As I embark into a new season, I am in the process of cleaning up my computer and getting it ready to be filled up by beautiful pictures of couples in 2013. I also wanted to share with you how I backup my work and hopefully stress the fact how important it is to backup your photos. We all think that it’s something that won’t happen to us (of course, until it does) and then we learn the hard way. And this is speaking from experience! In 2010, my HP workstation suffered a hard drive failure and I lost all of my personal photos including my pregnancy journal. After that computer failed two more times, I decided it was enough and bit the bullet to purchase my Mac desktop. Thankfully, no client work was lost. It was heartbreaking to learn that even though I could send in the hard drive to a recovery company, there was no guarantee that it would work - plus the fee was really high and it was a risk that we just couldn’t afford. I have the hard drive and perhaps one day, when we become millionaires (!), I can afford to have it done.
So I learned my lesson the really, really hard way. And hopefully some of these ideas can help you avoid that too!
I backup my work in four different methods, which might be overkill, but I am really not risking it. Some methods might fail too, in which case, I have another backup for that backup.
OK, here goes!
1) Promise Pegasus R4 RAID System
I got this last year at Christmas time and to be honest, I still don’t understand it but I do know it has saved me a number of times already. Once in a while, I will delete something by accident and this little machine helps me to recover it immediately. I use it with Mac’s Time Machine to backup important files on my computer and it updates on a frequency of every few hours. I can’t remember how I set it up but as long as I see those little blue lights blinking and I see my files in the Time Machine application, I know that it’s backing up my stuff! The tower was pretty expensive and is probably way too technical for me, but I am very glad I have it as it has proven it’s weight in gold this past year already. This sort of thing would probably be too much for the regular user but if you run your own creative business where you go through a lot of files or applications, I would highly recommend getting some sort of RAID backup. And preferably someone who knows how to set it up or use it!
2) External Hard drive
I use Seagate external hard drives in 1 - 2 TB amounts to backup client and personal work. I have about 6 of them in a variety of models and have had really good luck with them so far but again, these are electronic devices and could fail at any moment, so I wouldn’t recommend having these as your sole backup for very important files.
3) Amazon S3 Web Services
I am currently using Amazon’s S3 Web Services as an online storage center for client work. I have used a number of other companies in the past including Backblaze and Livedrive and I know of a number of other providers but after a lot of research into it, I decided that S3 would work the best with my needs. Amazon S3 is the same service that the SmugMug Vault uses if any of you photographers out there are SmugMug users looking into online photo storage. Amazon S3 charges on an as-uploaded basis and rates are pretty good. I can pick and choose what I want to store and I can rest easy knowing that once I remove those files from my hard drive, they will stay there. This was the problem I found with a lot of other providers like Backblaze - once I got rid of the files on my hard drive, they would disappear on the online backup and that’s just defeating the purpose. I do not upload any RAW files to this service however, only final work in jpeg.
Yes, I still use these. This is my last line of fire in case everything else fails! Or until DVDs become obsolete. It takes a while and I need to be very organized to make sure that I am getting all my files burned because each disc only holds 4.7 GB of data and a full wedding (from all RAW files to completed high res files and everything in between) can amount up to 100 GB of data. So, yes, that is unfortunately a lot of DVDs. For a while, I was making two copies and I keep one set off-site in case there is ever a fire or other disaster in my home, but I no longer do that as it is far too time consuming and I have other methods of backing up. Now, I just make one copy of EVERYTHING from RAW to high res files. I label the discs with a sharpie and put multiple discs (2-3) into a sleeve for safe keeping. Once the process is complete, I put the DVDs into an Ikea box and label it with the year.
Whew! That’s a lot of work to keep those files organized but just good habits to maintain. I have a simple spreadsheet to make sure that I am completing all of the necessary backups for each client and once everything is complete, I delete the shoot from my desktop.
If you have any questions about backing up your work or personal files, let me know! I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic by any means but it’s something I have thought a great deal about and done a lot of research into.
Files not backed up? Get to it!
Happy Sunday interwebs!