Aperture on a PowerBook, Pt. 3 - DAM

by Derrick Story

I've been reading about whether Aperture is a true Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, or more of a photo management application. I'm not totally clear on the distinction, but I can tell you this. I've tested its backup and restore, and I think it works great.

There are two basic ways to backup. The first is using "Vaults." Generally speaking, Vaults are complete copies of your entire Aperture library that are stored on external FireWire drives. I have three Vaults. The first is located on a 60 GB iPod that I always carry with me. The second is on a FW drive at home, and the third is on a drive at the office. I manage these Vaults with its Inspector.

Vault Inspector

In the Vault inspector, Aperture shows you the status of your Vaults and if they’re connected. If the status button is black, the Vault is up to date. Yellow indicates that all of the Master files have been backed up, but a change has occurred to at least one version file that hasn’t been backed up. Red means that you have at least one master file that has not been backed up. To back up a Vault, just connect the FireWire drive and and click on the yellow or red update button. Aperture will compare the library in the Vault with that in Aperture, then update the Vault with the differences. The status color will then change to black.

The backups are incremental and speedy enough not to ruin your workflow. When you restore, as I've also tested, Aperture makes your existing library "old," and adds the restored library to your Pictures folder.


I actually copied the old library on to an external drive (just to be safe), then trashed it on my PowerBook. I was then using the new library. Everything was intact when I relaunched Aperture. But I did have to wait for the thumbnails to reload when I opened each project. This was a one-shot deal. After the first loading, the project behaved normally as before.

The other method I want to mention is actually dragging a project out of Aperture and on to your Desktop or external drive. The project -- with all of your master images, versions, metadata, etc. -- lives in a container that you can drag into another copy of Aperture. This is really slick, and a great way to backup parts of your library or share them with other Aperture users.

Regardless if you consider this a true DAM solution or not, I like Aperture's approach to backup. It will be fun to see how this function evolves in upcoming versions.

More in this series...


2005-12-12 08:57:00
response to others?
In reading the last three parts of your review I am curious why you haven't responded to (confirmed or denied) the overwhelming evidence that aperture doesn't cut it (especially given the price).
I am specifically talking about the Ars review (http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/aperture.ars) discussing the many shortcomings and bugs and the discussion on the Apple Support Forum including an open letter from professional photographers (http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=257791&tstart=0).
We don't need another airy aperture is great review like http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/prodtech/reviews/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001435191 or http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/os/macos/story/0,10801,105575,00.html?source=x253 when you are going to shell out $500.
2005-12-12 09:08:21
No NAS storage support :-\
Small note .. one thing very disappointing is that backups will not work over NAS networked storage for some bizarre reason. I have 2 USB/FW drives attached to a Linksys NAS connection and the app refused to do a backup unless it was a straight connection. Any ideas on why that would be?
2005-12-12 09:31:37
Backup on DVD
Is there a way to backup on DVD?
2005-12-12 09:53:06
RE: response to others?
First of all, I don't feel the need to respond to any other reviewer. What I'm doing here is presenting my experiences with Aperture. I've been working with it diligently preparing for a Power Tools workshop at Macworld SF.

To tell you the truth, the more I use Aperture, the better I like it. I particularly like the way it handles versioning. Data is never tossed, even when you crop. Yet, you only have one photo file, and everything is XML.

My personal feeling is that many reviewers have rushed their verdicts in order to get out early reviews. This is why I'm blogging in stages rather than writing up a full review now. It takes time and real world experience to really learn apps such as Aperture.

2005-12-12 09:56:06
RE: No NAS storage support :-\
I don't have any idea why because I haven't tested this myself. But I suspect that we will see an early fix for this one.
2005-12-12 10:00:44
RE: Backup on DVD
I don't think you're going to be able to use the Vault function with DVD because it seems designed specifically for backing up to hard drives.

However, you should be able to backup your Project containers to DVD by simply dragging them out of Aperture and placing them in a Burn folder. I haven't tested this, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work.