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Aperture albums on non-HFS+ disks #1
jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
January 11, 2012 - 2:19pm

I want to make it easier to keep my Aperture albums organized/archived/backuped and was considering using a Linux server I have as an “archive server”. That is, I would copy the Aperture albums to/from this server using FTP (or more correctly: one of the servers disks mounted as a real disk on my laptop using ExpanDrive - which uses SSH+FTP). From there I would make the proper backups and if I need to work on an album I would copy it down to my laptop and do all the work locally.

My question is: can I copy Aperture albums like this, store them on a non-HFS+ filesystem and expect them to work correctly afterwards? Does anyone have any experience from something like this?

jem

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
January 11, 2012 - 6:13pm

Jan,

Sounds overly-complicated to me. But let’s step through what you want to achieve, instead of how you want to do it.

What is the precise reason you want to do (something like) this? What is it you want to achieve that you don’t currently have?

To answer the “can I…” question, you can select any portion of a Library (projects, albums, whatever) and export them as a Library (File > Export > [selection] as Library…) and merge those with other Libraries or open them as stand-alone Libraries, and Aperture is very good at determining which is the newer version and letting that one take priority. However unless you’re diligent it can be easy to confuse versions and you can end up wasting a lot of time copying large libraries back and forth. Basically it’s a fantastic feature but if you’re not paying attention, it can bite you.

Anyway, let’s discuss what it is you’re hoping to achieve and come up with a workflow from there.

@PhotoJoseph
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jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
January 11, 2012 - 11:34pm

Sigh … I wrote a long answer to this, describing my setup but when I submitted the server dropped the connection so everything was lost. Will try to write a new answer tomorrow - need to sleep now.

jem

jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
January 12, 2012 - 8:06am

OK, I’ll give some background for my question.

First, I’m just a hobby photographer so I make no money or have any “customers”. I just take pictures for fun, share them with friends and family. I also take a lot of pictures at my martial arts club, these photos are used on our web site but also in printed ads. Sometimes I get asked for “action shots” of people at the club - I assume that most of these ends up on FB, but it has happened that they have been included in some printed media.

What is of interest is that I once or twice each week need to access old images.

I don’t have a dedicated Mac for photography, sometimes (perhaps once each month) I use the family Mac to do some special things but I usually use the Macbook Pro I got from work. This means that I can’t really change the hardware on the laptop since it’s not mine, also I can’t store too much data on it - perhaps 20-30 GB then I need to “archive” the files somewhere else.

At home I also have a Linux server with plenty of disk space + that my house has a fiber connection to the internet (no limits on transfer of data, and currently a 100Mbs connection).

The types of pictures I take are either what I call “daily photos”, photos that I take during a typical day (iPhone and a Canon S90 - always RAW), or for some event, for example some family event, an event at the club or some flower pictures from the garden (typically using a Nikon DSLR - always RAW).

I’ve tried various way of working with the photos, for example having one large library with everything in it, but the strategy that seem to work best for me is to keep an “incoming library” where all new “events” get a new project and “daily photos” end up in a monthly project. All projects have the name “YYYY-MM name” or “YYYY-MM-DD name”. I have a “master keyword list” in that library that I use to tag the photos, I also do all my processing in that album. Once I have processed/tagged/etc the photos in one project I share/upload them as appropriate. And once I’ve done that I want to get that project off my laptop - and this is where my problems start.

The exported projects are stored in folders by year, since I usually know when a photo was taken this makes it fairly easy for me to get some old photos … if I have access to the disk where the libraries are.

I have tried to use a set of external drives for archiving my data, but since I don’t have a workplace at home (mostly working sitting in the sofa) this means that I need to physically get the disks to copy the libraries to the external disk. And since I want to have a backup (actually three) I also need to do the copying to the other disks … and since one of the backups is offsite I also have to arrange a meeting with the person who stores the offsite disk and spend an hour in the car to fetch it. Do I need to say that this doesn’t work very well? It’s also a bit difficult to access old libraries when I’m not at home.

The laptop gets backuped to TimeMachine, some documents (no photos) are also “backuped” to server at work using subversion, this server is then backuped using a “Enterprise Level Backup” solution.

So everything works fairly well for me except the archiving part, and the problem is that I never have the external disks available when I need them and the shuffling of data takes too many time consuming manual steps.

