Photo Backup on DVD: Love or Hate?

Love, Hate
Creative Commons License photo credit: A.gonzalez

My last post about backing up photos on DVD immediately brought out the comments… mostly negative regarding the use of the medium as a feasible backup solution. Hey, everyone is more than entitled to their own opinion, and I even said right up front that when it comes to DVD backups photographers either love it or hate it.


So I’m actually very curious about this topic now. Am I the only one left who uses (and likes) DVD backups? I was pretty certain that I knew of more than a few photographer who backup on DVD. Or are the other DVD-lovers just not speaking up? Let’s find out!


And when you’re done voting here, check out the results from the last photo backup poll: “Have You Ever Needed to Use Your Photo Backup?” Over 50% of those who voted have lost photos at some point. Luckily most of those photographers had a photo backup, but there is a portion that either lost the backup too or didn’t have one.

23 thoughts on “Photo Backup on DVD: Love or Hate?

  1. Pingback: Photo Backup: DVD

  2. Curtis

    I said dislike. Hate is a pretty strong word, but I did have some DVD backups go bad. That combined with the amount of time it takes to make and restore from mean it’s not a viable solution for me. I use an rsync script with two different external hard drives, one stays in the detached garage and one in my home office. They are swapped weekly so the one in the garage is never more than a week out of sync…

  3. Scott Coulter

    For me, DVDs are a “second tier” backup. My primary backup is a script that uses rsync to copy changed files from my laptop’s internal drive to a shared drive on a network server. In addition to that, I make occasional backups to DVD… up until recently I was able to put several months’ worth of photos on a DVD; of course, as I take more and more pictures, that will change.

  4. libeco

    I use external drives, but I don’t hate DVD’s. I just don’t use them for photo back-up (anymore). I guess the main reasons for me are the ease of an external HD and the limited size of one DVD…

  5. Rick Lobrecht

    I do use DVDs to back up my photos, but it’s not my only backup. DVDs that you can burn at home have a limited shelf life (under a decade) so unless you have a strategy for reburning your DVDs every few years, you’re kidding yourself.

  6. Royston

    I use DVDs currently and just store in a huge storage folder. This can be cumbersome if I want to pull up multiple images from multiple DVDs. I would like to move to a HDD based solution soon.

  7. Sean Phillips

    I never use DVD’s anymore. I’ve had too many discs go bad over the years and they are too time consuming to maintain. I much prefer the automated nightly backup to an external hard drive, and then a monthly backup to an additioanl external hard drive that I store offsite.

  8. Gary

    I just find DVDs too impractical and difficult to manage for a regular backup method. I have to admit that I still do an ‘end of year’ DVD set and send them to my brother’s house just as an absolute, last ditch, extra level of protection (which is in addition to the online backups and the on-site backups I do).

  9. Jarrod

    I relied on DVDs as a backup media until about 9 months ago. I have since switched to dual external drives for most of my backups; however, I will occasionally burn a “best of” DVD just in case…

  10. Stefan

    DVDs have three major drawbacks:
    – Too small to handle the amount of data produced when shooting raw
    – Too unreliable; media degenerate quickly, and there’s still a lot of writer-media-firmware-compatibility-“voodoo” to get good results
    – Too inconvenient when restoring data

    To get around the second point, I make two copies of all my DVD backups. Additionally, I create error-correcting data with DVDisaster ( Call me paranoid – but I’ve seen people lose (allegedly) back-up’ed data once too often…

  11. Kristi

    I’d vote for liking DVDs – but I seem to be lacking in figuring out how to cast that vote. (sheepish smile)

  12. Gary R Boodhoo

    DVD is for transporting data not archiving it. Limited capacity makes backup a chore meaning backup won’t happen at all. And for those files you do back up, Optical media is best way to forget about & subsequently lose your assets. It is infinitely preferable to backup to a file server, network attached storage, external hard drive (ideally all three methods0

  13. Brian Kloc

    As others have said, I make two copies of each archive DVD. One goes in the binder at home, the other goes in a drawer at the office. However, DVDs are a bit small, so sometimes I have to pare down my images to the best 4.7 gigs. Not a huge deal IMHO. If the best image isn’t in the first 4.7 gigs, I probably need to rethink my shooting method, not my backup method.

  14. George L Smyth

    I voted “Impartial” because I have used DVDs in the past. I put the year’s images on DVDs, but just now looking at this year, the total comes to over 50 Gig. DVDs for this year are not going to be practical, so I’m going to be forced into an external hard drive.

  15. Eden Hensley

    I HATE DVD backups – that said, in addition to a secondary external drive, I backup everything on DVDs. I chose hate over dislike in that it’s the most time-consuming process to archive photos onto the DVD (or set of DVDs). I believe like external drives, DVD backups are a necessary evil.

    I back up everything – raw files, in process PSDs, and final JPGs. When I’m color correcting proofs for a job I don’t want an emergency to wipe out all of that work (I’ve been there before so now I’m over cautious). For a most shoots, I have 3 or more DVDs. Each DVD needs to be verified to make sure that the write was good. Records of what’s on what DVD (as well as what’s on what external drive) need to be kept or in a pinch (when you actually need to use the backup) you won’t be able to find what you need. Each DVD needs to make its way to an offsite location.

    I’m hoping archival quality DVDs really do last 25+ years as I’m not looking forward to potentially having to transfer all the data onto a new set of backup DVDs.

  16. RH

    I like it in theory, but I have a hard time remembering to do those incremental backups. My Seagate takes care of the day-to-day, but I always worry about the power surge that could take it out along with the computer . . . scary.

  17. Mattias Wirf

    I’m emberrased to say I have never burnt a DVD, eventhough I worked with compters for 10 years now 😉 My external drives does the job good enough + double discs in the machines.

  18. Gungesh

    I’m all with the concept of backing up of photos on DVD. Recently, I had a problem where I my external hard drive crashed and had to go away with my beloved snaps (and data)…
    From that day on , I ensure that I make a copy of the snaps from my trip on a DVD and keep it in my CD case.
    I believe this is a very safe way to keep away your stuff but ofcourse not ignoring the fact that DVD/CD need lot of care and attention to preserve the data.

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