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Three Key Methods For Backing Up Your Photographs

Tips & Tricks

Zach Egolf is an IT professional and freelance photographer in the Baltimore area. In this guest post, he explains three methods for backing up your files in preparation for the worst possible scenario.


The Importance of Back…Back…Backing Up
reprinted with permission by Zach Egolf

Wandering into the world of photography without a backup plan is a lot like wandering into…well, just about anything blindfolded!  You might think you know the terrain, how to navigate it, and where you’re going, but the next thing you know you’ve wandered into a forest, caught yourself on some thorn bushes, and lost your pants.  And much like losing your pants in an evil forest, losing your photos can be a frightening ordeal.

Egolf

Wandering into the world of photography without a backup plan is a lot like wandering into…well, just about anything blindfolded!

Think of this scenario:

You spend 10 hours shooting the perfect wedding.  The colors are all perfect, the lighting is spot-on, the bride and groom photograph like the two greatest love birds in the world.  You get home to your computer, pull all of the photos off of your memory cards, and then go to bed.  A wedding is a long day, after all, and you want to get your rest so that you can wake up the next morning and start working your magic!

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Don’t let your photos turn into a jar of tears. There are few things more important to a photographer than a good backup solution.

The next day comes along and you start to edit the photos.  Two days pass, you’re halfway through the photos and, all of a sudden, a freak storm rolls through town and zaps your house, frying your external hard drives, and wiping out 10 hours worth of photos.  You have nothing to deliver to your clients except the crisp shell of metal and magnets.  You have that and a jar of tears because you’ve spent the last 24 hours crying away the pain.

Nobody wants to be in a situation where they’re unable to deliver something to their paying clients and that’s why there are few things more important to a photographer than a good backup solution.  It’s important to note that this isn’t so much a sales pitch on any particular company (although, full disclosure: I use BackBlaze and that link is an affiliate link) but rather me urging you to take care of your work no matter what method or company you use.

Here are three ways you can you ensure the physical safety of your photographic property:

  1. Hard Drive Redundancy: HDDs are fairly cheap these days and having a few extras around (like this 1TB Western Digital Drive) can really help you keep track of your photos.  I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your eggs in one basket, so avoid falling into the “Bigger is Better” trap and having all of your photos on a single, large drive.
  2. Cloud Storage: As previously mentioned, cloud backup like BackBlaze  is a great way to make sure your photos are being backed up offsite. One of the greatest benefits of cloud storage is that it often offers multiple ways to restore your data in the event of catastrophe.  You can download the files or, like in the case with BackBlaze, your files can be sent to you on a thumb drive or a hard drive.  Backup is done behind-the-scenes and all you really need to do is stay connected to the service and the internet.
  3. On-Site: This method tends to be a bit more expensive but devices like the Digital Foci Photo Safe II PST-251 500 GB Digital Picture Storage or the Epson P-7000 Multimedia Photo Viewer can really be a lifesaver when you’re shooting a wedding or any all-day shoot and want to make sure your photos are safe and not just on memory cards. They are also much more portable than laptops and handy for vacations.
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Do your clients – and yourself – a favor and give yourself the time and resources to properly back up your images.

The best plan of action is to utilize a combination of all of these but I cannot stress the importance of using at least one of the above-mentioned techniques to keep your photos safe. Backup and storage is so easy and relatively cheap so there really isn’t much of an excuse to take chances anymore.  Do your clients – and yourself – a favor and back, back, back it up!


 Special thanks to Zach Egolf for these tips. Have a favorite backup solution that you use? Have any really  scary stories/cautionary tales about losing images? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

Banner image, “Server028”, by AM + MOCC.

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Alexandria Huff is a portrait photographer based in San Francisco. Her tutorials can be found here on the BorrowLenses Blog, 500px, Shutterfly, Snapknot, and SmugMug. She specializes in studio lighting. Follow her work on 500px.

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Comments

  • Maurice says:

    The thing I use is a netgear ready nas with a 5 hour battery backup on it. I have about 16terabites and it stores my music movies and pictures ready nas also comes with apps and I use a piwigo app to show off my pictures so as long as my battery holds up so will my site and my movies

  • Danie says:

    You must have an off site backup. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. It doesn’t have to be internet based. You can just back up your drives regularly and stash a copy somewhere else. You just never know what can happen that will take out everything at your house or place of business. Fire, flood, lightning, theft…. there are so many things that can take it all in an instant.

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