So I got the idea that I would take advantage of my server at home, by storing the archived libraries there. This would mean that:

+ Backups can easily be done automatically by a few simple scripts (my experience is that non-automatic backups doesn’t happen at all)

+ Offsite backup can be achieved either by something like Crashplan/Carbonite or setting up a linux system at the place where I’m currently storing my external disks (I have a netbook that would be suitable for this).

+ The actual archiving can be done from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection.

+ I can access the archives from anywhere.

I’ve done something similar with my regular documents (read: text files) and this have worked just fine. I do this either by mounting a catalog on my linux server as a disk on my Mac using SSH/FTP and ExpanDrive, or just directly by SSH/FTP.

Being a CS person I’m a bit obsessed with backups, currently I keep worrying about my photos since I don’t have a working backup solution that I feel confident in (TM isn’t enough for me). So I would sleep a bit better if I have a working archiving solution with a proper backup.

That is the long background for my question.

So what I was worrying about in my original question was if Aperture uses some extended file attributes, or something else that would be lost when storing the data on a non-HFS+ disk (or sending the data across using FTP) - making the libraries unusable.

Also, if someone have a better idea how to do this I’m all ears. My basic requirements are:

+ I can’t store data on my laptop, and using the other Mac is really cumbersome (and it can’t be turned on 24/7).
+ I want to have a good backup solution, this means one local copy and one offsite copy (at least)
+ I want it to be easy to archive and retrieve my libraries - from home and work.

jem

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
January 12, 2012 - 9:16pm

Jan,

You have 100 Mbit fiber internet?! Damn I’m moving… where do you live? ;-) I have 10 up and 25 down, but man… 100 would be sweet

OK, on to your question.

Your situation makes perfect sense, and I think there’s an easy solution. Most of what you’re doing now, I wouldn’t really change. Having an “Incoming” library, where you make projects tagged with a yyyy-mm-dd name is perfect. You didn’t say if you’re working managed or referenced, but I’m assuming managed. If not, then switch to managed. That’ll make this much, much easier.

Once you’re ready to offload a project (and I think this is what you’re already doing), just export individual projects as new libraries. (Since you’re working managed, each new Library will be completely self-contained). And I stress doing them individually, since that is effectively what you want to be able to look for and access at any time. Once you’ve exported an individual project into a new library called “2012-01-12 | Martial Arts Competition” or whatever, you can move that into your Linux server and delete it from your Aperture library (and MacBook desktop).

Once it’s on the Linux server, how you back it up is up to you. I am a HUGE fan of services like Carbonite or Backblaze. I use Backblaze myself; if you decide to sign up, please consider using my affiliate link. Oh shoot Backblaze doesn’t do Linux… owell.

Now you’re building a collection of Libraries on the Linux server that you can download to your computer at will. You described keeping them organized by date, and that’s great. I’m assuming you can also search across the server, so having really descriptive names for your projects and therefore new Libraries is key. Make sure it’s something like “2012-01-12 | Family summer vacation to Disneyland, Florida” so there are major keywords to look for, instead of just “Family vacation”.

At this point, when you need to access an older Project (now a self-contained Library), just download that one, open it (don’t merge it with your existing “Incoming” Library… just treat it as a unique Library) and do your work, then when done, push it back to the Linux server, replacing what’s there (or even versioning it if you wanted to).

As far as the extended file attributes; I don’t have a real answer for you except to say “yeah, probably”. The Aperture Library is a package, and I couldn’t begin to tell you what could happen to the package when it gets moved to another file system. I think to be safe, you should zip the Library before moving it. It won’t get much smaller at all, but at least you know it’s protected. Zipping is built into the OS; just right-click and choose “Archive”. This will add time to the process, but IMHO it’ll be worth it.

Obviously, test this workflow out before permanently deleting anything from your laptop :)

I think that answers all your questions… let me know if I missed anything!

@PhotoJoseph
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jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
January 12, 2012 - 9:41pm

Just one, how did you know that we went to US this summer and spent some time at Disneyland ;)

(“2012-01-12 | Family summer vacation to Disneyland, Florida” but the date is a few months off)

I’ll play around a bit during the weekend and see how it works out. Zipping sounds like a good idea.

jem

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
January 13, 2012 - 12:36am

Jan,

What, seriously?? Ha that’s funny… I almost put “Hawaii” but I thought that too pretentious :) Of course I put in today’s date, which is silly since I also called it “Summer vacation”. Of course, if you were from Australia…

Keep us posted; it’s an interesting workflow that if successful, could merit a write-up for others in a similar situation.

@PhotoJoseph
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