My photo backup strategy

March 28, 2019 by GordonM in Blog gear 0 comments
My photo backup strategy

There was some discussion on one of the photography forums about what photo backup equipment someone should use. To me, it’s not just about the equipment. It’s also the methodology of how …. and where … you backup. So anyway it got me thinking that I’d write a bit about how I manage my files.

Many people swear by them I know and they really do have their place in a corporate environment, but I have never liked RAID or NAS units for the simple reason some (maybe all) use a brand-specific bespoke Operating System (OS) and software backup programs which to me means the way they store files would be incompatible if I moved it over to a different brand either to upgrade or to recover a crashed unit. Maybe some don’t use bespoke OS and software but I have never bothered to complicate things by finding out which ones don’t, and only use those ones, which to me would be a vulnerable point if for whatever reason they were no longer available or supported.

So I keep it all nice and simple and use external portable 2TB and 4TB hard drives formatted to FAT or NTFS, that way I can attach the drives to any of my macs or PCs, or other peoples computers.
I use a variation of the good old-fashioned grandfather, father, son principle of backup so in essence 3 exact copies across 3 drives, one of those drives stored off-site. The SD card with the photoshoot on there acts as my 4th temporary backup until I’m sure everything is all safe across the 3 identical drives.

I also have different discs for different files (eg. two discs for models (Model names A-J and K-Z), one disc for a specific model/muse, one disc for agencies work, one disc for my photos (eg. weddings, family, personal work and projects) and one disc for general files (eg. business accounts, software, etc)).

And because I use Adobe Lightroom, I also have catalogues for each set of photos and this is stored on it’s respective disc. Having multiple catalogues help speed up Lightroom and reduce the size of the catalogue, having 4 small catalogues is much better than one enormous catalogue. Also consider that Lightroom catalogues by default are stored on your computer main hard drive so if your Windows PC or Apple Mac crashes, then you will lose your Lightroom catalogue. Unless that is you have the computer backed up automatically with something like Time Machine for the Apple Mac and the equivalent for Windows.

So overall, yes, I have shot a lot of photos. So in total there are 5 master discs + 5 backup discs + 5 off-site discs. And because I store away everything photo-wise (RAWS, JPEGS, PSDs and their corresponding XMPs), I find cloud-based solutions slow so don’t use that option. Besides disc storage is so cheap by comparison to the cost of losing your photos or business, even if you have 15 discs 🙂

I have found GoodSync to be a good program for synchronising discs, either automatically or manually.

Yes, I could be considered paranoid about file management and backups. But I know that if a client, an agent, a bride or guest, or a model asks for a photo, then I have it stored away safely and it can be quickly/easily found and sent on it’s way via Dropbox or WeTransfer.

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