photos
Easy to access/review
Easy to move onto newer HD in the future (Connect both old and new HDs, drag/drop the files and walk away)
Shorter shelf life than DVDs
Higher initial cost
Longer shelf life
Harder to access (swapping 5 DVDs to find that one picture?)
Harder to move to new media (ever tried swapping 20 DVDs to copy them to a HD)
Tools that will be useful for you (free):
At 10 cents per GB of HD mass storage today hard drives are very cheap images storage, and they last a very long time when only run once in a while. Just have several in different locations and check them (use Apple's Disk Utility, or better still use Disk Warrior) every few months.
Today IMO DVDs make little sense because (a) they cannot be easily checked, (b) no easy search, (c) we do not know how long they will last and (d) they are slow and tedious to deal with, hence we are less likely to do it.
If I could go back to my original question....
My library is too large to fit on a single DVD. (this is about to get a little complicated). When I installed the new iPhoto for some reason, my photos reappeared in very random order. For example, a photo from my vacation last month to Europe appears intermingled now with Christmas photos from 7 years ago. And some of them are mixed up with a different vacation. If I simply split the photo library in half and burn two DVDs, won't I lose any albums I created, which need to reference the original library?
As far as the external drive solution, on my iMac I followed iPhoto help's instructions to simply drag the iPhoto library photo from my home folder to the new external disk. But all that did is make a copy of it. The original is still on my internal hard drive.
What should I do? As in my original post, I am still drowning in photos, and my MacBook pro is now nonfunctional because the hard drive is so full.
By the way, during the transfer to the external drive from my iMac, it said the file was about
Any help would be very appreciated.
I followed iPhoto help's instructions to simply drag the iPhoto library photo from my home folder to the new external disk. But all that did is make a copy of it. The original is still on my internal hard drive.
So, once you're happy that the copy to the external has gone correctly, delete the library on yor internal?