Cloud for off-site

I take photographs with a 24 MP camera, and shoot in RAW. I also record 1080p/2160p videos, and I also scan I went to look into prices and quality concerning cloud storage solutions.

I appreciate the following the most:

  • For Microsoft Windows 10 users. Note:
    • Microsoft Office 365 Personal costs € 7,00 per month, and includes Microsoft Office 365 with 1 TB of storage.
    • Microsoft Office 365 Family costs € 10,00 per month for 6 users, and comes with that for each individual user.
    • Also great to share data with mobile devices.
    • If you have more than 1 TB, this becomes a less relevant option.
  • Google Workspace Enterprise Standard. Note:
    • Comes with e-mail on your own custom domain name (sold seperately), like yourname@example.com.
    • Only real "unlimited storage for a fixed price" product available from any cloud storage providers, at € 17,30 per month.
    • Overall best value for your money by far.
    • Disadvantage: A bit slow when you have a lot of small files. The bigger the files, the better the overall performance.
  • Backblaze B2, which has a low price of $ 0,005 per used GB. Note:
    • If you have 4 TB or more, Google Workspace Enterprise Standard becomes a cheaper option.
    • You have to pay for downloading your data.
    • Still excellent as a secondary backup in addition to your local storage, and perhaps Google Drive (through Google Workspace).
    • Can grow as big as you need it to, does get pricey at some point.
    • Super performance, even for small files.. so great for photographers.

For a full overview:

As an honorable mention, there is also the personal plan of Backblaze for $6/month with unlimited storage, but it can only be used with their own proprietary client and is therefore very limited.

Local harddrives (incl. NAS)

Very expensive per harddrive, and prone to being lost at the same time as the original copy. No history revisions either.

LTO (Tape) storage

For the next bit you'll have to keep the following into account:

  • Initial drive cost is extremely high, thousands of € high.
  • But tapes are about 25% of a new harddisk of the same size.
  • Compression of data will only go so far as the data lets you, let's assume it'll get you nowhere:
    • Images (JPG, PNG, Raw), video (h.264/h.265), and audio (mp3/flac) usually don't allow for a lot of further compression as they already are!
  • You only have one tape drive, so you can only access one tape at a time. With harddisks, you can attach as many as you are able to hook up at the same time.

At the time of writing this:

  • A Quantum LTO-8 HH drive costs € 2710. 12 TB (native)
  • A Quantum LTO-7 HH drive costs € 1936. 6 TB (native) tapes for it cost € 62.
  • A Quantum LTO-6 HH drive costs, averaged, € 1000.
  • Western Digital Elements 12 TB drives cost €175 each.

  • LTO-8 tapes store 12 TB natively each, and cost € 104.
  • LTO-7 tapes store 6 TB natively each, and cost € 62. Used in the LTO-8 drive they store 9 TB.
  • LTO-6 tapes store 2.5 TB natively each, and cost € 26.
  • LTO-5 and LTO-4 tapes are not readily available new. Let's assume you have € 5000 to invest, that means that:

  • With LTO-8, you will be able to get the drive along with:
    • 22x LTO-8 12TB tapes = 264 TB
    • 37x LTO-7 6TB tapes (acting as 9 TB LTO-8M tapes) = 333 TB
  • With LTO-7, you will be able to get the drive along with 49x 6TB tapes = 294 TB
  • With regular external USB harddisks, you will be able to 28x 12 TB drives = 336 TB

If you have € 7500 to invest, it'll mean that:

  • With LTO-8, you will be able to get the drive along with:
    • 46x LTO-8 12TB tapes = 552 TB
    • 77x LTO-7 6 TB tapes (acting as 9 TB LTO-8M tapes) = 693 TB
  • With LTO-7, you will be able to get the drive along with 89x 6TB tapes = 534 TB
  • With regular external USB harddisks, you will be able to 42x 12 TB drives = 504 TB

At this price point, LTO-7 tapes in a LTO-8 drive have the very clear advantage.

Conclusion: Unless you can manage getting the prices down for the initial tape drive purchase (buy used, for instance, which is next to impossible for LTO-8), it's not worth it unless you're aiming to backup north of 500 TB. With USB drives you can grow organically, as well, with no prior investment being required. Or even send them off to someone/somewhere else. Tapes are not portable.