Back it up! -Backups save the soul
There is this awful feeling – you put your heart and soul in to creating a set of photos, only to have them gone for some technical reason. Backups tend to minimize this. When people have to evacuate their homes, almost always they take their family photos. How important are your photos? What are you doing about it? Remember Murphy was an optimist; the gremlins will show up at some point, it is just a question of when….
Let’s contemplate the uncomfortable and look at where things might go wrong.
- In the camera: I had a compact flash go bad after a weekend of shooting it was 128 GB so that it held the whole weeks worth of shooting. Yes the manufacturer replaced it for me, but the weekend was lost and could not be recovered. This is an uncommon event, but it did happen. I now have a camera that puts the photos on 2 memory cards, not one.
- Between shooting and home: This area is high risk, the number of things that could go wrong are large
- Camera stolen or lost (or the storage is stolen or lost)
- Accidentally deleting the photos to make more room
- Images get corrupted on the media
- I’m sure your mind can create many more scenarios.
- I have a Hyperdrive device that I use to make a copy of the photos after I take them so that I have yet another copy of the photos. This way if I am tired and goof, I have that much more of a safety net under me.
- Once at home we can in tiredness fat finger and delete the wrong files or the wrong directories. I have done this one too…
- Somewhere down the line the disk crashes and photos are lost. This has happened several times over the years – shame on me
- There is an earthquake, fire, tornado, etc and the computer is lost with all of the photos.
Although there are two general themes to the losses, external cause, and user error, the net result in both case loss of the photos. Each of us needs to decide what is it worth to have backups of the photos. There are a variety of solutions with pros and cons. Below are some of the ones that I am familiar with, this is not to say that there are similar or possibly better solutions, just the ones I am familiar with.
- Hyperdrive is a nice solution to make a copy of your media while you are in the field, and potentially allow you to re use your media. It is easy to use and very reliable. The only downside is that media are getting larger faster than disk space is, so my 128 GB camera media now can only be saved 4 times in my 500 GB Hyperdrive. The only risk is being tired and deleting something you didn’t want to delete.
- Local raid array on computer. Although this sounds nice, having tried the computer’s raid option twice on different computers, I have found that this is a false sense of security. In each case when there were computer problems the raid array was corrupted and the photos lost, not because of disk problems, but that the solution was not very reliable.
- Dedicated hardware raid array. This requires that you are comfortable working on the insides of a computer so is not for everyone. I like the solution. There is potentially a significant outlay of $$$ for the solution in buying the controller, the disks, a good UPS system. I have found from using this solution that it is vulnerable to power fluctuations and having a UPS goes a long ways towards decreasing disk failures.
- Synology NAS solution. This is a box that sits next to the computer and is connected to the computer with a network cable. It is easy to use and install. It does require buying the hard disks separately. I have used a variety of hard drive and vendors over the years as I keep increasing the size of my storage. I am very happy with Western Digial Red drives. They have been the most reliable drives that I have ever had.
- And finally BackBlaze, this is an online backup solution. If there were a fire, I need an off site copy of the photos. I have looked at several online solutions for backing up photos and with the exception of Backblaze not been happy with the solutions. Often they become very expensive to store photos (figure 10TB of data), or they rate limit how quickly I can upload data (so that once beyond a threshold there is no more data uploaded. Backblaze is very reasonable at $5/month, nor do they rate limit the upload, which is good, because it still takes a long time to load that much data across the net.
I would recommend a Synology solution and Backblaze solution for anyone looking at backup solutions. If you don’t have an an automatic method now, you will have some soul pain in the future.