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Up for Discussion – Backing Up

This post today is written by me and has come out of something that recently happened to me.  It was something that was scary and has reminded me of how important it is not to keep all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.  Today’s Up for Discussion is going to address how important backing up can be.

I started taking photos seriously with a DSLR, I don’t know about 5 years ago, when I was taking photos of cycling.  My daughter was cycling, so I started taking photos of her and a few other people, then it progressed to me taking photos nearly every weekend at some cycling event or another.  During the weekends it could be nothing for me to take two or three thousand photos.  I think the most I ever toscmu2-4hpm2487-7-3ok in one day was three thousand.  I was also selling them, so I had to have a back up of all my photos.  I became very concerned about it.  About 10 years ago I had a hard disk in a computer die.  My husband, Dave, had never felt my stuff was worth backing up, so he never put anything into place.  It isn’t a good feeling, I think it is a bit like being robbed, for months you remember new things you lost. He changed his tune after that.

So  for the cycling photmurraysunset-pinklades-salt-bush-wateros, he bought two external drives, one the main one, the other the back up. Then they started filling up, so he did some investigations and decided to get a NAS.  Now don’t ask me to explain what it is, but it sits near the tv, has 4 drives in it, and is connected to the network, so anyone in the house can have access to it.  I can see photos from it from either computer.  When I am done with photos, I back them up onto the NAS, the images go on one disk and then they are automatically backed up onto another one.  It has been a great system, though I have worried about something happening with the NAS, like the house burning down, or it being stolen.  I have been trying to decide what to do.

We have 4 TBs of storage in the NAS and we filled them up.  Not just with my photos, but other things as well.  That is what caused the problems, we think.  We had purchased some more space in it, but Dave had been waiting for me to get LeanneCole-citylight-1404054920_HDRthings done first, and I was slow, I admit it.  Then when he finally started looking at the NAS, he made an announcement, “the NAS was dead”.  Who said men aren’t melodramatic?  I told him it better not be because I had 5 years of work on it, and I didn’t want to lose any of it.  He was a bit flippant about it, I have to say, not really sure he takes what I do seriously.

After putting in the other disk we had purchased, and a bit of mucking around he was able to get all my photos from the back up and it looks like I didn’t lose anything.  I think sometimes being married to a programmer can be more of a burden, they can do things in more complicated ways, and really if something happened to him, well, I would just about lose everything any way, I don’t knoleannecole-thea-20131116-1477w how to do things on the NAS.

Now, sorry, it is a long post today, but the end of it is that I really need to make sure I have better back up systems in place. I had quite a few sleepless nights last week, and I don’t want that to happen again.

I have been thinking, that while I have the NAS, I need to look at other things as well, so I don’t have all my eggs in one basket.  I have now purchased a 4TB external drive, and my photos are on it as well now.  I am going to leave that with a friend at her house.  Then in about a month I will purchase a second one, and then start swapping them over.  That way if something happens here, then leannecole-klara-7353-4she will always have a fairly up to date drive with my photos on it.  So far I have filled over 2TB.  I think I also need to be pickier about what I save.  I shouldn’t save everything, some of the photos are no good and I know I will never use them.

The other thing I have been looking at is the possibility of using some form of internet storage.  I haven’t made up my mind, though if I do, I will just start it from now and possibly only put photos that are really important to me.

I thought I would ask some people here on the internet what they thought.  I asked 4 guys who I think take a lot of photos.  I also thought that sometimes men and women do think differently about this and it might help to get a different view on it.

I asked Victor Rakmil.

My back-up system is relatively straight forward. Here’s the explanation:

“I put effort into taking my photographs and processing them. I worry about the possibility of losing them. To solve the back up problem I use external mobile drives, not my computer hard drive. I import my photos into Lightroom in the DNG format, with copies in the original Nikon NEF format, to a second external drive (that way if by chance DNG is no longer a viable format I have my original Raw files). As I work on my files I copy the DNG drive to a third back-up drive and put that drive in a safe place. In the end I have three copies of all of my photos. With one set off-site.  Which reminds me, I have a drive to copy and take to the bank.  :)”

Victor also gave me a link to a page talking about this and it had a survey asking people what they do.  Photo Backup Survey

I asked Robin Kent.

On the subject of back-up, my approach is not particularly exotic, but it is one way to protect one’s image files from various disasters.   The cost of storage is relatively cheap today which helps because the size of my inventory is approaching4 Terabytes. My starting point is the computer platform which has three internal hard drives, and four external drives.  I no longer use a NAS solution, although I do have an Ethernet network with NAS capability.

laurent-melbourne-littlecollins-building-monochromeOne of the two internal drives is a 512 MB solid state drive (SSD) where Photoshop resides and processing occurs.  All image files, whether processed or not, are stored on the second internal hard drive, a 4 TB hard drive which is the Master Drive.  At this point I have 1 copy of my inventory.  From here the tactic is to create additional copies in case the prime drive fails.

The Master Copy is backed up using the standard Apple Time Machine back-up software. This is the Back-up drive (3rd internal drive) and would be used if a file restore is needed.  However, some experts feel that the Apple system is not totally reliable, so I don’t consider this drive as one of my copies.  I also have a simple back-up software application with an automatic schedule to make copies each day of my image files on two separate external 4 TB hard drives.  It adds new files since the last copy and records any changes made in existing files.  So at any given point in time, I have three connected copies on-site, two of which are no older than 24 hours.

The third step is off-site storage.  Mechanical failure is not the only danger, only the most likely one.  It doesn’t matter how many copies you have in your building if something happens to the building.  If I happen to be here when that event occurs, I could quickly detach the two external drives and leave, not something I could have done with my rack-mounted NAS drive.  But chances are I won’t be here.  So I have two additional 4TB drives which are stored in a separate location (my wife’s office) office about 10 miles away.  They are refreshed once a month.

I don’t use any of the “Cloud” services as a back-up solution because they are not reliable, nor secure despite their claims, and are subject to policy changes at any time.

I ask Benjamin Rowe as well.

Backing up files can become an obsessive compulsive, although there is no perfect solution, anything can go wrong. I happen to work with two computers and part of my back up process lets me share the files across the two.

On my main computer I import my raw files to my second drive. When I have finished editing those files are archived on to an external hard drive. DNG copies of my raw files are also backed up on my cloud storage where I have access to them on my laptop. Also once I have finished editing I export full size Jpegs to a different cloud storage service and burn them onto DVDs.

LeanneCole-Alannah_AliceWhen traveling I pack two external drives; one that I can download images to while out shooting and another that I can copy the files to. I will also download them onto laptop for organising and editing. Backing up also takes place on my phone with all my pictures being backed up to the cloud and then once a month backed up to a hard drive. In case drives fail I have a recovery program that I can use to help rescue my files.

I tend to use different drives as well as different cloud storage services because if one fails there is another. I haven’t started using multiple drives backing each other up automatically, but I can see myself doing that in the future. What I need to work out is how to have access to files when there is no electricity.

Finally I asked Ray Laskowitz.

I was exchanging emails with Leanne when she mentioned that she almost lost five years worth of work when her backup system failed. Luckily, her husband is a computer analyst so he’s been able to help her recover her files.

That’s scary. Very scary. And, I completely understand. I’m a Hurricane Katrina survivor. No. I didn’t go through all the scenes you may have seen on your news stations. I left a day prior to the storm making landfall. Even back then, I backed up my work on multiple sources. At the time I used external hard drives and CDs. I packed the hard drives into small Anvil cases and packed them securely in the car. I thought that was the right thing to do. It wasn’t.

Every one of of those external hard drives broke. I didn’t lose the data. But, the software that provides the connection to the computer was damaged. The computer could not find the hard drives when I tried to mount them. I was able to retrieve the data at a rather large cost.

I vowed that would never happen again.

Here’s what I learned. External hard drives are great… if they are portable. There’s a big difference between external desktop models and a small portable hard drives. Desktop hard drives are essentially the same hard drives that are used in a desktop computer. They are meant to stay in one place. Portable hard drives are very similar to the ones the are used in laptops. They can to be moved. I learned one more thing. Bigger is not necessarily better. For instance, according to statistics kept by the folks who monitor such things, 4 TB hard drives are almost three times likely to fail than 1 TB hard drives. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the heat they generate as well as length of time in hard service — being used every day.

I also looked into RAID and NAS systems. They actually have pretty high failure rates. That’s fine if a hard drive breaks since they are supposed to be redundant. But, if the main link breaks, you run into the problems that Leanne had.

Of course there are CDs and DVDs, but they corrupt a lot faster than anybody anticipated unless you use gold media. That’s costly and you still really should back up your files twice. Besides, hard ware changes. You should reborn discs every few years.

Of course there are clouds, which are really just offsite servers. I use them, but don’t really trust them completely. Electricity can fail. Internet service providers can fail. I use them. But, not exclusively.

milkyway-sorrento-stars-back-beach So, here’s what I do.

I mix and match. I use two portable 1 TB hard drives at the same time. Once they are filled — not to their maximum storage capacity because that can cause problems too — one goes offsite to a safe deposit box, the other stays with me. I also use two clouds only for master files, one from Apple. The other from Adobe.

