The Digital Age has brought us technology that we would have never imagined 20 years ago. Today you can put your entire record collection and then some on a device the size of stick of gum. The conveniences provided by that same technology also come with a certain price.
Digital photographers can get lost in the bliss of being able to click the shutter release on their camera until their heart’s content. Being able to store thousands of digital images in a hard drive that takes up little more space than a deck of cards is what we dream of. However those dreams can be crushed in a matter of minutes due to a failure of that hard drive. That being said, I’m going to preach (yes I said preach) to you about the importance of backing up your computers and photos. Hear me out here, you may thank me one day!
Maintaining the integrity of our images is more important now than ever since most people have made the move from film to digital. The nice thing about digital is that as long as you take care of your gear, it’s likely to last a really, really long time and they will be in the same condition as they were the day you captured them with your camera. To ensure our images are safe it is imperative that we do daily back ups. Even if you only take pictures for personal use, it can be devastating to lose all the images of your friends, family, vacations, etc. Not to mention those who make their living with their images.
OK, you have me scared into submission… but now what?
In order to give you some insight on how to properly back up your images, I’ll explain what I do and hopefully you will get an idea of what you need to do. I currently work from a laptop with a 250GB hard drive which is pretty good sized, but can still fill up quickly. Besides, I don’t want my entire image collection stored on my laptop. It could get dropped or stolen and all of those images would be gone forever. Therefore I use a couple of external hard drives. I only store images that I’m working on currently on my laptop, which helps minimize my risk. After I fill up a memory card, I insert it into my card reader in my laptop and import them using Lightroom. As I’m importing them into my library in Lightroom, they are simultaneously being backed up to my external drive. I think of them as my digital negatives. After I’m done working with the images in Lightroom I export my finished images as high res JPEGs to my external drive. I then delete the working images off of my hard drive on my laptop so that I have room for more working images. The second external drive I use mirrors the first one so that I have two copies of everything. This way if one drive goes bad, I have the other one with all of my images on it. Hard drives are pretty reliable, but they can still fail and data recovery can be very expensive. We’re talking a couple thousand dollars here. (Yikes!) I also perform daily backups of my laptop using Acronis True Image 11. It’s well worth the $50 bucks! (Here’s the link) This takes care of all my other files that I use on my laptop and ensures that I will always have them in the event of a hardware failure.
Like your parents who used to tell you to eat your vegetables and drink your milk, I’m going to tell you to back up your images on a daily basis or else! Believe me, it will save you a lot of stress when the day finally rolls around (and it will) that you have a hard drive failure. That’s it for today. Now go perform a backup!!! 🙂