Awhile ago I recommended Picasa 3 to you. It’s fun and interesting and all that but there’s a little problem with backups. Picasa does offer the option of backing up your entire photo collection but it’s labour-intensive, inefficient and redundant. If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you should already be keeping at least one up-to-date backup of your entire photo collection. The issue here is backing up the work you do in Picasa.
If you’ve installed the latest version of Picasa, you’ve probably noticed that they’ve added some fun face-tagging to the mix, where all your people photos are divided up into individual faces. You can spend hours and hours adding names to them and then making face collages. You can spend even more hours adding geotags to all your photos.
And since we’re family historians and we just love organizing, it would be nice to know that our efforts are secure, not blown to the wind the next time our computer crashes or the next time we have to reinstall our operating system. This is something you should always consider when investing your time in cataloging files. Can you make a backup of it? Is your work going to be there later?
Picasa does provide a backup system, but I fail to see why anyone would want to use it. Regardless of how else you may already be making backups of your photo collection straight from your file folders, you would also have to burn your collection from within Picasa. And keep on burning disks as you add and change information. I believe this is the only way provided for preserving the face-tagging information.
If you follow this file-path:
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Picasa2
you’ll come to a folder called db3. This folder is full of Picasa database files. The face-tagging, on the other hand, is in the .ini’s. You’ll see the .ini’s in your photo folders if you use Picasa at all. Those are created automatically and should be left the way they are. If you open one with a text editor after doing some face-tagging, you’ll see lines like this:
which represent the face-tagging information. The names the faces belong to are also in the .ini code. For instance, in the example above, 4310d561… is my father, in thumbnail form. The geotagging is also embedded in the .ini code. It sounds pretty good so far.
But here’s the problem. The names connected to the numbers in the .ini files are controlled by files in db3. If you need to run Picasa on another computer or retrieve your work after a computer crisis, you’re going to need a backup of db3. If you don’t have one, Picasa will still import your photos but everyone in your folder tree under People will be listed as Unknown Person.
Your thumbnails will still be grouped the way you left them, but you’ll have to go through and rename all your friends and relatives. Even on a good day I’d find that really aggravating.
If you use online backup, add db3 to your routine.
If you’re using an external drive, I assume you’re also using some kind of backup utility to help you out with that. If not, try the free version of Syncback; it’s excellent. And make a backup set to include db3.
There’s another file in Picasa2 under Contacts called contact.xml that I believe is associated with using Picasa Web Albums. You might want to make a backup of that, too. But if you want to make sure you have everything, just back up the whole Picasa2 folder. Also back up the Picasa2Albums folder or you’ll lose any albums you’ve created.
(I’ve heard that syncing your files and contacts with Google Contacts and Web Albums will maintain your settings, but I haven’t tried it. And I wouldn’t believe a word I heard unless I tried it.)
If you’ve installed Picasa3 on another computer, you can copy the db3 folder into the Picasa2 folder to overwrite the default db3. If you can’t see where you’re going, click on Tools/Folder Options in any Windows window (such as My Pictures) and then click View/Show hidden files and folders. Same thing if you need to restore your work on your main computer.
Maybe someone with a home network could figure out how to make this synchronize. It’s not built-in and it’s out of my realm. I’m only interested in explaining the necessity of straight backups here. It’s really easy to get carried away with the cuteness of Picasa and not realize that underneath you’re heading for a ditch.
Make sure you’re running the same version number of Picasa on both computers when you copy the folders over. You may still have to go into Tools/Folder Manager in Picasa and let it re-find your photos, but your database work should be intact. This is only for emergencies. Set up a backup and then you don’t need to worry about it anymore. Or try not backing up these folders and let me know how it goes.