Here’s why.

It’s about workflow. There is no one correct workflow. What you organize depends on what photograph and how you work in the field. I download my RAW files to both portables. I put a third set of files on my desktop. Those are the ones I curate and edit. Those files become my masters. They also are uploaded to both portables and the clouds. Once that’s done, they are the files I experiment with… the ones that you might see on my blog, Storyteller. They go onto both hard drives as well.

When I’ve finished with everything, I have two sets of RAW files. Three sets of masters and two sets of experimental files. The funny thing is that I come from the film era. In those days, we had one set of “files.” Negatives and slides. Collections were big and bulky. They were very hard to move in the event of some disaster. Today, we have multiple back up methods. Use as many as you need.

Thank you to those guys, they have similar things, and some things are different.

I know this has been a long post, but it is an important post, and it is something that all of us photographers should be thinking about.  Do you want to risk losing everything? Do you have a backup system in place?  Is it good enough? I will try and answer questions, but I am hoping that Victor, Ben, Robin and Ray might pop in from time to time and answer questions.  I might even be able to get Dave to give some advice, you never know.

The photos I have put in this post are some of the ones I would have lost if I had not been able to recover my images.  They are some of my favourites, and some you have seen a few times.

 

190 Comments
  1. Thanks for the post. It is very important to back up. Currently I back up to two external hard drives from my dslr. I also started using box.com and iCloud to back up my phone along with the computer.

    October 17, 2014
    • I think the trick is to use several different things, think of everything bad that could happen and make sure you are covered.

      October 17, 2014
  2. Gotta back everything up! Great thoughts, Leanne. I recently lost years worth of my kids’ stuff but that was my fault. And they were not backed on other drives either. Duh.

    October 17, 2014
    • It is terrible, when my hard disk died I lost a lot of stuff, but it was when digital was relatively new, so not too many photos.

      October 17, 2014
  3. I have two big external drives plus I save photos onto both my laptop and desktop drives. Even so, I’m considering getting one more really big external drive to back up the back ups. I’ve lost hard drives, too. And computers. My computers take a pounding. As they have gotten older, they get glitchy. Anything I use on WordPress is also on their server, but that won’t help me much because we can’t download from the WordPress server. Many photographers I know pay for secure online storage. I’m considering it too. I hate spending the money, but there aren’t unlimited choices. I guess we all need to pick one or two.

    October 17, 2014
    • The online storage can be quite expensive, I looked into it too Marilyn. I think part of the trick is having something off site, so at friends or a bank whatever, so if you lose stuff in your house, for whatever reason, you are covered. I am spreading out my options now.

      October 17, 2014
      • Leanne makes a good point here about the cost of online storage solutions and also about having a secure off-site location. The other consideration with commercial (“cloud””) is there is no way to predict when a company will decide to get out of that business.

        October 17, 2014
      • Yes, I was shocked at the price. Way more than I can afford. I guess I’ll have to NOT burn my house down.

        October 18, 2014
      • They can be Marilyn, though I guess it comes down to how much are your photos worth, having a small hard drive to put, even just important stuff on is better than nothing, and something you can grab in hurry if you need to.

        October 18, 2014
  4. lensaddiction #

    Proper backup procedure is all about REDUNDANCY ie having multiple copies of drives so that if one fails there will be a copy there to take its place.

    If you have a NAS then the sensible way to set it up for redunancy is to use RAID 1 which mirrors the drives – ie you put 2 x 2TB drives is but only one is accessible to you as the other one instantly copies everything over to the second one

    The problem with this is it is expensive because you have to have twice as many drives but the benefit is, usually only one drive will fail at a time, and if you have the RAID setup then the second drive just carries on without missing a beat, you can replace the faulty drive and you DONT LOSE ANY SLEEP OVER IT.

    I have 3 separate RAID 1 arrays, two in my computer and one in my NAS. I recently moved all my files out to the NAS but Lightroom seems to work a lot slower, so I think I will use it as an archive and install my images initially on my PC – I have a couple of years capacity on those HD so that will keep me going.

    Cloud is a bit problematic in this part of the world, its expensive and slow. Also if you are a photographer with 5 years of files you want to upload that could take YEARS LOL or you can pay some services to send you a hard drive you can put your files on and they send back.

    Backup is very important in our digital age, and I have had drives fail but because I am paranoid and had mirrored raid arrays set up I have been lucky. If my house burns down then I will lose everything, and I need to consider doing an offsite backup option like Leanne talks about. External hard drives are cheap

    BTW for people travelling I recommend the Adata HD710 rugged drives, I have had 2 of these myself travelling to Australian, all round NZ and in my handbag for years and they must be 4 years old now and still going strong. They are USB 3 and come in a max to 2TB and quite affordable.

    October 17, 2014
    • I think the redundancy thing is the bit that gets people confused. We had one drive in it fail, but yes, everything was still there on the back up and we have recovered it all.

      I agree about uploading files to cloud, I would only do it with recent stuff now, or from now. Still, it can work out to be quite expensive.

      I have been scared enough now, and my 4TB is ready to go to someone’s home now, and I will feel a lot better when it does.

      Thanks for the tips on those drives, I”m sure people will appreciate that.
      My husband read this and said you explained it well, so thank you Stacey, appreciate it.

      October 17, 2014
      • lensaddiction #

        One scare is usually enough to make people pay attention, its lucky this time you didnt lose data, its not normally the case. YAY for geek husbands 🙂

        The problem with redundancy and RAID is that it is an advanced level of hard drive and data management and most people don’t even know its an option so don’t know to ask about it when they buy a computer.

        Also they tend to be price focussed when purchasing and a lot of people selling computers aren’t as technically skilled as they might be either. Add in a preference for people to buy mobile devices – tablets and laptops- then you also don’t have the capability or SPACE in the device to put a second hard drive.

        But all professional shooters I know have storage storage and more storage – one guy even has a fire proof safe under the floor in his house which is where he stores his archive hard drives. I have considered that as an option too 🙂

        October 17, 2014
      • I was lucky and yes, yay for geeky husbands.
        You are right about using those systems, they are advanced, not sure I fully comprehend how they are used, actually I know I don’t. Dave does, so he will have to stick around or I’m stuffed.
        We have set it up slowly, so we started with some stuff and have added to it as time has gone on, no idea how much it has cost, but, we will soon have 7TBs of storage, so will be a while before we fill up again, I hope.
        I think you can never have enough storage, I thought about the doing fire proof safe for my negatives, but never got around to it, maybe I should consider it again.
        Thanks Stacey.

        October 17, 2014
  5. I am similar to Victor. I back-up everything as DNG, twice. I store on two different external multi-TB mobile drives. Nothing is ever stored on my hard drive. This was very fortunate as I completely lost my operating system about six weeks ago. I have well over 15,000 photos, so it could have been a disaster.

    October 17, 2014
    • The only photos I keep on my computer are the ones I am using, then they all go onto the NAS, I don’t have enough space on laptop to keep all my photos there.

      October 17, 2014
  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    That was a great discussion. I am married to a computer guy too, and yes, they do things in odd ways. 🙂 I have documents in the same way you have photographs but I don’t need near as much space as you need. My husband gave me an external hard drive and I do backups occasionally and before that it was CDs and so on. I use cloud storage for WordPress photos and haven’t lost a thing yet.

    The odd thing is that something can always go wrong. Things break and wear out. In my early days when I was only beginning – about 1990 – we were hit by lightning. That single bolt of lightning killed my computer and several other things. I think what I’m saying is that a backup of all you have backed up is the best option, whatever your method. 🙂

    October 17, 2014
    • They do things differently don’t they Jackie.
      I think the thing I am worried about the most is something happening to the house, so I wan’t some stuff off site. I think a few back ups is great, that way if one fails, you still have things. well for me, and that gives me peace. I am glad you are backing up Jackie. Thanks

      October 17, 2014
  7. Excellent, timely article. I use a single external hard drive, but have been intending to get another. Your post prompts me to quit procrastinating. Thank you!! ~SueBee

    October 17, 2014
    • I am glad to hear that SueBee, I want to hear that you have got that second one. 😀

      October 17, 2014
  8. I think a lot about how to safely back up my photos. Not necesserily because they are that great but because many of them are my memories. A friend of mine suggested that apart from the external hd I should burn them on dvds. He said when you connect the external hd the viruses can be transferred easily between laptop and hd and vica versa through the usb connection. I havent got as much photos as you so the hd and dvd system works well for me. Plus i started resizing the pictures and select them with a little bit more of a critical eye. Also I find google+ as a good backup my phone pics get downloaded automatically and I do the same with the camera photos. Sorry for the long comment Leanne 😉

    October 17, 2014
    • The problem with DVD’s is how long they last for, I have CD’s with photos that were done 10 years ago and the photos are there anymore, they degraded too much. I would just make sure your computer is kept virus free. My laptop is now only allowed to be used for specific things. If I want to do some things, I have to use my Linux machine, and having said that, the NAS and external drives I have are driven by linux. NOt long at all Anthea, this is all about discussion, so good to hear from you.

