“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”- English Proverb
A fire that originated more than 48 hours ago continues to engulf the Times of India’s building located on central Delhi’s ITO crossing. The fire broke out in the server room located on the first floor and then quickly spread to the second floor of the five storeyed building.
While no human casualties have been reported, an unmeasurable loss to the institution is being feared- all data, including that of the photo department since the year 2005 is lost.
The Times of India (TOI) is noted as one of the oldest and most commercially successful newspapers in India. The paper was the first broadsheet outlet in India to transition to full colour in 2003 and since that decision to go full colour, its readership has picked up massively making it the forth largest circulated paper in the year 2013.
TOI is also well known for being one of the early adopters of digital photography, infact the paper began digitally scanning and printing its film images since the mid 90’s.
While the exact loss is still unaccounted, the gravity of it is immediately understandable- and institution that has lost its entire archive.
At such a juncture it is necessary to realise the importance of developing and maintaining a safe, and foolproof workflow of saving and maintaining your images, be it an individual or an institution.
Unlike the film days where making multiple physical copies was a time consuming job, making digital copies of your images takes only a few minutes.
The first link in the chain is choosing the correct hard drive, one that is designed for the storage of high volume photo and video data and not the cheapest one available at your local computer store.
Secondly, making copies onto different hard drives and then storing them in two different geographical locations to safeguard from theft, fire and things such as natural disasters is an unsaid rule. Institutions can take this a step further by building a simple, cost effective method where by individual photographers back up their daily data on their local hard drives and the data is then transferred onto a centralised server at the end of the day. This server can be self programmed to make a copy of its data onto another server stored is a different location whereby any disaster of anykind can be averted. It should also be noted that most servers come preprogrammed with this capability these days.
Thirdly, its is widely understood that saving on the cloud is a good option, it should also be kept in mind that your images will be stored on a third party’s server space, and that space (be it Apple, Google or Amazon) is open to hacks. Moreover, it may not be advisable in the case of journalists to store your images with a third party due to ethical reasons.
Lastly, TOI’s loss should be viewed not as a personal loss of an institution but as a loss to photography itself. The incident highlights not only serious flaws in the lack of foresight and investments from the top level in protecting one’s data but also serious weakness in the functioning – of storing all data in one location- putting all the eggs in one basket.
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