Online Aperture Backup

Now that I’ve fully embraced the RAW digital camera revolution courtesy of Aperture and my Nikon D200, I’ve started filling my PowerBook’s (now puny) 80GB drive with photos. My current workflow looks as follows:

  1. Take photos

  2. Get photos into Aperture and onto PowerBook

  3. Post-process adjusting white balance etc.

  4. Post to Flickr with FlickrExport

  5. Backup vault to external Lacie hard-drive

  6. Format CompactFlash card

  7. Start-over

I’m a relatively paranoid person- the RAW files are the only ‘negatives’ I have. Although I do backup JPEG copies of the pictures to Flickr (which is brilliant now there’s no upload limit), my only full backup is the Lacie hard-drive. Now I’ve not had many hard drives fail on me, but in my desktop machine I had a drive fail in the striped RAID setup I had and all is gone. If I were to lose the Lacie hard drive I’d be in real trouble.

I also try to keep the Lacie hard-drive and my PowerBook in different locations. Should either be stolen or damaged through fire etc., I still have the other.

But, that still doesn’t satisfy my paranoia. So, I’m going to try and add some online backup magic to the mix.


My first thought was to go with one of the professional photo archive sites such as PhotoShelter. They provide a free Aperture plug-in to export directly to the site, support RAW conversion (including for NEF files generated by my Nikon D200 - brilliant!), and are pretty reasonable price wise.

But, their terms of use seemed to imply they weren’t intended to be used as an archival service:


Plus, I never quite got to grips with their user interface, it rejected a couple of NEFs I uploaded, and more importantly, I’d prefer to just have a secondary backup of my Aperture vault, rather than individual images.


Bingodisk is provided by the folks at Joyent (who now own TextDrive. It’s a simple service providing good chunks of storage over WebDAV for pretty cheap, with limited (but big) bandwidth transfer limits.

Knowing I could mount WebDAV in OSX pretty easily, and reading how it’s possible to trick Aperture into backing up onto a network drive, I figured it’d be worth a shot. Unfortunately, WebDAV doesn’t seem to be a particularly efficient way to work with Aperture - even on a pretty hefty broadband connection, it’s still very slow. So much so I gave up to find something better.


Strongspace seems ideal on almost everything except price. It provides SFTP/rsync support, a nice little browser to view your files. And, unlimited transfer.

Rsync seems a pretty natural thing to want to do, and doesn’t require me to think or change too much of my process. Just backup the vault when I want to, and backup only the changes. All I need do is run

rsync -rltvz /Volumes/LACIE/Lacie\ Vault

My current Aperture vault weighs in at around 16GB. The rsync is currently uploading at around 150KB/s, I make that around 29 hours worth of time left. But since it’ll only send changes in the future, it shouldn’t always be quite so painful.

Incidentally, does anyone else have good experiences with backup sites?