      October 17, 2014
      • Leanne’s concern over the longevity of DVDs is well worth considering. There are a variety of quality levels, so you can never be certain. Another is the ever changing formats for this type of media. Remember floppy disks, zip drives, tape drives? Plus, you don’t have the automated duplication/backup features that can be set up with hard drives (whether internal, external, or NAS) so backing up is a manual process that can easily succumb to procrastination.

        October 17, 2014
  9. I use 2 1TB extrnal drives as well and back up online as well. Having lost photos before it is well worth the time and effort.

    October 17, 2014
    • It certainly is, it is such a horrible feeling when you lose them. Thanks.

      October 17, 2014
  10. Very helpful post! I have been fretting about how best to backup my files. Great ideas. Thanks.

    October 17, 2014
    • I’m glad we could help Cheryl.

      October 17, 2014
  11. Very good article and oh so important to think about before a failure. I have a DROBO RAID and multiple externals – one in a fire proof box – all externals are in rotation – plus DVD burns of all my NEF and PSD images.

    October 17, 2014
    • Thanks Robert. I haven’t done things on DVD, isn’t it like CD’s and they degrade, so I stay away from them. I had a heap of images on CD’s and when I went back a few years later there was nothing on them anymore. I would be careful doing that.

      October 17, 2014
  12. you are lucky to have an in-house expert! thanks for sharing your story and for sharing the feedback (and all of those lovely images that might have been mia forever. those night sky ones are especially stunning.

    z

    October 17, 2014
    • I am, though if anything happens to him, I will be in trouble. You’re welcome, I think it is something that is really important, and I know this from personal experience now. Thank you, I know, when I thought they were gone I felt sick in the stomach.

      October 17, 2014
  13. Thank goodness ‘you’re’ still alive Leanne! Just bought a ssd meaning i’ ve lost some of my work. Today i realized my external hdd perhaps wont survive another fall from the bass box (what a great spot lol)

    Its backup time 🙂

    October 17, 2014
    • It certainly sounds like it is Pieter, I hope to hear that you have done it soon. It is very sad to lose work, I hated it when it happened the first time, I never wanted to go through it again.

      October 17, 2014
  14. Thank you Leanne – this rather shook me as I just keep all my photos on two separate hard drives – no other backup!!!

    October 17, 2014
    • I work on the theory now Diana, that you can’t have too many back ups.

      October 17, 2014
  15. Thanks for that leanne! A timely reminder for me as my backup is a hotchpotch. : ))

    October 17, 2014
    • I’m glad Trees, and I hope you get it all sorted soon.

      October 17, 2014
  16. I have a 4TB external drive and a 750GB external drive. The other two drives died. I’ve only lost all my work once, several years back when I stored everything on my desktop. My 4TB external has been making funny noises lately, so I started putting all my important images on Google Drive. I think Microsoft has Cloud Storage as well, so I’ll look into that. If I lose the work I have now…I’d have to go to the insane asylum. So…it’s time consuming, but the alternative is worse.

    And yes, delete the photos that you don’t use because you’ll probably find you have more space than you thought and you’ll save TIME transferring files from one storage to the other.

    October 17, 2014
    • I looked into all that internet storage, but it gets to be expensive after a while, cheaper to buy External drives and make lots of copies to spread around.
      I do need to do that, the deleting, it is just that it is going to be such a massive job. Would be good if you could do it through bridge or something. Thanks Eric.

      October 17, 2014
      • lensaddiction #

        Leanne you can use cloud services to manage your backups to external drives – Backblaze has that facility. When I was researching clound one of the services allowed you to backup to a friends PC f the drives are online with other peoples computers. So you could use a friends PC to back your stuff out to that via the cloud and I think it was free. Was a couple of years ago tho 🙂

        October 17, 2014
      • I don’t know that I have any friends that would allow me to do that, I think they would be worried that I would fill it up LOL. They know what I’m like. I feel better know that I have another copy off site now, and I might see about getting another one as well. That will be good. 😀

        October 17, 2014
  17. Useful.

    October 17, 2014
  18. Very useful reminder to be disciplined and not complacent about back ups, even if you are not a pro… The same lessons apply for amateurs like me. I would be devastated if I lost my images. It’s part of you isn’t it? Great to get different perspectives too, especially about the use of the Cloud vs portable drives. Thanks Leanne.

    October 17, 2014
    • They do Chris, and we are all very close to our images, they are very precious. It is a horrible feeling.

      October 17, 2014
  19. Good discussion Leanne and thanks. I have back up to two external drives, but do not really know what they are doing! One other idea you mentioned in passing – cull the ordinary – is probably a good start.

    October 17, 2014
    • Thank Andy, it is good to know what they are doing, Dave has set up heaps of stuff for me, which is great, I’d be stuffed if he wasn’t around. He has also set up the external ones with software for updating them as well. Should be a good system, I hope. I agree, culling is definitely something I have to start doing.

      October 17, 2014
  20. Thank you for a very thought-provoking post and for positing different solutions. I’ve lost files, including photographs, twice before for different reasons but both times it was devastating. I have my photos on hard drive on the PC and backed-up on a portable external hard drive. I print photos for albums so my best photos are also held online by the companies I use for printing. But that’s it. I’m only a hobbyist photographer so I can’t justify the financial investment to do something ultra secure but certainly I need to do something to improve the security of my files. This post has given me some options to research.

    October 17, 2014
    • You’re welcome Papict, it is good to think about backing up. It is so horrible losing stuff. You should look into something though, like Flickr lets you have 1TB for free, and your images don’t have to be public. Flickr might let you have more than that. Dropbox is also free up to a certain amount. So there is something if you don’t have a lot. I am glad it has got you thinking.

      October 17, 2014
  21. 1st, the shots are great and 2nd I feel an external drive is the best for backing up. I recently moved a ton of photos off my hard drive onto a 4TB external drive and not only do I have more space but my laptop runs much better. It is easy to retrieve the photos from the ex. drive too.

    October 17, 2014
    • Oh yes, Cate, much better not to keep the images stored on your computer or laptop, I keep them on there for while and then I move them all to the NAS. I go back to the NAS when I want older images. My computer isn’t big enough to keep too many photos on there. I need to move a heap now. Thank you too for what you said about the images.

      October 17, 2014
  22. Hi, Leanne: This is an excellent post. I think the most telling point was your gallery at the very end, showing all those beautiful images that would have been gone forever had they not been recovered.I thought all three of the other contributors made a number of excellent points. Victor raised the issue of certain file formats suddenly becoming obsolete, so he is protecting himself against that possibility. Benjamin reminded us that this issue is particularly relevant when we are traveling. He also raised the issue of an electric power failure which can hurt you two ways. One if it happens while you are working, the other if you have no electric power for an extended period and cannot do any work. My approach is a UPS/power conditioning system that ensures the circuits to which my computers and hard drives are connected will not be interrupted by a sudden but short-lived outage to the house. The UPS units are backed up by a stand-by generator that kicks in within a minute or two of any power outage to the house. It is not a whole-house generator, just covers the key circuits so we can get by until power is restored. Ray made some great points about the various failure points in all of these systems and I especially took note of his advice about portable hard drives vs. standard external drives. So again, thanks Leanne for putting this together.

    October 17, 2014
    • Thank you Robin, I thought that was a good way of demonstrating what I could’ve lost. I can’t imagine not having power, and it isn’t something that I have worried about. We lose power for short periods, but that is it. I asked my husband about the external drives being not good for moving around and didn’t think it was the case, that they were made for that, maybe it depends on brands. Though what RAy said about the NAS isn’t quite true, we actually had no problems getting to the back up, all the photos were recovered, Dave just needed to do some research and then away he went, so no problem.
      You’re welcome Robin, I think that is what these up for discussion posts can be really good for.

      October 17, 2014
      • What part about NAS isn’t true? That they fail? Hmmmm… of course HDs within NAS/RAID systems fail. That’s why they are redundant. That doesn’t mean the data is lost. It means that you have to perform work arounds to retrieve the data. As far as externals and being moved goes, that’s pretty much common knowledge. Even HD manufacturers acknowledge that. Pricing alone should confirm it.

        October 17, 2014
      • It is the concept of the redundant and what it actually means, and people get confused with what it means in reference to a NAS. Redundant sounds like it is no longer any good, which isn’t the case with these. Though I don’t really understand the whole process, Dave had no trouble doing it, it was just a bit of time for them to copy.

        October 18, 2014
  23. Leanne, most of what was discussed in this post is Greek to me. I do though, back up all my work on external hard drives called a WD My Passport. I try to get in the habit, when I upload my originals into Photo Shop, to back them up right away to my Passport. I have no other means of backing up other then this. To think I should perhaps make a double of what I have boggles my mind. Yet there are some really good ideas in this post like leaving a hard drive in a deposit box. That’s secure. My husband is a computer programmer as well, and when he did research the Passport is what he came up with. So far I have had no issues with it. Love, Amy

    October 17, 2014
    • I haven’t heard of that Amy. Though just getting a second hard disk to store images on can be a great idea Amy, and yes, if you have access to a deposit box, why not. I like the idea of having things in several baskets, that way if one thing fails, then I have something else as well. Take care Amy.

