Lightroom Tips

Are DVDs Dead? (for Lightroom photo backup purposes that is)

Just curious… anyone using DVDs to backup their photos still? Some one asked me the other day how they should name their backup photo DVDs so that they’re easy to find later on in Lightroom. Honestly, it’s been YEARS since I’ve used a DVD to backup photos. The average DVD holds 4.7 Gigabytes per layer. Sure there’s different kind of DVDs but for the most part, you’re looking around 4 GB. So if you shoot with a 16 GB card (and fill it up), you’d need 4 DVDs just to back up that one card. If you’re shooting with a 32GB card (which I am), you’d need almost 8 DVDs. To me, it just doesn’t seem like a feasible backup solution any more. You can buy 1 TB external drives for under $150 now. That would be around 215 DVDs worth of storage. So you could even buy two of them to make sure you have two backups of your photos (something I rarely hear people who backup to DVDs do).

Are you still using DVDs to backup your photos? If so, why?



  1. Ruth 17 March, 2014 at 12:53 Reply

    This is a question about LR backups, rather than a comment, so please re-direct me if I am in the wrong place, thanks.
    As a result of reading Matt Kloskowski’s video about backing up, and following his links to here, I have at last done a LR5 backup. I notice now that it is only the .lrcat folder that is backed up, and it it only about 2gb in size. My question is, is it necessary to have a backup of the .lrdata folder, which in my case is 6ogb!
    If I lost that due to a crash, but had the .lrcat file on another drive as a backup, would LR5 work, what would it have lost?
    Thanks, Ruth

  2. dave 22 December, 2013 at 09:06 Reply

    This brings up a good question/point. I only use External HDs as well as Carbonite, but WHAT ARE SOME DRIVES YOU ARE USING? Drobo is a strong contender. With THunderbolt becoming more prevalent, is anyone using other drives and having good luck with both production as well as back up?
    happy holidays

  3. Art 4 June, 2012 at 12:08 Reply

    Just a little warning, don’t relly 100% on hard drives. they can fail quite often, doesn’t matter if its internal or external. External hard drive is nothing more then internal hard drive (usually lower quality) in side a casing that can fail faster because of heat (internal hard drives are cooled better), can fail because of shock (internal stay in place) and can fail because of extra hardware (usb/esata/firewire) control board. Anyway, my point is if you want somewhat reliable hard drive storage, use multiple hard drives in raid configuration, use raid 1 mode or even better raid 5. And have two of these configurations, one onsite, one offsite. Distaster can strike, even raid system can get corrupted, fried by lighting etc…

  4. Doug Maffett 28 March, 2012 at 21:02 Reply

    I actually use Flickr as an offsite backup. $25 and unlimited data backup. The only bad thing is it only backs up JPEG, but I still get a full JPEG, and don’t have to worry about anything being lost. I use Jeffery Freidl’s lightoom plugin to keep all my photos up to date on Flickr. One change in lightroom and it automatically changes the Flickr copy. Greatest combination ever.

  5. Scott 26 March, 2012 at 00:12 Reply

    I’ve been attempting to make the switch to external drives. The question I have is more directed at your primary storage. Do you use an internal or external hard drive for primary storage? I have outgrown my current internal, and externals are significantly cheaper. Are they as stable? I know they are definitely easier to use if/when I change my computer someday. But is it better or worse than an internal drive? Or indifferent? I’d like to hear what the pros are doing.

  6. Doug 19 March, 2012 at 18:26 Reply

    I still use DVDs as a backup, though I do use Dual Layer discs. Even if you shoot 16GBs how many of those are actual keepers and not test shots, out of focus, bad lighting (could be from Strobe misfires, to sun coming from behind the clouds to over expose the shoot beyond saving), etc…?

    I myself rarely dispose of images on camera and wait till I can view them in Lightroom, GIMP, Photoshop, Canon Digital Photo Professional, or another image editing/viewing program. That’s when I will toss the obviously bad shots (a pre-edit).

    After the pre-edit, I then immediately back up all the remaining images (my keepers) onto at least 2 DVDs (one will remain on site in a fire safe, the other is stored securely off site), an extra internal HDD, an external HDD and if they are photos that are more important then the rest they will then get uploaded to a storage server that is off site (there are many great “cloud” services out there that one can use. I then save all edited copies onto DVDs, again one stored onsite in a fire safe the other off site. Though I do let clients know I can only guarantee that I will have copies of the images for up to a year from the initial shoot date (or last day of the shoot if it extends over multiple days), even if I do keep them for longer.

    If the images are for a client/customer/friend then they will also receive them on DVD (at a lower resolution and a small watermark on the images) along with limited copyrights (the ability to print off additional copies of the image, or use them on a social media site such as facebook).

  7. David 1 March, 2012 at 23:26 Reply

    Nope, no DVD’s. I use two external disk dirves. One stays in the office, the other is off-site. I rotate the off-site external disk drive with the extra ‘off-site’ drive in the office.

  8. John T. 1 March, 2012 at 14:31 Reply

    No. My backup system consists of an internal mirror drive and off-site Carbonite. This way, I have three copies of my image files. I do have an eternal HD that I could use if deemed necessary.

  9. Dennis Zito 1 March, 2012 at 08:33 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Nope, after my major crash about a month ago, I decided it was time to move up to the big time! 🙂 I purchased a 4 bay Drobo system to go with my New iMAC machine! Boy, do I love that combination. I’m retired so I’m usually on the computer most of the morning and early afternoon. I’ve set things up with my Mac and Drobo to back up everything at 3:00 pm. Then I do a final backup at 9:00 pm just before hitting the sack. I have two 1TB disks and one 500GB disk in the Drobo. I still have one bay open and will put in a 2TB drive when the prices come back down. I also have new 2TB external drive that I use for second backup of photos only. The only time I use DVD’s now is for sending photos to people, making travel/vacation documentaries, and keeping back up copies of all my downloaded programs/applications.


  10. dtpancio 1 March, 2012 at 08:28 Reply

    Yes, I still do. I follow the 3-2-1 backup rule, with one copy on DVDs (so, offline) dislocated offsite. In this way, I repair my data from theft and natural disasters 🙂

  11. RON 29 February, 2012 at 14:55 Reply

    Yes I still do. I do just in case of a catastrophic failure or corruption to something not known yet. But I don’t back up everything to DVD. Only those photos that are edited as the best from a shoot, and the jpegs of those along with all post work (usually saved as PSD ) wich could save me loads of work later. I also save to DVD any templates I create in PS as well as my actions,brushes,swatches ect.. So in the event of a major crash I can be up and running after a reinstall of photoshop.

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