This may go without saying but sometimes we get so carried away in thinking that “it’ll never happen to me” that we don’t take the precautions when we need them the most. I want to talk to you about backing up your images as well as give you my favorite places on where I back up to.
When I first started getting into photography, I originally kept everything in my computer. As I needed more space, I invested in a 2 TB drive to throw all my images in. Now for most of my beginning clients back then I usually would make a spare CD of the work but besides that, everything else stayed in that drive.
I would take this drive with me back and forth between home, school, visiting my brother in Florida, and sometimes even other sorts of travel. It was on and off of desks, backpacks, tables, suitcases. Though all of it’s moving though, I thought I kept it pretty well taken care of (but again, so I thought).
This drive carried all of my beginning photography work along with my cross-country trip, out of country trips, personal photos, client photos, art work. Literally everything I had ever taken in a 5-8 year span.
One day I was sitting on my couch at home. I had just come back home from New York to visit family and I had to do some photo work so I went to connect my drive and suddenly the plug in part was jammed. I tried to nicely pull it back out but instead I heard it pop off completely and heard the rattle as it fell into the drive. I was shocked and called my husband telling him what happened. He said he would order a part and figure it out. He’s good with that sort of stuff anyway. Well the parts came in, he worked on the drive, and it just wouldn’t connect. My next plan was to take it to my friend’s dad to see if he could at least pull the work off of it. He had it for 3-5 weeks. At the end of the 3-5 weeks he called me sadly saying my drive had passed away and pretty much exploded. It wasn’t accepting his software no matter what he tried.
I was crushed. All that work was just gone in that instant. I’m pretty sure I had a good cry knowing I’d never see that stuff again minus what ever is actually uploaded on my facebook.
After a couple days of mourning the passing of that work, I told myself it would be okay because I am always changing and getting better. While there were some amazing memories in there, I knew there was already some pictures that I just wondered what I was thinking when I edited or took those photos cause they just looked so horrible now. I was starting photo school which meant new work would be coming, I would be getting better so this might as be my time to start new.
Talking to my brother I learned a few things about backing up my work. And because I have felt this pain, I want to share it with you so that you don’t ever have to feel that as well.
External Hard Drives
One of the first things I learned was that external hard-drive I was using is NOT meant to travel. It is made to sit on a desk and stay there. They are a great source of space and can hold so much work but they are meant to stay on your desk. You’d think that this would be common sense since it usually plugs into the computer AND the wall, but here I still was, moving it all the time. If you have one of these drives, please leave them in a safe place.
Now they do make easier travel sized ones that don’t plug into the wall. These are good but they still can break with extended use. If you get these, I would still try to not be super reckless with them.
If you go this route, a few of my favorite drives are G Drives and LaCie. G Drive has a whole set of professional grade back up software that can get a bit pricey but totally worth it if you can afford it. LaCie has a silver and orange drive that is meant to be real travel savy and it was one of the more popular ones I saw back when I worked in a lab and can also be a little pricey. But again, in this case it’s better to invest a little. WD was great for those years but it is the one that died on me so I am a little weary of them now though it is the most cost effective. Seagate I think also works best for PC as I had some problems with it working with my Mac.
CD/DVD and USB Storage
CD/DVD was a huge way to back things up to me, and honestly one of my favorites when it comes to only saving client work one by one. It was quick and easy to store. The biggest con about it was only that sometimes it couldn’t fit all the work I would want. Sadly this kind of storage is going away. It isn’t around as often and many clients don’t even have laptops anymore that have a spot for a CD. So while this may be a good way to save something just to save it, I wouldn’t let this be your main way of storage as it looks like that in the near future it will be nonexistent.
USB is another favorite. While they might not whole as much as their external harddrive counterparts, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t as good. They can still easily hold your favorite pictures or documents that you hold so dear to you. And the best thing about them is that they are made for travel! If you need to take work with you somewhere, I highly suggest investing in a couple of large USB drives that you can upload your work to and take it where you need to go. USB is one of the ways that I give my work now because of it’s simplicity.
When it comes to a USB you are pretty clear to use almost anything. But if you are looking for what I’d suggest, here are my favorites: LaCie, SanDisk, Kingston, and Lexar.
This is my absolute favorite of all the storage systems. Shortly after my incident with my hard drive I looked into cloud storage. I had previously had it but I didn’t use it very much mostly because 1. I didn’t really know how good it was, and 2. I didn’t want to pay for it. I ended up investing in DropBox for $10 a month and found out I could link it to my phone. Not just link it but I also ended up I could set it up to automatically sync any phone pictures and send it straight to my DropBox! Then I learned how I could access my DropBox anywhere and I was just hooked. Why carry hard-drives and worry about them breaking down one day when it can just be safe in the sky and I could take it out when I needed it? I also found that a lot of clients also had a DropBox so it made it easier when it would come time to send files.
Now while I absolutely LOVE Dropbox, it isn’t the only cloud storage out there. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft also have their own kind of cloud storage. They come in different varieties of storage quantities and prices to suit you best.
So what should you pick?
Honestly I would do a combination. I personally like to have my Dropbox where I organize and throw everything that matters to me that I hope to never loose like last time. Secondly, I own two G Drives that I use to back up all my work again. One I take with me if I need to, and one stays at home. And lastly, I carry a USB drive that I keep in my wallet that right now only has pictures of Riley in it cause I never know when I’ll have to make a sudden print of her cuteness.
When I talk to my clients about backing up their images that they receive from me, I ask them to at least choose two sources whether it be Cloud and USB, USB and HardDrive, or Hard Drive and Cloud. Whatever it may be, I just ask that you choose two sources in case of something happening. I only keep the best work for a year or so before I sometimes go through and do a cleaning and I’d hate for you to loose out on your images due to a sad tragedy that took your images away. I’d just try them all out and see which ones work best with your lifestyle.
Well friends, that was a little long and gritty but I hope that there was some valuable information to help protect yourself and your precious photos. Please invest in at least one or two of these so that you never have to feel the pain of loosing those memories that you hold so dear.