      October 17, 2014
    • I’m familiar with the Western Digital Passport. I have a couple of its smaller (500GB) models attached to a workstation I use for film scanning and they have been fine. Amy might want to look into an automated copying software package such as Carbon Copy Cloner if there isn’t one already sitting on her computer. They can have a scheduled run time (daily, weekly, etc.) and then it happens on a regular basis.

      October 17, 2014
      • Thank you, Robin. I will bring this to hub’s attention for he is the computer whiz in the family. (((HUGS))) Amy

        October 18, 2014
      • Hi, Amy. Thanks, he knows your system well, so that makes good sense.

        October 18, 2014
  24. It would be terrible if you lost all these lovely photos Leanne. I must say that I enjoyed looking at your collection today.

    October 17, 2014
    • It was so devastating when I thought I had Colline, I had a huge pit in my stomach, such a nerve wracking time as I waited to find out if I was going to get them back. Thanks Colline, it is nice to go back from time to time.

      October 17, 2014
  25. Great info. Right now – I back up to two external drives and take one to work. I’m considering a third solution – using cloud storage. I’d be interested to know if anyone has experience with Dropbox or One Drive

    October 17, 2014
    • That is a great idea, unfortunately I work at home, but I am happy to say that one set of my photos is now off site and I don’t need to worry about them anymore. I have used Dropbox for a while now, I find it good, but I haven’t really used it for storage, it is a great way of getting photos to other people. I haven’t heard of One Drive.

      October 17, 2014
      • One Drive is part of Microsoft Office. If you purchase Office 360 – you get some storage free. I’ve used Drop Box a little. We use it at work too for document storage. It appears to be a good platform thus far

        October 18, 2014
      • I don’t have Office, I use free software on Windows for all that stuff. I use Dropbox more as a way of getting photos to someone. Thought about it for storage, but it works out to be quite expensive.

        October 18, 2014
    • Like Leanne, I use Drop-box, but not for back-up. it is an excellent way to transfer files between individuals and companies and under their current pricing scheme, it is not too expensive as long as you need less than 1 TB. Unfortunately, for those of us with 4-plus TB, the cost gets to be an issue. In fact, you can get a pair of pretty big external hard drives for the cost of 1-2 years of Dropbox. OneDrive is a Microsoft product. Interestingly, the Sydney Morning Herald had an article on this subject a couple days ago. Here is the link: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/imaging/comparing-cloud-storage-on-icloud-google-drive-and-onedrive-20141015-10ro22.html.

      October 17, 2014
  26. Nelson #

    Interesting …….. I have no backup plan right now but it has been in my mind for a few weeks. I think the comparison you made between loosing your file and those stolen from you is quite right, in both cases they ar gone forever

    October 17, 2014
    • Oh yes Nelson, you need to get onto it right now. It is the same I think, losing or being stolen, it is still lost forever. Thanks Nelson.

      October 17, 2014
  27. we take our external hard disk on holidays with us. Because my wife is a writer she emails he book manuscripts to herself so that if she loses the computer she can get them of the email server (not a option for 4tb of photos though) 😉

    October 17, 2014
    • No not really, but when I go away I am going to start getting some small portable drives for my photos, so they are on more than one thing. Thanks.

      October 17, 2014
  28. An extremely important point about back ups. I recently thought I’d mistakenly deleted an entire partition’s worth of new photos. Twenty minutes of sweating and I found luck on my side, the photos fine. I do still have to get organized though!

    October 17, 2014
    • You do sweat don’t you, I really hate that feeling, and I’m glad you got yours back. Yes, getting organised is key. Thanks.

      October 17, 2014
  29. A great post, thanks for sharing. I have been using an external hard-drive to save all of my works (photographs, drawings, paintings, digital art). I’m getting to a point where picking up a second one is necessary. I use the Toshiba Canvio, pretty solid and easy to use. 1 TB in images is a heck of a lot of space to amass lol.

    October 17, 2014
    • You’re welcome, You should try and make sure you have at least two copies of everything, I will have 3 soon and soon after that 4 copies. YOu can’t have too many. I have over 2TBs of images, and I have also deleted heaps as well. I have no idea how many images I have, but it is a lot. Thanks.

      October 17, 2014
  30. Good post (and images, natch!) and comments, all. I have a 3 TB external drive but Leanne raises a good point about the “what if” possibilities.

    I’ve written on one of my sites about how we were evacuated from our home due to a wildfire back in 2003. Organised as I may be, I didn’t think to nab photos or (back then) negatives, etc. when we left our home. We were fortunate and our neighbourhood was unscathed (just lingering smoke for a bit) but, basic as it may seem, ever since then I’ve also emailed myself files of my favourite images and keep them accessible remotely. This approach wouldn’t work for high volumes of images, but it does add another element of confidence in terms of one’s most important images (or docs).

    Best to all,
    Shelagh

    October 17, 2014
    • thank you Shelagh. it is something you have to consider.
      It is anotherway of doing it, though, as you said, for me it wouldn’t any good, I have too many, but if you weren’t doing too many could be a good way of doing it.

      Thanks Shelagh.

      October 17, 2014
      • Agreed, thanks, Leanne – and have a great weekend.

        October 18, 2014
      • 😀 you have a good one too Shelagh.

        October 18, 2014
  31. Illuminating post – I’d wondered how professionals approach this problem. Share similar sentiments as an amateur with a much lower ‘load’ of material – with similar small scale solutions and an effective burglar alarm. In my case, it would be like losing x years photo journal. I have some older shots on CD ( which will eventually be obsolete) as well as two external drives – one mobile – if all else fails, the camera memory cards as a last resort. Agree it’s not a good idea to mix game downloads with photos on hard drives…!

    October 17, 2014
    • I don’t think it matters where you are a professional or not, the problem is really the same. I think we are very attached to our images and you don’t want to lose them. thanks for sharing what you do.

      October 17, 2014
  32. PS – Just seen the comments on Drop Box – recently read a tech post on it’s vulnerabilities, will track it down if I can.

    October 17, 2014
    • That would be good if you can.

      October 17, 2014
      • This is the most recent issue with dropbox; I picked up on security problems they had in May. http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/10/7-million-dropbox-usernamepassword-pairs-apparently-leaked/

        Also, I’ve lost access to stored material online over the past decade – concerns merge, passwords not recognized etc etc – I’d think carefully about long term storage by this method as the net is so fluid.

        October 18, 2014
      • Good advice Nexi, I don’t know if I will or not, the hacking is a bit of a concern, and you pay for it as well, so I might have to do a rethink.

        October 18, 2014
    • Yes, I would be interested also in possible vulnerabilities of Dropbox. Thanks.

      October 18, 2014
      • If you google dropbox security vulnerabilities, I think you will find information – there has been an ongoing saga this year.

        October 18, 2014
    • Yes, indeed, you are absolutely correct. Quite a bit on Dropbox out there. And , it turns out that if you substitute the name of almost any one of the other cloud services for Dropbox in the same query, you get similar results.

      October 18, 2014
  33. Reblogged this on Time Nexus and commented:
    Very helpful post – I guess a lot of people have little idea how many photos they’d lose in the event of a hard drive failure.

    October 17, 2014
  34. From all the contributors there are two themes that appear; one is back up, back up and back up and the other is technical knowledge or geek husbands are needed. I would say I am lucky as I am a Geek husband, yet a simple consumer solution that anybody can use and understand would be a profitable product. I have decided to add another hard drive into the mix of my back up similar to your idea Leanne and leaving it somewhere else just in case.

    October 17, 2014
    • I can’t recommend geek husbands enough, they really take the work out of it. I don’t think you can have enough hard disks Ben, I will be adding another one soon too, and the one I had is already off site now.Thanks Ben and thanks for contribution for the post.

      October 17, 2014
  35. Excellent topic! I always back-up. And with a recent computer in the midst of dying – and before I purchased my new one – I backed up each and every time as I was concerned my computer would not start up again. You can never be too safe in backing up!

    October 17, 2014
    • I agree Debby, you can never be too safe when it comes to backing up. thanks Debby.

      October 17, 2014
  36. Wonderful post, Leanne. I’m glad you didn’t lose all of your work, Dave was a lifesaver. I experienced something like that recently. I plugged in an SD card of mine – filled with photos I had taken with my canon ixus – into my laptop and it wouldn’t recognise it. The SD card was only a year old. I managed to recover about 80% of the photos with a free program I downloaded online. It was scary and I have learnt my lesson. Am backing up all my photos now to an external drive, and CDs until I can afford another drive. Better to be safe than sorry. Have a good weekend.

    October 17, 2014
    • I am glad too and Dave did a good job. I’ve been lucky with my memory cards, though I also have a back in my camera too, so I use a second card for back up in my camera. Glad you got most of them back. It is so much better to be safe than sorry. Thanks Mabel.

