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Photographers Share Their Best Practices for Backing Up

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

Whether you are a professional, amateur or hobbyist photographer, one thing is for certain you’ll want to take care of your digital files and back them up. We talked to a number of photographers and the one thing they all agree on:  Don’t delay, back it up today!

1. Cori Kleckner Photography

Firstly, always back up your data if its important to you. As a photographer, I have the responsibility of storing memories for my clients and my own personal memories as well. I want to preserve these in the case of a catastrophe where I couldn’t take my prints with me or in the case that a client lost their precious images and counted on me or circled back hoping I still have them (likely I do). Backing up your data ensures that personal documents, photos, and other important files are secure in the case your computer’s hard drive crashes or it gets lost or stolen. I thought long and hard about all the ways to keep myself backed up and did research on particularly what photographers, like me, are using to ensure the safety of our memories –  for those of us constantly creating thousands of image files. 

Firstly, I upload all my client galleries using Pixieset these images stay here anywhere from 2-4 weeks. This ensures I can flip back thru galleries that were maybe waiting to hit the blog and ensures enough time for my clients to download their images. For the most important galleries to me, like my own children or family photos- they stay in Pixieset and Printique permanently as extra security of not losing these images. Second, I have tried many external hard drives, MANY. I currently use a MAC and find that some hard drives are super sensitive based on what computer software you are using, that is MAC or Windows PC etc. I keep 3-4 hard drives on me to double triple my backup. The externals I love (and have dropped a considerable amount of times without losing data I shouldn’t fail to mention) is the Toshiba Canvio Basics 2TB Portable.

BUT, if one of these ever fails- my favorite and last form of backup is BACKBLAZE. Backblaze is a data storage provider that mirrors your drive. It is constantly, all day, backing up your data and time stamping for you the last time it was backed up. Once you set it all up, you don’t have to do anything as it does all the work for you. Also, the storage capacity is mind-blowing. It can hold millions of large files, without exaggeration- unlike many hard drives that fill so fast you end up buying so many of them to stay backed up . It is also very affordably proved, transparent and straightforward. 

2.  Roger Vaughn Photography 

As a freelance sports photographer shooting local high school and DIII college teams, I shoot a lot of images every week.  I save my original full resolution images from the current sports season to an on-site image server that I built myself containing a total of 16TB of hard drive space. I also keep the best images from the previous years’ sports season on my image server as well.

All of my images back up automatically to Google Drive and Google+ Photos. All Google accounts come with 15GB of free storage and you can increase the size of your Google Drive storage in incremental amounts at affordable monthly costs. One TB of storage space is only $9.99 a month. The nice thing about Google Drive is that any image smaller than 2048 pixels on the longest side does not count toward your Google Drive storage allotment, so in theory, the number of images you can backup is limitless if the image size is kept under 2048 pixels. Google+ Photos backup app lets you set that option in the settings.

Google Drive is handy for me. Since I travel a lot I never have to worry about access to my image archive when a sports editor needs an image. My archive is available wherever I have an internet connection by just accessing my Google account.

3. Robert Caplin Photography

Backing up data in the digital age is a critical part of my workflow. I currently have a very redundant method. I currently have a large capacity RAID 5 system with 40TB of space. RAID 5 means if one drive fails in the system, I can pop in a new one and the data is still intact.  Additionally, I back up all the folders onto individual non-RAID drives and store them in a different location….in my case in my mother’s basement in Ohio. That way if my RAID were for some reason to fail, flood, earthquake, theft, etc, I still have a backup off-premises. I also use PhotoShelter to upload all my selects, which I deliver to clients. You can get various plans, even ones with the unlimited capacity to back up all your image files, jpgs, RAWS, etc. on PhotoShelter’s servers, which are also located on the East and West coasts…so those files are also safely backed up. The best part about PhotoShelter is that you can build your websites, easily deliver high-resolution photos through the web or the iPhone app, sell your images, and much, much more. Lastly, I use iCloud Drive to backup my computers and devices, including all the images taken on my iPhone.
For personal photos, I upload them to Printique. They offer unlimited and free storage.

 4. Saul Blumenthal  

The goal of my backup scheme is to have my personal photo collection stored on several hard drives, in multiple locations. It is not important that I be able to access any particular photo from anywhere.

I have a 1.5TB external drive always connected to my Mac, that serves as my “master” archive; I then have two internal 1.5TB drives and a USB enclosure. At any given moment, one of these drives is inside the enclosure and mounted on my computer and the other is in a safe deposit box at the bank. Whenever I update the master drive, I use the utility SuperDuper! to mirror the drive inside the enclosure. Every two weeks (usually a Saturday morning) — occasionally longer if life gets in the way or if I haven’t been shooting much — I go to the bank with the internal drive from the enclosure and swap it with the drive in the safe deposit box. When I get home I mount the drive in the enclosure and I sync it up with the master drive.

If either of the internal drives fails — as happened once — I can get a new drive and restore it from the master drive. If the master drive fails, I can get a new one and restore it from the internal drive. If both drives in my home fail or are destroyed, I have lost at most my photos from the past two weeks.

After 10 years and 50,000 photos, I have only half-filled the drives. When I do get close to filling the drives, I can add extra drives to the mix or start using larger drives.

Of course, my ultimate backups are the many photo books I have designed and had printed over the years. And of course, Printique offers free unlimited storage, which is perfect for both personal and professional pictures.

5. Quay Hu

What makes me different is my fast turnaround so I focus on editing first than I will back up. I have a few ways to back up my files. I back them up on a portable hard drive and then on to the cloud. The best and cost-effective cloud service is Backblaze.com. It’s $50 a year for unlimited files. I also back up my personal photos to Printique as they offer free and unlimited storage.
I also have 10 SD cards that I rotate between so my files stay on my cards until its time to format them. Essentially it’s backed up 3x until the SD cards are formatted. The key is to stay organized and continue this workflow.

Of course, there is one sure true way to make sure your images are backed up — print them. Your photo books, poster prints, metal prints and canvases will never crash on you.
What other tips do you have to archive your photos?