Although throughout this article we will talk about backing up photographs, you should back up all important files in the same way because of you have issues with your computer you may will lose everything precious to you.
Backing up doesn’t mean just taking photos off your camera and placing them on your computer. Ideally you want to have a minimum of three backup services to prevent any loss of data. Although hard drives today are pretty resilient, and have lifespans of around 10 years (based on 200GB of data transfer a day), they can go wrong, due to simply just stopping working, through software issues and through viruses wiping your data and corrupting your hard drive.
Usually a hard drive will last the life of the computer, and you will replace it because the specifications of the computer are no longer capable of performing the tasks you need. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take backing up seriously.
The ideal backup solution
Ideally, your backup solution should consist of the following system to prevent lots of data:
1: An instant backup as soon as you load your photos to your computer. The easiest and most efficient way in this day and age is set up a folder which automatically sends your photos to a cloud service. You’ll have instant satisfaction that your photos, even if only saved as jpeg, will be safe.
2: An external hard drive or network drive which, at the time of loading your photos into your computer, you also transfer to. This could be a drive always attached to your computer via USB or Network and could be your main external storage.
3: An external drive which you use as and when you can (I usually do this monthly) which is stored away from other equipment in case of theft/fire/water damage etc. You could use this just for the important files, or files you’ve worked on and want to keep.
With this method you have the safest possible backup solution, with copies of your files on a local hard drive, the cloud and a hard drive in a secure place. Making sure at least one of these is an automatic backup makes sure that little extra bit of security.
When you’re first taking your photos off your camera, don’t be lazy and think you’ll backup next time, even if you have cloud copies. You’ll tend to get last, and the amount of times between hard-copy backups will get longer and longer!
What should you backup
Ideally you’ll want to backup all of your files. You’ll never know when you will need them! If you have a lot of family photographs, these are far more important than anything else so keep each and every single one of those.
If you shoot in jpeg and raw it’s up to you what you save. Some people will save all the raw files, but if you are never going to edit the images drastically, there’s nothing wrong with just saving the jpegs and your favourite photos you may want to edit as raw files.
Any other important files should be backed up as and when needed. There’s never seen excuse not to back up if you are connected to a cloud service. I have a “holding area” on my Google Drive where in place files in working on for safe storage of they are important that I find useful.
Storage has come right down in price lately. You can buy 1TB hard drives for as little as £45. Cloud storage can be available from free for certain services, or part of things like Adobe or Amazon. There’s literally endless choice of low price storage now available.
Whatever you decide, remember DON’T count the storage built into your laptop or PC as part of the backup chain. Your computer should just have your programs you need, and any temporary images you need to work on, and never all your photos!
Not enough importance is given to backing up your data. A lot of people think that they will never lose their data, but it does, and will happen. The reality is, somewhere along the line you will have an issue and may lose valuable photographs or documents that you will never recover, and in this day and age, there is simply no reason for it.
When you get the chance, invest in an extra external hard drive if you haven’t already, and make sure that you actually use it. As a bear minimum, use cloud backup, but remember, that if you need to recover your photographs at a later date, it may take you a while to download them if that is your only option.