      October 17, 2014
    • Similar thing happened to me last year swapping cards between Canon Ixus and a Nikon – keep them separate now.

      October 19, 2014
      • I never tried swapping cards between cameras. Was always paranoid I’ll lose all my photos in the process. Hope this didn’t happen again, very sorry to hear what happened last year.

        October 19, 2014
  37. Anonyma #

    Thanks for this very thorough look at backing up. I’m paranoid about losing my photographs.

    I have all my photographs backed up in at least four places: SD cards, computer hard drive and two external hard drives, one of which I keep at work. Other stuff, like personal files, movies, ebooks and music are backed up in triplicate. I also have certain stuff in cloud storage, for easy access from anywhere. Soon I’ll have to buy a third external hard drive.

    October 17, 2014
    • I think it is good to be paranoid about that.

      I don’t keep photos on SD cards, can’t afford the cards, the ones I have to use cost so much money. Great to see you are making sure you are covered. Thanks for sharing what you do.

      October 17, 2014
  38. Hi Leanne, thanks for sharing this information, it is a scary topic for me, travelling as I have over the last couple of years I am not backing up as I should, definitely something I am going to have to solve when I get home….

    October 17, 2014
    • Yes, I can understand how hard it would be when travelling, I will have to work out what to do when I travel next year. I have a couple of ideas. Thanks Janice.

      October 17, 2014
  39. I use a NAS box as well with 4 hard drives (Netgear NAS104). It has been set up so that data is written across all the drives rather than mirroring (2 drives mirror 2 drives). So if one fails you replace the hard drive that failed with a similar drive and it’s recreates your data that was on that “lost” hard drive. Almost fool proof, only downside is multiple drives die or it’s stolen. Good idea to get another drive though that can be left “off site”. I think I’ll take that onboard, as I can back up the NAS photos once a month and take it to my office. I take photos at the race track and coming home with 7000 photos on a day is normal and it gets back up as soon as I get in.

    Keep up the good work, love the photos.

    October 17, 2014
    • I think having another set of photos that are somewhere else is a great idea. I have moved a set somewhere else now. I feel better knowing that they should be safe.
      Thanks and thanks.

      October 17, 2014
  40. I have two computers, each with a 2TB My Passport Ultra. I put my originals on both. If I wanted offsite storage, I would use Dropbox. I think the idea of storing the Passport portables offsite is also a great idea and I could imagine even putting one in the car, in a cool, dry spot. Great post, Leanne. Lots to consider. What a nightmare losing all our work would be.

    October 17, 2014
  41. a very interesting topic, Leanne. I also have my own system and I postpone it for so long to write a blog post on it. With my background as an IT pro for more then 2 decades, I guess, I have a slightly different perspective on this. As fas as I can say, I still have files created back in the 1980s. Until now, I didn’t lost anything. Nowadays it is more important to trust in file formats, then in sustainability. On the other hand I’m quite concerned in the trustworthiness of online storage service providers, like Dropbox and several others.

    October 18, 2014
    • My husband is an IT pro too, and I let him sort it all out for me, though, I don’t always understand what he has done. My storage going back is negatives, and I haven’t had to worry about them too much. I am a bit concerned with that too, the online storage, I keep hearing reports about them being hacked, you do it for security, and that doesn’t make me feel secure. thanks Solaner.

      October 18, 2014
  42. I started backing up after my hard drive was erased totally by a bug in an storage program (slightly ironic isn’t it? The thing meant to store things on a different partition of my hard drive erasing everything…)
    So I started over, I bought a 2 TB external hard drive and used time machine to make the back ups work- now I’ve got the next problem: after every back up my laptop isn’t booting properly so I have to reinstall everything from the last backup I made- I don’t know how to solve this- has someone a clue on how to do it? Or experienced similar things?
    At the Moment I’m using iCloud to save at least a bit of my stuff at a save place but I’d like to get my time machine running again…

    October 18, 2014
    • I don’t know how to help you Mary, but I’m sure one of the other guys can, I wish I could flag this comment, I will email them and ask them if they can help.

      Can you use a different program for your backup?

      October 18, 2014
      • I tried already- but booting from a backup made by another program wasn’t possible so I have to use time Machine for now… I installed OS X Yosemite yesterday- right after it was released and I think I’ll try again this evening to backup, maybe it works after the software is completely updated, even if the new interface is that ugly… I search for different programs working for a long time… I hope someone knows how to help me… Maybe I’ll have to ask for an appointment at a genius bar next time, when I’m in Berlin…

        October 18, 2014
    • Mary, you mentioned iCloud and Time Machine. Are you using an Apple laptop? I’ve not experienced this problem and a quick Internet search didn’t turn up anything that sounded like what you described. But I do know that Apple’s Time Machine doesn’t have a trouble-free history so I don’t depend on it for protection against data loss. Perhaps one of the several “Geek Spouses” mentioned in this discussion thread can suggest a diagnosis. Sorry I couldn’t be of help; it sounds extremely frustrating.

      October 18, 2014
      • It is frustrating… I try to get an appointment at the genius Bar in Berlin on 1st of November, so they can try to help me… I searched for almost an hour and found nothing as this Problem occurred first, maybe the update to extremely ugly OS X Yosemite is for any good and cured this problem- thought I need my laptop for Pre- exam – time I can’t try out now, it just takes me to long to make everything work after a brea down…

        October 20, 2014
    • There is really only one fix for this. It’s an Apple machine. Yes? At this point, it is better to back up EVERYTHING. Remove your OS and reinstall it on what amounts to a new, clean computer.

      I see that you did this in the past.

      I think the virus is probably in one of your files. That’s a guess. But, one that I know from my time on Apple user forums. When you reinstalled everything you reintroduced the virus. So, you may have to go through your files one by one until you find it. There may be software for detecting it, but I’m not sure. What happens if you boot your computer in the safe mode? That should tell you a lot.

      The good news, at least in the US, is that your new OS will be Yosemite, which I am very, very happy with after updating last night.

      October 18, 2014
      • mmmh… I ended it in two months ago, the guys at apple checked everything and they had no clue on what could have caused the problems- my father tried to fix it two days ago and installed something to have all files screened- there was nothing, I have installed a program scanning every piece of data about every second hour and even this didn’t find anything… I cleaned up everything and installed Yosemite yesterday, maybe it’ll work…
        It is just annoying and I don’t know what could cause the error because I haven’t installed anything except the programs from the App Store and TOR for browsing anonymously… It would be quite annoying to start over again because not knowing wich part of my files creates the error I’d not be able to use my external drive with them at all… Argh… it is just that annoying…

        October 18, 2014
      • I’ve never found that the guys at Apple live up to their title. I still believe it’s a virus hiding somewhere. It’s not only downloads. If you open an email from someone who you don’t know it can be hiding in an attachment. The issue with screening software is that it has to be as new or updated or it will miss the newest viruses. May I ask, when did this start? What did it do at first? Have you tried to reboot in the safe mode? Has Yosemite helped?

        October 21, 2014
      • I haven’t tried Yosemite for now, my screening Software is in an mode to auto update every day, so that shouldn’t be the issue. It started with my first backup with time machine and went on, at first I thought, it would be just an one time occurring error, but it kept going this way the next times also, yes I tried but it didn’t work at all, there was nothing to be shown as a text just this small circle showing it is trying to load something, in the end I have given up and started again from the former made Backups.
        I have this problem only after updating. It works when shutting down and booting normally, just after any backup it seems to be overwhelmed by saving all this data…

        October 22, 2014
      • What is your computer actually doing while that’s — the spinning symbol — going on? You do know that if you are trying to back up about a TB of new data with Time Machine, that it will take about 50 days, right? If you are stopping and rebooting in the middle of that process you are essentially putting it in an endless loop.

        October 22, 2014
      • I have about 20GB of data and started the backup in the morning, when it was finished, I stopped the Auto Backup and ejected the drive. Then I switched the device off.
        It does exactly nothing, it just journeys on and on and on… I always look up if the backup is finished before I stop it…

        October 22, 2014
      • The auto back up isn’t done until it says it is done and ejects the drive on its own. It won’t physically remove it, but the HD won’t be on your desktop. It continues to process files after the actual file transer is complete. It checks for bad files, it replaces code if need be… In other words it is doing a quality test on its own work. If you want to test that, download a few files onto an SD card from the HD through Time Machine. Remove the hard drive and back up the SD card. If it works like Time Machine does on our machines, it will upload the data and continue to process for a few minutes. It will the dismount the card and eject it. BTW do us both a favor. Please reply back to Ray@Laskowitzpictures.com. I’ll reply a lot quicker that way. Let me try to understand something, just because :), when you say the computer does nothing, does that mean you cannot use it at all? Which device are you shutting off? HDs are usually plug and play.

        October 23, 2014
  43. I didn’t discus traveling because we do it way too much.

    I’m not sure what the cost of SD cards is in Australia, but in the US SD cards are fairly inexpensive. For instance. Lexar Platinum II 64g — US $ 32. That’s not much for so much storage. It’s also as fast as you need.

