Complete workflow, storage and backup solution for images and video - on a budget

Submitted by Janak on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 18:51

Around a year ago the unthinkable happened - my HDDs failed on me with over 6 years worth of photography and graphics design work. Nope, I only had one "backup" and that was corrupted and out of date. Lessons learnt..

Having searched the web and seeking advice from @chromasia and others, I wanted to setup a bulletproof workflow and backup solution for my digital assets - mainly RAW pics and 1080p video footage from my Canon 7D.

Since most of us cannot afford Drobo or other exotic backup solutions, I am no different. Photography is a hobby for me but the digital assets are no less important than if I was shooting for a client. I have some very rare and priceless memories/pictures of my parents, family and grandparents which I may not have a chance to shoot again.

So, with budget restrictions and future scaleability in mind, here is what I managed to setup using a lot of old and existing equipment:

Server Config

  • Intel Atom D525 ~£70
  • 1GB ram ~£15
  • 2 x 1.5TB HDDs in Raid 0 config ~£120
  • Gigabit LAN
  • Fedora 14 (headless)
  • VNC + Samba + AFP
  • EXT4 file system
  • OS boots from 8GB usb drive ~£15
  • Lian Li case ~£70
  • Rsync to Backup Server every hour
  • Server power consumption: ~25W

Cost: £290

Backup Server Config

  • Samsung NC10 - Intel Atom (my wife's old netbook) ~£230
  • 1GB ram
  • Backup HDD - 3 x 1TB USB2 HDDs in Raid 0 config (old HDDs) ~£120
  • Time Machine - 2 x 2TB USB2 HDDs in Raid 0 config ~£140
  • OSX 10.6 Snow Leo - yep, a hackintosh (for Time Machine) ~
  • VNC + Samba + AFP
  • OS boots from internal 120GB HDD
  • Server power consumption: ~8W
  • USB HDD power consumption: ~2-5W each

Cost: £490

Offsite Backup

  • Hetzner + Dreamhost server


  • Mixture of Macbook, Hackintosh Desktop, Windows 7 PC


  • Camera > Client > Server > Backup Server > Time Machine
  • Each project contains 3 sub folders:
    RAW - original files
    EDIT - Lightroom Edits
    WEB - Exports for Flicker, Facebook and Portfolio website
  • Adobe Lightroom for Digital Asset management and library
  • Lightroom catalog backed to server from client
  • Adobe Photoshop to further process any Lightroom exports

Final thoughts and notes

  • Network is on a Gigabit switch - max transfer rate of 48MB/sec between client and server
  • Recycled around 70% of the old unused bits and pieces I accumulated in the last few years
  • Total backup space 3TB
  • Total Time Machine space 4TB
  • Max transfer rate of 48MB/sec
  • Environmentally friendly, energy efficient and "Green"
  • Multi purpose, scaleable and UNDER £800