4 Ways You Should Be Storing And Backing Up Your Photos If You Want To Do It Right

Dec 2, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

4 Ways You Should Be Storing And Backing Up Your Photos If You Want To Do It Right

Dec 2, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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If you’ve ever lost an entire catalog of images to hard drive failure, you probably know how important it is to properly and securely back up your data. If you haven’t run into such a speed bump just yet, congratulations, but just because it hasn’t been an issue in the past, doesn’t mean you’re not prone to a hard drive failure in the future. Losing your images can be devastating, especially if you shoot a lot of paid work. Thankfully, a little forethought and planning can help prevent such a catastrophe.

In the video below, Matt Granger talks about a few options photographers have when it comes to photo storage and backing up image files. Very important stuff! Here’s a quick list of 4 ways Granger backs up his data, then be sure to watch the video as he explains the process he uses both at home and when shooting on location.

  • Hard Drive Storage – Granger recommends storing photos on a RAID array such as this Drobo Bay which accepts a standard 3.5″ SATA HHDs.
  • Flash Storage – Such as SD, Compact Flash, or SSDs, flash storage is more reliable than traditional hard drives thanks to the fact flash storage doesn’t have any moving parts to fail; however, they aren’t as big as most hard drives.
  • DVD’s – Perhaps an unexpected addition to the list, but Granger says when DVD’s are used in conjunction with the previous two options are a great way to back up data. Just be sure to store the DVD’s properly.
  • Cloud Storage – Storing your photos on someone else’s RAID arrangement is never a bad idea. Cloud hosting is getting much more afforadble, almost making it a no brainer. Though, Granger notes slow upload times often prevent him from backing up his entire collection of images. Rather, he weeds out the most important ones.

Photo Storage & Backup – DO IT RIGHT!


What methods are you using to backup your photos and keep them safe from digital corruption? Let us know in the comments below!
[ via Matt Granger ]

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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9 responses to “4 Ways You Should Be Storing And Backing Up Your Photos If You Want To Do It Right”

  1. Peter Avatar

    Flash Storage is more volatile (and expensive) than hard drive storage, so there is no benefit in using that.

    And DVD is just outdated, you can’t burn them fast enough and they don’t offer much capacity. Also incremental backup is almost impossible with DVDs.

    Hard drives and Cloud storage (more hard drives) is the only real options. The rest is just fluff to get a list out of it.

  2. a different phil Avatar
    a different phil

    Note that no flash manufacturer specifies regular flash memory for long term storage. Expect errors after 5 years.

  3. Robert Williams Avatar
    Robert Williams

    Well, I use the 2 card slots in my camera, set to mirror, so I have a backup even while shooting. Then, I import to lightroom. If I’m on location, with my laptop, I have a 1TB external drive that I will then export the folders used in the shoot to a new catalog on the USB drive. Then, when I have an internet connection, I crashplan will then make a cloud backup.
    When I get back home, I will take the final catalog back and import that on my desktop. My desktop has a 4TB external for backups, and also has crashplan for a cloud backup. Only crashplan also handles the 4TB drive as well, rather than manually exporting like I do on the laptop.
    In any case, I wait until I have the photos in 2 different locations before formatting the cards.

  4. uthomas Avatar

    get an external NAS like Synology, have a sync/backup script copy it there (many options) and back it up to amazon glacier (for long term storage).
    Everything else (2nd harddrive) is not backup, but a 2nd copy

  5. john Avatar

    I have a 6GB HHD ( I’ve kept for historical record ) with the original price tag on it… $239.95 !!!

  6. Josofa Harris Avatar
    Josofa Harris

    Lets not forget about one of the best backups, that being a print.
    I have photos of family from long before computers even existed.

  7. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    I’ve worked in the computer industry since 1974. I have seen the industry change tremendously.

    Matt has a great backup strategy of using RAID and offsite storage. Yes, hard drives will fail. But you make it seem that SSD drives are infallible. It has been a long time since I worked for a computer manufacturer and I don’t understand the electronics of the SSD technologies. But SSD, CF, and SD have an unknown, but limited, cycle of writes; it is like the shutter lifetime of professional cameras. A DSLR camera manufacturer may say the shutter has a life of 200,000 actuations because they have tested it extensively; you may get a camera that exceeds that or fails before then. Solid state memory is like shutter clicks; each write cycle reduces the life of the unit.

    Cloud storage? Companies can go belly up. Your data may disappear in bankruptcy or be aquired by another company.

    Finally, there has been a huge shift in technology from 8 bit computers in the 1970’s in personal computers to 16 bit in the 80’s to 32 bit and 64 bit. One thing is constant and that is change. Computer technology, operating systems, and applications will change. File formats will change; there is no guarantee that future file formats will remain backward compatible. Should the storage medium change, the data should be moved to the new media for preservation.

    There is one medium that is able to be viewed by humans of the content and that is film. Even looking at color negative film, the contents of the image can be seen. With digital, it requires compatible media and software for displaying the image.

    1. Sean Avatar

      Agree about the reliability of SSD’s. I work in IT for a living and I can tell you from experience that they do. We used to build servers using 4 high quality SSD drives in Raid 10 and we would experience failures at least every few months on one or more drive. SSD’s are good for casual home use but definitely can fail in heavy daily use. Fast but not infallible…and pricey per GB.

  8. Sean Avatar

    I’ve been victim of the failed HD. Lost a 500gb drive once..right in middle to backing it up no less. Luckly was not a full drive and was able to recover about 80% of the data from other sources..still, lost about 4 months of images.

    My process now is simple. I use Karen’s Replicator (free and works) and backup my primary photo strorage HD to a secondary HD in my PC and to a external storage drive (Buffalo Teraserver Raid 5). I also us BackBlaze and do continuous backups of the drive.

    I agree though. DVD’s are useless for 700GB of images. I’d need 148 of them. DVD’s are good if you burn your images same day you load them onto your PC but DVD’s I guess, but who has time to go back and burn 150 DVDs? LOL.

    My soon to be 4th backup solution is going to be a portable 2TB USB drive (primarily because I want to have my images with me when I travel).