    That said, my traveling workflow? None. I own about 180 gigs worth of SD cards in many sizes. If I fill that much when I’m out, I probably shot too much. But if it’s a seriously long trip, unless I’m in some tiny place, I buy another card. When you travel to NYC, I suggest you stop by B&H… buy a handful. Life gets much easier.

    Why don’t I do this on the road? Today’s SD cards are probably the most stable mass storage available. I’m a creature of habit. I’d rather do production workflow in the studio. The light is controlled. The conditions are controlled. The workflow is controlled. I’m not making it up as I go.

    More importantly, when we travel one of us is working. Sometimes both. When we are working, I’d rather spend my time either seeing, researching or exploring. And, resting. I really don’t want to spend my “spare” time in some hotel room doing what I could be doing at home. If I want to share something on Storyteller, I have an adaptor made by Apple. I plug that into my iPad, pick a couple of pictures, store them on the Adobe cloud and use Lightroom to process them. That’s the limit of my “out on the road” work.

    After all, the rule of the road is lighter is better. Less is more.

    As far as needing a geek mate goes, I’ll tell her. I don’t think that she’ll like the notion of being traded in. Heh!

    October 18, 2014
    • I am so glad you addressed this Ray, I’m travelling next year I hope, and it is something that I have wondered about. Though the memory cards are really expensive here, a Sandisk extreme 32gb is $80, oh that is for a SD card, the compact flash card was about $160, and the 64GB SD card is about $160 as well. I think Lexar are about the same.
      If I go to New York next year that is one of the things I was planning on doing, getting some more.
      I like what you said about travelling, I had thought the same, I would spend time taking photos and not worry about working on photos until I got home.
      Haha, I think I got lucky deciding to marry a computer dork, who knew how helpful he would be in the future. Thanks Ray.

      October 18, 2014
      • I see what you are saying about cost. That’s really expensive. I have a 64 gig card as well. It was a special offer. I paid US$39 for it. The exchange rate between our two currencies isn’t that great. 🙂 I’ll stick with my musician… she dislikes tech, but that’s fine.

        October 18, 2014
      • Apparently something to do with small population, not being able to buy things in bulk, blah blah blah, and then they get annoyed with us because we buy things on the internet. I don’t know why they don’t make deals with other countries, like NZ, go in it together, split the stock. though there is also an attitude with businesses that we are used to paying more, so we will, well we are jack of that. I can’t believe how cheap it was. Never would you get something that cheap here.
        Yes, probably best to stick with her, there has to be more than just what technology they know. LOL 😀

        October 18, 2014
      • I’ve been to Australia twice. I guess because I wasn’t looking for gear, it never dawned on me how expensive things could be. What happens with products like camera bodies… Nikon and Canon. They are supposed be MAPped, which means the price cannot be raised too high or too low. But, that’s probably adjusted by region or country. I don’t know. I do know that I can’t get a better price than I do in the US or Hongkong because of that. I agree with you about sticking with her…

        October 18, 2014
      • We pay more for everything, we even pay more for goods that are made here and then shipped overseas. When we had a car industry, they would make a car, sell it for $30,000 here and then sell it for $15,000 in the US, unbelievable. Apparently Australia has the most competitive car market in the world, but we pay a lot more for those cars. I think the cameras aren’t too bad, they are more expensive, but not too much, maybe a few hundred. The problem for us is getting stuff from the US means really expensive shipping costs. Places in the US will charge you at least $60 for shipping as well. Rip off, can’t help thinking some deal has been struck between Australia and the US to stop us from doing it. The UK is by far the best place for us to get stuff from. It doesn’t cost as much.

        October 18, 2014
      • Hi, Leanne: If your future visit to the B&H store in Manhattan (about a block away from Penn Station) is going to be your first time there it’s going to be an impressive experience. Allocate a little extra time to wander around and observe. It’s quite a place.
        I sympathize with Ray about traveling light and avoiding dreary “work” while on the road and he is right that memory cards are very stable. But if they are kept in a camera pack that is “appropriated” by a local evil-doer, the result is the same as a memory card crash. I don’t do a lot of post-capture processing on the road, but I do make sure that there is a recoverable copy of all new images in a second location at the end of every day.

        October 18, 2014
      • Thanks for that Robin, I had planned on doing that, well going to a photography store, I want to pick up some other things as well, things that are too expensive here in Australia. I will do that for sure.
        I had thought of getting a small external travelling hard drive to put my photos on as well Robin, that way I have two copies of everything. Thank you.

        October 18, 2014
  44. Great post Leanne. I’m sure professional photographers are by now very careful about having several back-ups on and off site, but my guess is that many amateurs like me, may have overlooked the issue. I learned the hard way a few years ago when I lost many of my family photos and almost all my professional writings. Not fun. Now I have a 3-way back up system.

    October 18, 2014
    • I think you are right Tiny, after having experienced losing everything once, it is something I don’t ever want to happen again. I try very hard to keep everything backed up and now, hopefully more so. It really isn’t fun, sounds good. It is terrible that sometimes you have to lose everything to make sure it never happens again.

      October 18, 2014
  45. Amy #

    Thank you so much for educating us on backup, Leanne. It is vital! I lost thousands of photos some years ago. I know the feeling…

    October 18, 2014
    • You’re welcome Amy, I am sorry to hear that, it is horrible when it happens.

      October 18, 2014
  46. I back up my back up and keep one set off-site. Great post Leanne. Backing up is so important and will save much heartache in the event of the unforeseeable.

    October 18, 2014
    • Sounds like you are covered, which is great. Thank you, I agree it is so very important.

      October 18, 2014
  47. Very important post. Nice to hear how the pros take care of backups. I use portable hard drives for backup with online backup for those times when there might be a fire or theft. We had a fire and I replaced several hard drives. This week, my online backup hiccuped. No one method is perfect, so multiple backup types is important. In any case, the redundancy gave me peace of mind even though I didn’t actually lose data in either incident.

    October 18, 2014
    • That sounds good John, I am going to keep a copy of everything offsite now, it went yesterday and I will replace it each month, or back it up, that way I will feel better. Thanks

      October 18, 2014
  48. Leanne, I used to use a 1 TB backup and then found I was keeping all sorts of extra photos, 2nds and 3rds. Now (since I carry everything in a pack) I back up only RAW files to a flahdrive so have two copies, one on my computer and one on flash. I wish I could use on-line storage but the reality is I am on WIFI 100% of the time and is usually comparatively slow. I am considering a 2.5″ backup in a hard case, however. This is about choices, I think, computer or tablet, PS5 or PS6CC, computer or tablet and compatible storage. Ideally, I could use a tablet with 2.5″ backup and PS6 CC, but I don’t think it can be done. ??not sure about all that.

    October 18, 2014
    • Must be a nightmare for you Robert, travelling so light all the time. I don’t know how you do it. I’m worried about one trip away next year. Thanks for sharing what you do.

      October 18, 2014
  49. Late to the party, but, maybe I can add something useful . . .

    My process:

    1) Files are transferred from my camera to one of my 3TB external drives.

    2) I read all the photos into Lightroom as a copy. They get copied to my other 3TB external drive.

    3) When I output photos for publication (adjusted and post-processed), I output to a dedicated 1TB internal data drive.

    4) all the photos that I post are also uploaded to SmugMug

    Once a month I copy everything (new) to another external 4TB drive that normally sits in my gun safe in the basement. I also copy a smaller set to two 2TB passport drives. Those also reside in the safe in waterproof containers (low chance of flooding here, but you never know).

    Once a year I format the backup drive (gets rid of errors, weak bits, etc.) and do new full backups of everything to date.

    The gun safe is fireproof for a couple of hours of fire, but likely the interior would get hot.

    I still have all the DVD backups I have done since 2002. They go to 2012, when I switched to the current system. There are two copies of each DVD, and there are full backups made every 3-4 years.

    All those are also in the safe.

    Cloud storage is getting cheaper, but still not cheap enough . . . however, that will change pretty quickly. My current needs are for 3.5TB of backup storage, but that will go up pretty quick with the size of the RAW files now at nearly 20MB each.

    I no longer save the PSD files as they can be from 100MB to 300MB each, depending on the editing.

    NOW . . .

    Let me put a different perspective out there . . .

    Should I lose everything . . . what fun it would be to recreate all the photos of the last 12 years!

    Plus, I think (but don’t know) I’m better now. I would likely take less photos, but better.

    In other words, I don’t worry too much. Once I “use” the photos, I’m not likely to go back and ever do anything with them. The photos I use already live in SmugMug and WordPress.

    Realistically, the only thing I would miss are the ones I have not published yet, but even them . . . I would love the excuse to go back to Hawaii, Yellowstone, Smoky Mountains, etc.

    They are only pictures, after all, and the memories are much more precious . . . does anyone have any ideas on how to safeguard those?

    October 18, 2014
    • Wow, that is quite a system Disperser, not sure I kept up with all that. Thanks for explaining.
      There would always be photos that if you lost you would never be able to recreate or do again. They aren’t just memories to me, they are my art, and are very important to me. So I wouldn’t want to lose them. Of course there are photos of things that I wouldn’t care about losing, but my Manchester Unity building photos, I could never do those again, because I wouldn’t get access like that again. The photos I took after the bushfires in January, I couldn’t take those again unless there was another bushfire, which I certainly hope there isn’t. No, I would be absolutely gutted if I lost everything.

