I have never been a paranoid photographer. I do keep a close eye on my equipment and back-up occasionally but all this will now change after my first major computer crisis as a photographer.
On a recent wedding shoot, for some reason, I just could not shake the persistent feeling of doom that reared its head whenever I thought of my files and all my hard work for the day. This led to a very uncharacteristic mass backing-up of files during the day and thank goodness for that as later that week I lost a pc as well as a back-up drive.
This pc crisis has given me a new found respect for those photographers who are near neurotic about backing-up their files and the hours I have had to spend re-editing work that was lost seems to have made me one now as well.
Here are some beginner’s tips on how to back-up your files and make sure you are never left fileless:
Back to basics – If you are just starting out or are simply a hobbyist and don’t have the money to create complicated back-up systems then a simple external hard drive will do the trick.It’s a good idea to get a few smaller drives instead of one large one so that if one drive fails you have not lost all of your data. Alternatively you can get a Dual Drive storage system, like the Western Digital 8TB My Thunderbolt Duo Dual-Drive Storage System, which can be set up to mirror in RAID 1 mode so that even if one drive fails the files are kept safe on the other one.These external back-up drives should also be kept as far away from your pc as possible so that if anything befalls your pc the same won’t happen to the hard drive. You can even keep it at a friend or family member’s house should you feel the need.
Up in the air – Cloud storage is becoming more popular but is still not yet a truly viable method of backing-up photographs for professional photographers with issues like internet speeds and questions like will whether the company will even be around in 15 years making it a bit of a concern.That being said cloud storage is perfectly suited for amateurs and hobbyists giving them the ability to back-up their files via the web and often for free. Dropbox is one of the more popular platforms available and offers you 2GB storage for free with options to buy more. Here is a good article on cloud storage for photographers.
More often than not – As I learned the hard way, you cannot back-up your image often enough. The more often you back-up the more work you will have stored when a pc crashes and believe me, it will.You should get into the habit of uploading your images to your pc and then backing them up immediately. This will save a lot of hassle later on. This will also help you to keep track of what you have backed-up and what you haven’t. Remember to also keep the same naming structure in both batches.
If all else fails – Should you accidentally erase a memory card that you have not yet backed up there is software, which should really be your last resort, that will help you recover deleted files.While this does provide some protection for those blonde moments it will only help you if you deleted the files, not if the drive crashes so remember to back-up!