I’m ashamed I even have to write a post about how important it is to backup all of your photos and Lightroom data. I’m even more ashamed that my own screw-ups have inspired this post.
Way too many photographers are losing data. It seems to state the obvious, but it’s hard to get it back once it’s gone. And by hard, I mean probably impossible. 😀 I’ve been there. It sucks.
Now, I sit on the other side of paranoia. I have to have good backups of my work before I can sleep well at night. Sounds crazy, but when it’s your business hanging over your head, it will stick to your mind.
When it comes to backups, there are a lot of different routes to take. A lot of what you choose has to do with your budget needs. As always, I can only share my personal recipe and you can tweak it to your liking. There are three key parts to my data’s safety, and today I’m sharing my experience.
1) Good Source Data
Too many people keep their computer a complete mess. It puts your data at risk, and makes it harder to perform backups. If the backups are hard to do, how often do you think that you’ll do them?
The problem is that people lose track of things. You really need to think about where you’re storing your data, and how. If you needed to find an important image in 30 seconds, could you do it? With some simple folders, you can get to that level. It just takes planning, time, and a commitment to staying organized.
I would probably drive you crazy with how much time I spend organizing. I use simple folder names with color labels on my Mac.
I’ll give you a bit of controversial advice. There have been times in my life when the best solution was to start fresh. If you have a really messy computer and don’t know your way around the data, maybe it’s time to buy a new computer. Move the absolute essentials over and start fresh. Write down a written plan of how you store
One of the ways that I manage my data is to keep my data separate from the OS. In an ideal setup, we have one hard drive, just for the OS (whether that’s Mac or Windows) and one drive just for the data. It makes backing up that “data drive” easy and less complicated. Something to think about! 😀
2) In-House Backups
The key to having a good backup is to have a good routine! A friend of mine was diligent about backups, but he made a huge mistake. For whatever reason, his data on his desktop computer went corrupt. He kept backing it up to the same folder on an external drive, and thus overwriting each backup. By the time he realized that he had been backing up “bad data”, his “good backup” was long gone.
How good is your backup if you can’t restore it? You need to test backups, and make sure that what you’re backing up is good enough to be restored later. Set a schedule for backups, and keep multiple different backups to ensure you can roll back.
In terms of hardware, you’ll want to purchase an external hard drive. This is just like the hard drive that stores your data inside, except that it’s super easy to add on to the computer and is portable.
I bought this 1TB Western Digital external drive from Amazon to use for my in-house backups. Fast, reliable, and well reviewed. Don’t always spring for the cheapest external hard drive. Everyone has a brand preference for these, but WD hasn’t failed me yet.
On my external hard drive, I have three backups: quarterly, monthly, and weekly. Should my most recent week go bad, I could roll back to the most recent month. Worst case scenario, we jump back to the beginning of the quarter. I put it on my calendar, get a reminder, and start it before going to bed. Easy as pie, right?
3) Offsite Backups
I really hate to talk worst case scenario, but what if your house floods? Or your office gets broken into after hours? First of all, make sure that you have a good insurance policy. Unfortunately, insurance policies can’t cover your data. When it’s gone, it’s gone in almost all cases of physical destruction.
This is why an offsite backup is so important. An offsite backup can mean a lot of different things, such as keeping a hard drive in a safe deposit box. The key here is to keep the data in another physical location so that physical factors are no longer a concern.
In the year 2012, we live in a time where cloud storage is a real technology that millions are using. Putting your data in the cloud is definitely an offsite backup, and I absolutely love BackBlaze for this. You need to click that link and get setup right now! The trial is free and you won’t regret it. (It’s an affiliate link that will pay for my own subscription, just a heads up :D)
I can’t say enough food things about BackBlaze. It’s been a rock solid online backup solution for me, and the low cost can’t be beat.
Backblaze will automatically keep your stuff backed up, and it will even backup your external drives. The storage plans are unlimited and I’ve found it to have the best software around. It’s for Mac and Windows, and that trial is free so you’ve got nothing to lose. It may take several days to backup depending on your speed, but I highly doubt you’ll regret it.
Backups: learn them, do them, love them. 😀 The three steps above that I’ve outlined are a really good starting point for building your own backup plan. Set aside a weekend day sometime soon to get your backup plan down scratch and learn to rest at ease knowing your data is safe!