      October 18, 2014
      • I’m on the same page here as Leanne. I cannot emphasize enough the importance for me of all those images that cannot be replicated. The special moments captured on film or digital will never happen again so their loss would be devastating. In addition to the personal emotional connections between the artist and his/her creations are the secondary but still important considerations of the digital documentation of what was done (so you can improve and/or teach) and the economic blow from loss of inventory.

        October 19, 2014
  50. Phew! I am no professional but my photographs are precious to me. I already use two portable external hard drives and the photos are saved on both. When we travel I carry one with me to save photos on to at the end of each day. Reading about nearly losing all your work made my skin crawl Leanne. What a devastating thought.

    I was interested to read Ray’s thoughts about using 1TB hard drives and not quite filling them. A few years ago my brother had one and he filled it completely and it suddenly stopped working for him. Maybe that’s why.

    Great post Leanne. Thanks.

    October 18, 2014
    • It was a devastating experience Carol, thankfully all worked out in the end. They are precious, and I don’t want to lose them. I like what you do, I’m trying to work out what to do next year when I go to New York, a few plans.

      Dave just said that it shouldn’t happen, if you fill them they stop letting you put more on, but it shouldn’t stop them from working, he said it isn’t what stopped ours. They do just break down sometimes. He thinks it might have been a power surge during a recent storm, the power going off suddenly or something like that.

      Thanks Carol

      October 18, 2014
      • If Dave thinks that it might have been a surge he makes a good point that I don’t think we covered in this discussion. There are a couple ways to protect against those and some readers might have some additional suggestions. You can acquire surge protectors that are used with the circuit panels controlling the distribution of power to your house. I’m not sure they are fool-proof, however, because we’ve had a couple of incidents (not affecting my photographic systems) that might have been caused by a surge. But in addition to those protectors on our panels, I also have two power conditioners/UPS units between the incoming power and my computer systems. Neither of these measures are cheap, however.

        October 19, 2014
      • I don’t know how much surge protectors cost or how effective they are, we had a safety switch put on, but not a surge protector. thanks Robin.

        October 19, 2014
  51. great post- I have an external drive too and a few hard copies. Love these photos!! and especially Alice who after removing her running through wonderland shoes is pouring tea ( for the rabbit who has not arrived yet) 🙂

    October 18, 2014
    • You can never be too careful really, good to see you are covered. I love the story you have given the photo, thank you so much Cybele. I am not sure what is keeping the rabbit, he is certainly very late!! 😀

      October 18, 2014
  52. I saw this post when there were no comments but I’ve been packing to go overseas.

    My C drive is an SSD and my data drive is a RAID 10 with 4x2TB WD Reds which is for images.This means I can have up to two disks fail and not lose data. My backup is a Drobo S in which I have 5x3TB HGST drives and I have that configured like a RAID5 so a disk can fail and I don’t lose data. I don’t backup to the cloud because I have too much data to back it all up and Acronis, my main backup software, won’t back up just say images with 3 stars in Lightroom. In theory I could reorganise those to different directories but in practice I don;t have the time.

    In January, when my data drive was a 4x1TB WD Red Raid5, I lost 3 drives within several days, one in the Drobo and two in the RAID. That meant I did lose the data drive with no hope of recovery. I was able to restore from backup but I then discovered there was a hole in my backups and I did lose data, mainly a year or so of Blues Festivals.

    As well as the SSD and the Data drive, I have an additional 1TB WD Black drive in my PC for Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, Outlook data files, downloads and working files (eg web files and orders). I try to keep all lookup files and data off my C drive so that’s not affected if it fails.

    One thing no-one has mentioned so far is image backup – ie the image of your computer not image files. Windows 7 and 8 have this capacity built in and Acronis does it differently and you can recover to different media. Sometimes your C Drive might crash and you have to reformat it. This means you can quickly recover to what it was without having to reinstall your software. Otherwise, you may still have all your data but it can take a lot of time and effort to get up and running again.

    Having recently upgraded my SSD, I also have another capacity here, a cloned C Drive SSD. If the C drive fails I can simply swap SSDs.

    October 18, 2014
    • It is really interesting hearing all the different ways that people back up, or don’t. We have 4 disks in our NAS now, two 6TBs, 1 3TB and 1 1TB, though the latter two will be replaced with 6TB ones when we get more money. It is expensive doing all this, but something that has to be done.

      I don’t get everything you have talked about Murray, sorry, but I know others will. I’m techie to a point, but then I have Dave, he is my techie person.

      thanks Murray.

      October 19, 2014
  53. A very important post for all of us. I can fully understand the anxiety your incident must have caused you Leanne. Thanks for sharing and for the advice from you and your friends.

    October 19, 2014
    • My pleasure Andy, it is something I like about these up for discussion posts, sharing experiences and sharing information. I learn lots too.

      October 19, 2014
  54. A really interesting and important post Leanne. Currently using an external drive and a NAS drive, but the NAS drive does not work as well as we thought it would (husband in charge of this though). One recurring problem seems to be the amount of storage needed, and an important point mentioned in the original text is that of deleting unwanted files/images. A problem I have (always!) is organisation, I end up with many copies of my photos on the same disk and need to find myself a method of deleting duplicates and unwanted files otherwise I’ll just end up with even more duplicates if I copy all files to another storage media. Thanks for a great post, maybe it will encourage me to reorganise before it gets worse!

    October 19, 2014
    • Our is working a lot better now, thank goodness and hopefully I won’t have any more trouble with it, though I am sure I will. I had the same thing Katie, I had to go through and delete lots that were on there in different folders but were basically the same. I think I did it a lot initially because I was worried, all good now though and happy with how things are. I copy the file over, so the computer wants to merge it, so it will only copy things that have changed, it is hard though, I know what you mean there. Glad you liked the post, seems I hit on something that we are all thinking about. Oh yes, reorganise now.

      October 19, 2014
  55. I have finally got to this post 😉
    I actually have some older files on my laptop but I generally back up to two external 1TB hard drives as well. Every year or so, I go through and burn to DVD/CD also. But I am ruthless with my photos. I will go through every photo when I download them from the camera and if I think there is nothing that I can do with it then it is binned.
    I also have all of my digital scrapbook designs backed up and any fonts or programs that I have collected over the years. 🙂

    October 20, 2014
    • Sounds like you have a system going Suz, though be careful with CD’s and DVD’s they can degrade and you might find there is nothing on them any more. I need to get better at deleting photos I know I will never work on. I have start going through the thousands I have to do that. Sounds great Suz, and sounds like you are on top of it. 😀

      October 20, 2014
      • I wasn’t aware that CDs could degrade. I recently pulled out some from the early 00s and they were okay (thank goodness).

        October 20, 2014
      • Yeah, have to be careful, I had about 10 CD’s with images and when I went to look at them only 5 still had the photos on them. They aren’t a really reliable way of backing up, I wonder if those usb flash drives are, I might ask Dave.

        October 20, 2014
      • There’s a thought and they’re quite cheap as well. Let me know what Dave says.

        October 20, 2014
      • Dave doesn’t know but it seems they could be good as long as you aren’t constantly loading and deleting stuff. Here is a link that tells you about all sorts of things
        http://www.storagecraft.com/blog/data-storage-lifespan/

        October 20, 2014
      • You know what I’m doing right now don’t you? I’ve pulled out all of my CDs and re-backing them up!!

        October 20, 2014
      • I would do that too, good to hear. 😀

        October 20, 2014
  56. Leanne, I came back here to correct myself regarding my Ultra Passport that I have been using for my backups. I dopped it today and now it will not open. What is in it represents all of my photos since this past March minus 4 folders that I kept on my laptop in order to edit. ALL of my flowers are on this. And of this writing I do not have one flower original that I can access. My husband has been working 5 hours now trying to get this Passport to work and still is not able to. The tears I have shed, I cannot even tell you. I don’t know what I am going to do at this point if this Passport refuses to open. It is like a huge part of me died and so many future posts are no longer a possibility. Would I recommend this means of external hard drive to store photos? NO! And now after reading what other people have experienced, I am far from being alone with being in the situation I find myself in tonight. I took the weekend off from blogging, and now this, I honestly don’t know what I am going to do. Thank God I have Glen Falls and my most recent Autumn originals on my laptop, but again, every single flower original is on that Passport. Lesson learned. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket. I am also putting this post on my desktop for reference for the future when I purchase another type of storage. I do thank you for all the priceless information contained in this post, as well as the comments. Thank you, Leanne, from the bottom of my Heart. Love, Amy

    October 20, 2014
    • OMG Amy, what is happening to you is all of ours nightmares. I will keep my fingers crossed for you that you can get it fixed. Please please keep me updates. I know exactly what you mean about not keeping them all in the same basket.

