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Mar, 16 2013

How to Back up Your Photos

So I want to share with you how to back up your photos as there is nothing worse than loosing your precious memories let alone your lively hood if you make money from photography. Most people think back ups are time consuming and a pain but using some software you can do it in just 1 click of a button.

How to Backup You Photos

How to Backup You Photos is an essential part of media management and is a must for all photographers

I initially started writing this article giving you an explanation of all the various types of storage solutions from DVD’s to Cloud Storage but im actually going to skip all of that because there is only 3 options worth mentioning, External Hard Drives, Home Servers and Cloud Storage.

The first 2 External Hard Drives & Home Servers have a flaw though and that’s theft! I cannot re-iterate enough that you should keep a safe backup of your files off site i.e not in the same building as your work or home computer. Just imagine that you have returned from a family holiday for a week in the sun to find your computer and external hard drive backup pinched, ask yourself “Have I got a backup ?” If the answer is no, because they have just been stolen then you need to read on!

You should think of your home computer as the same was as your camera with an SD card in it, if you loose the SD card you cant take no images, if you loose your camera you cant take no images and you have lost the images that were on the SD card prior and if your SD card fails you loose the images you just took. If you think of all the precautions that you take to safeguard your camera and your SD cards you wont go far wrong looking after your media storage either.

The following advice will not be for everyone, some photographers are casual and some are heavy users, so it really depends on how much data you have and how quick your going to be adding more to it.

My personal image collection is 240GB as of today and that is mainly family photos from over the last 15 years and at 240GB its a manageable size to be fair.

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2 simple bits of advice for you:

  1. Make Regular Backups
  2. Keep 3 copies at all time of your files
    • 1 on your main home computer
    • 1 on a backup at home but not stored on your main computer
    • 1 on a backup not at home (off site)

The reason I say 3 copies is to cover all eventualities worst case scenario you will always have a backup. If you follow those 2 simple rules you will be covered for all eventualities of loss, trust me.

Traditional Backup Method

I will explain how I keep my own files backed up.

  1. I keep all of my photography on my main home computer on my D:\ Drive I do not put it on my C:\ Windows Operation system hard drive in-case Windows fails, this way I keep my files and documents separated.
  2. Every 2 weeks I use Sync Toy (see below) and make a backup of my photos, work files and personal files to a Home Server (you could use External Hard Drive) its a simple case for me to switch on my server and sync the files, its no hassle at all.
  3. I will use a Hard Drive Caddy to burn my files to a Hard Drive where I then ask a member of my family to keep safe for me, I do this every month. Again its very easy using Sync Toy, 1 click and wait.

Cloud Storage

Something that I am going to look into is Cloud Storage, Its been around for a few years now but is becoming more and more cheaper, one of the services which appeals to me is Amazon Glacier Service which is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable, which suits me fine for a catastrophic backup plan.

A quick glance at there pricing structure for the UK indicates to me that for 250GB of storage should equate to approximately £16 a month which is not bad for secure backup of that amount. A similar storage plan on Dropbox for 500GB is £33.00 a month but the files will be more accessible. Both still seem expensive though considering a 500GB Hard drive costs £50 these days, so you could just buy a Hard Drive and keep it off site.

Update 18/03/2013

Update on the cloud storage since I posted this article, it has come to my attention from Facebook follower “Graham” that the cheapest current provider for a Cold Storage solution – Cold Storage is classed as a backup facility that you would only require to re-download in an emergency if you lost your files, and is cheaper than the usual cloud storage solutions, because your typical cloud storage is expecting you to access files when ever you like I put this small table together to share the differences these prices are as of March 2013.

Live Drive Amazon Glacier Zoolz
Website Link Live Drive Backup Amazon Glacier Storage Zoolz Storage
Storage Amount Unlimited! As required As required
Example Prices Per Month
1000GB (1TB) £3 £64 £21
500GB £3 £33 £11
250GB £3 £15 £7

So as you can see Livedrive is currently extremely cheap for a all in one backup solution, I would never suggest putting all your eggs in one basket though and solely rely on an on-line backup service, I would still make backups as before and as regular because complacency can be your worst enemy.

I think I will sign up for a Live Drive Backup account and give it a whirl, at £36 a year for extra piece of mind that your work and family memories are backed up else where it seems daft not to.

Sync Toy

If you are a windows user you can use some free software to manage your files for you, its very simple to use once you have it set-up, I just press 1 button and it transfers all my files, overwrites any updates and deletes the old files its great. I don’t understand anyone who says backups are a pain, I just frown !!

Sync Toy 2.1 is a free application that synchronizes files and folders between locations.

Sync Toy 2.1 is a free application that synchronizes files and folders between locations.

There are essentially 3 settings that you can use for Sync Toy for they are:

  • Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.

I use Echo so all my New and updated files overwrite my old ones and if I decide to delete files it will also remove them from the backups too, but you can use any I just find that easier for overall management of my file structure.

Download Sync Toy for free, have a play with it first using some files that your not bothered about, for example make a copy of some images and sync them, then edit a few, delete some and even rename a few then sync again and look at the changes it made to your files, this way you will learn how powerful the program is before committing your precious image library to it!

That’s about it really, I hope I have inspired some one to start making backups of there files!! There is nothing more disappointing that losing precious photos of your children or family so take the time to learn how to make backups now and you wont go far wrong.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, whilst im no data expert I have been doing it for a few years now and have researched many alternative ways of trying to do it the most cost effective way, and whilst Cloud Storage is appealing its far more cheaper to just go buy a 1TB hard drive and store it at some one else house, in fact do 2 or 3 you can never have enough backups!!

About the Author:
I didn't get into photography overnight, it started whilst out walking getting some fresh air, admiring the sunsets and wanting to share them with others. Here I am today posting photographs of my local national park.


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