I has been a while since I posted on the blog but you all were warned by the tagline, “Infrequent musing from a local photographer”. This wasn’t setup to add another task to my plate but rather to tell stories and provide helpful information to my clients or anyone who wants to read. Basically, if you get a tip or any enjoyment out of an article on this site, I’m happy.
On to the topic at hand, backing up your precious images. Coming from an Information Technology background of almost 20 years, I think in more technical and logical aspects than most people do. Back in the olden days, you took your spent film roll out, dropped it off at the local shop and picked the prints up a few days later. Most today won’t know the joy of seeing the images you produced using film. It was like Christmas morning or a birthday gift every time you received that photo pouch...you couldn't wait to see them. People today might see this process as outdated or lame but the one advantage those folks had over digital photos was…a physical copy of the pictures. Now, one could argue that the photo and film negatives were the only option. While that is true, you still had something physical in the final developed image that people cherished and cared for. A hard copy of your memories.
Moving on the digital age. Man is it ever convenient. You can snap a high quality photo that Ansel Adams couldn’t even dream of, at qualities he couldn’t imagine and share it with thousands upon thousands of people on the internet. The displays we view todays photos on are almost unreal in clarity and color. From the iPhone in your pocket to laptops, desktop monitors and TVs. You can delete your “bad” images and keep the ones that are prized. You can share on social media, a website, send via email or post in a gallery…endless way to share. Camera’s are so advance today it’s almost like cheating to the great photographers of the past. Although, I will argue we are just as creative as they were, just in a different way. It’s all subjective to the time period and how you’re able to be edgy or even classic during your time. The one thing most people don’t think about is, saving multiple copies of those digital images. Let’s face it, most people don’t get their images printed in todays age. As a society, we are so inundated with images that they are almost throw away. Just on to the next thing for our brains to visually process.
Think of image backups as the digital equivalent to getting your photos printed long ago. You also have the option of not only backing up images, but getting amazing physical prints. This is why I recommend getting your photos printed, at least some of them, from a photoshoot. Physical prints not only invoke a very tactile experience and emotional reaction, but it also means you have another copy of that image other than the digital one. I ALWAYS recommend my client get some photos from their sessions printed. My typical process for delivering images to my clients is a 30 active gallery so they have time to download their images and order any prints. Since I have to pay hosting fees for these galleries, photos are placed into my archive system after 30 days. As a photographer it is not my responsibility to keep images from your shoot in my possession. However, I do keep photos of my clients for years because, well, IT guy here. What I’m getting at is this, it is your responsibility to care for and backup your digital photos. These are images you’ve paid good money for and are memories you’ll want to look back on in the future.
How can I backup my images?
There are several ways you can backup multiple copies of your images. First and foremost, download them to your laptop or desktop computer. This gives you one copy of your images, which ok but not a full solution. In the computer hardware arena, there are those computers that haven’t failed but will fail. So storing your photos on an old laptop as the only location is just not a good recipe for success. Here are a few other ways to backup your photos for redundancy.
Purchase a USB drive or portable hard drive
This is a great, cheap first step to having multiple copies of your images. Each time you have photos you’ve taken or had taken, organize them into folders by event name on your computer. Then copy (not move) those to your USB drive or portable hard drive. This gives you a copy on your computer and one on the external drive. You can then store your external drive in a safe or elsewhere for safe keeping.
Use a cloud syncing service (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc)
If there is one service that is in abundance on the internet, and that is Cloud file syncing services. Without getting too technical on the topic, it basically works like this. You choose a service, in this example lets use Dropbox. They are one of the oldest file syncing services on the internet, which means they know their stuff about file syncing. You can signup for a Dropbox account for free and get up to 2GB of online storage included. This amount of space is fine for some photo storage but you’ll run out of space quickly. Their most popular plan ($99/year) gets you 2TB of storage and many features I won’t bore you with here. The service works by installing software they provide to you on your computer. During setup, you choose a folder to sync and any file that is put into that folder is copied to the Dropbox cloud. So you have a copy on your local computer and also in the cloud on Dropbox, making TWO copies of your images. Add this step to the USB Drive option above and now you have two local onsite copies and one offsite copy. You can also install Dropbox multiple computers to sync that one folder from computer to computer to computer. So if your computer dies and USB Drive is lost, you have a copy of your images on Dropbox. Or if for some reason Dropbox lost your data, you have two local copies in your possession.
Signup for a computer backup service
This option is usually more affordable than file syncing services but access to your data is not as quick. I personally recommend a backup service called BackBlaze. The last time I checked it was $70/year per computer you want to backup. Once you signup for the service and install their software, it will sit quietly in the background and backup every single file on your computer. The storage they give you for that one computer is also unlimited. So if you have photos from a session on your computer, they will get backed up to the BackBlaze encrypted systems (not even they can see your data). If your computer dies, just get a new one, login to their website and restore your data. This is the cheapest and easiest method for backing up your data and photos without thinking too much about it. I use this service for my personal and business data. It has saved my rear a few times.
To summarize, backups are an important part of the data we all collect in our digital lives. I am educating you on the photo side as a business owner but there are a lot of digital aspects to our life we need to keep safe. The main point I want to drive home is have multiple copies of your photos. Don’t just blindly trust some online service that could shut down tomorrow. Have local copies so you are in control of them. If you take anything away from this more technical article, please place importance on keeping your digital memories safe. Your future self and future family will thank you beyond words.
Link to services mentioned (and a couple more) are below if you want to check them out. If you ever have questions or recommendations, don’t hesitate to reach out!
File Syncing Services
Computer Backup Services