      October 20, 2014
      • I barely slept at all last night, Leanne, and I go between being numb and in tears. My husband was up to about 4am still trying to get into it, and still this morning, nothing. There are at least 14, 000 originals on that Passport, irreplacable. Here I am staring at Winter with nothing to photograph but snow. I honestly feel like walking away from everything right now. I am just that upset. Eight months of really intense hard work is gone. And all my stock for winter posts gone as well. I cannot believe this is happening. I was so sure I was doing OK by using the Passport. I should know one or the other today the final outcome.

        October 20, 2014
      • I am so sorry to hear about this Amy, I hope you don’t walk away and that do continue with your photos. I can understand how depressing it can be there in winter, and I’m not sure I can say anything that will help, except I do know how you are feeling. I have sent you something, I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to help you get started again. It think you are right, you can’t have all your eggs in one basket. Take care Amy.

        October 21, 2014
      • Leanne, this is the final outcome. I did manage to fix my shutter button wih the help of Canon. Thank God! xx Amy

        http://herladypinkrose.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/terrible-situation/

        October 21, 2014
      • I did read it Amy, my heart goes out to you.

        October 21, 2014
    • Amy, I am so sorry to hear what happened to your drive. If your husband is unable to rescue the files, you might see if there are any vendors providing data recovery services in your area. A Google search might turn up something; use the term “data recovery services” in the search. I hope it works out.

      October 21, 2014
      • We tried, Robin. We were quoted prices from $900-$3,000 to recover my photographs. We don’t have that kind of money. They are gone. So much hard work represented and a huge part of me just gone. I cried the tears that needed releasing. Now I am trying to get my head back on straight. From now on, I back up on a much sturdier and bigger external HD and I back up the back up, putting that in a safety deposit box. Lesson learned.
        http://herladypinkrose.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/terrible-situation/ Love, Amy

        October 21, 2014
  57. After reading the many comments on backups and the horror stories, I was prompted to act! As well as my 4TB external drive I use to back up my laptop, I have now purchased 2x 1TB drives specifically for my bird photography and for images from our sailing adventures. We have a big trip coming up, so these 1TB drive are perfect for daily dumps of photos from my memory cards. The last thing I want is to risk losing precious material from places that are hard to get to and where we may never return! I am also gradually cleaning up my laptop and deleting a lot of photos that are not up to scratch… Major job that will take a while, but I will be more ruthless in future so as not to clog the laptop or the drives. So thank you, thank you Leanne and all those who gave input. This has been an extremely useful discussion. Chris

    October 20, 2014
    • I would also suggest getting lots of SD cards, keeping photos on those and the TB’s, that way you still have lots of copies, oh I mean when you are travelling. That is what I am planning on doing when I go to New York next year. It is a major job going through old folders, something I really need to do too. I am trying to get better at it now when I take photos. I am glad you have found it useful Chris, that is the main thing.

      October 21, 2014
    • Happy that you have found it useful. A lot of comments have been very helpful to me as well. Leanne makes a good point about stocking up on those memory cards if possible.

      October 21, 2014
  58. I do have a backup system. Kinda. Not completely satisfied about it. Basically, my pictures *stay* on the SD cards. When the card is full, I buy a new one. Then, there’s my laptop, where all the files reside. And I also have a sync program in place on my desktop computer, where I can backup the pictures from the laptop to the desktop’s hard drive. This is in no way a professional solution, as there is no RAID involved for true redundancy, and in case of a failure, I’d have to *manually* check for differences between the drives (which would be a huge task). And I have no offsite storage. I have had in mind to set up my own “cloud” backup using software like owncloud where I would truly control all the terms and conditions and my privacy settings (basically, owncloud is software where you can create your own cloud storage server, and configure it to suit your own needs.). Also of getting a NAS at home. But now is not the right time as we have big expenses for the house, so the IT budget is down to 0 at the moment.
    Also, as a software engineer, one of the first things we learn is “redundancy”. Not just of software, but also of people. Why don’t you ask your husband to take you through the basic operation of the NAS? You never know, if something happens and he’s away, you’d definitely need to know how to get your things from it 🙂

    October 21, 2014
    • You can never be too concerned, or too careful. I have heard from someone who since that post was done has now lost everything for the something like the last year. She is devastated, naturally. Maybe you should consider leaving your memory cards somewhere else, which would at least mean something was off site. I now have a hard drive off site and am feeling a but better about that. I think my husband does have to explain it to me, I sort of get it, and understand it, but I don’t know how to do anything on it if I have to, well besides putting my photos on and getting photos off it. He will go through it at some stage. Thanks elPadawan.

      October 21, 2014
    • Setting up your own “cloud” is an interesting idea. I believe Western Digital has an approach to that called “My Cloud.” Do you have any thoughts on their solution?

      October 21, 2014
      • That looks like a cloud enabled NAS device. It’s pretty much what one would use if they were setting their “owncloud” server at home with a spare computer. Not sure the user reviews are so great about it, though: http://www.engadget.com/products/western-digital/my-cloud/
        Advantage of ownCloud is that if you purchase your own domain and hosting solution, you could setup ownCloud on it, I think…

        October 23, 2014
      • OK, thanks very much. I’ll check that link and then look into the ownCloud concept. If I find anything interesting, I’ll post a follow-up reply here.

        October 23, 2014
      • Back again. I see what you mean about the reviews of the WD My Cloud. They are very mixed. As for the ownCloud system, their website describes it as an enterprise file sharing solution for online collaboration. If I understand it correctly, this isn’t something an individual would likely use, at least not me. I believe “Enterprise” is the term for organizations with their own IT departments, server room(s), etc. Although it sounds quite powerful, it doesn’t sound simple. But I could be wrong……

        October 23, 2014
  59. I feel your pain Leanne! It’s happened to all of us at one time or another.

    One thing to remember about Time Machine is that it is constantly deleting the oldest files to make room for the new ones as the drive fills up. I use it, but in conjunction with three other external drives.

    My Nikon D3 can use the two CF or SD slots to have one card to back up to the other one (not sure if all cameras have this or not). I don’t do this, but it sounds like a good idea if you have enough cards. Cards are solid state (no moving parts) so they are very reliable. Solid state internal and external hard drives are available and probably the safest way to go, but they are super expensive.

    October 27, 2014
    • It was too close a call really.
      I don’t know Time Machine, what is that?
      My D300s and my D800 has slots for both CF and SD cards, but they are way to expensive here to use as storage, though when I go overseas next year I want to get enough that I can leave photos on them. Thank you, you can never be too careful with your photos.

      October 27, 2014
  60. A very important posting on a topic that can never be reiterated enough, both for photographers, and anyone who uses a computer for anything. I don’t know how many horror stories I’ve heard of people losing all their pictures, or writings, etc. for want of a simple back-up system, or for having a back-up system that was not kept up-to-date. Thanks again for the article. We can all use the occasional reminder.

    October 28, 2014
    • I agree, it is a shame that many of us are reminded when things start to go horribly wrong, I feel better about my system now. I have one more thing in place, which is good. You’re welcome, I am glad that it has been a good one for people.

      October 28, 2014
  61. Great post! And something to think about. I don’t have nearly as many files as you (!) but I am certainly concerned. Right now we have the Time Capsule and my laptop is backed up on that. Then I use an external hard drive to back up my photos in Aperture. That’s it. Probably not enough! Gotta get busty with this, thanks for the nudge.

    November 4, 2014
    • Thanks Barbara, it is a good warning for all of us, certainly for me, I did have a lucky escape, another women I know lost everything. I think your system looks good, but I would consider getting another external hard drive that you can leave somewhere else, somewhere not where all your other photos are. That is the main thing I have changed, I know have a drive elsewhere.

      November 4, 2014
      • Yes, as Leanne suggests, one more hard drive that is off-site would be a good move. And putting specific reminder dates on your calendar can help you remember to update it on a regular basis. Good Luck!

        November 4, 2014
  62. Time Machine is a back up app. that is bundled with Mac OSX. If you hook it up to a 2 TB external drive it will keep a blanket backup of everything you do on your computer going back as far as a year or two.

    November 7, 2014
    • I don’t know anything about Mac,my attitude is you can’t have too much. I know have one off site as well.

      November 7, 2014
  63. My strategy is to really, really edit my photos down to the very best ones and copy them to flash drives then label and date them and toss them in a drawer. Unless USB disappears, I think I’m okay.

    November 10, 2014
    • But does each flash drive only have one copy, what happens if something happens to your house? I have mine off site as well now, I feel better with that idea. Good luck.

      November 10, 2014
    • That’s what I used to do with “floppy” disks, then zip drives, then CDs, then DVDs, etc. etc. According to those who claim to have studied this, flash storage has a life span of 5-10 years, depending on the number of write cycles and the quality of the maker.

      November 10, 2014
      • I’m getting old; all my art/photography will be thrown out when I die. Everything else will be sold or given to a thrift store. We’re mortal. LOL

        November 11, 2014
      • That is certainly a reasonable and rational approach. Personally, I’m opting for denial. By the way, thanks for your comments. It’s been an interesting discussion with a lot of different viewpoints.

        November 11, 2014

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