A lot of readers have been asking me lately about my backup strategy. We simply cannot talk about the importance of photo back up enough.
At this point there is simply no reason not to have a strong backup strategy in place — and yet when I talk to some of the most talented photographers that I know I find that their work as often as not is not backed up. I’m not sure if it is because photographers are more creative types and would rather focus on fun things like actually taking pictures vs. dealing with icky boring things like back up, but it is simply imperative and terribly important.
All of my own photos are backed at present. I have over 5.5 terabytes of personal storage. This sounds like alot, but do you know how cheap personal storage has become? Right now at Amazon.com (sold out at B&H; Photo) you can get a Seagate 750 GB external hard drive (Seagate as photographed above) for $259. 3 years ago this would have been unthinkable. This is the best value per GB that I think I’ve ever seen.
Even with very large 20MB huge RAW files from a 5D, a 750GB drive like this will hold over 38,000 photos. Most people don’t have 38,000 photos so a drive like this is more than enough.
In fact, I’d recommend that you actually buy two of them — use one as a constant back up at home, and use the other for remote storage. This can be kept at your office, or at a friends house. In my case I keep a backup copy of all of my finished photographs on a hard drive at my parent’s house down in Los Angeles as well. Every time I visit I bring my current back up and swap it out for the old one. This way I’ve got three copies of all of my finished photos and one of them is remote.
Earlier this year my parent’s garage burned down. I’m glad their house didn’t burn down as well, but fires happen, which is why an offsite drive makes sense to duplicate your back up efforts.
I have three of these Seagate drives and love them. I highly recommend them (disclosure, Seagate does sponsor the Photowalking show that I do with Robert Scoble and gave me a free one once, but I’d already been a happy user of the two that I bought for myself).
I’ve tried many different hard drives, Maxtor, Cobra, Western Digital LaCie (LaCie’s are the worst) and Seagates have always performed the best for me.
The hard drive you have your photos on now *will* fail. Guaranteed. It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when. So do yourself a favor and if you’re work is not backed up, start backing it up.
Some have said, well why not just DVDs. I personally don’t like this strategy because it’s too much of a pain in the ass and because of that it doesn’t end up getting done as often as it should. With an external hard drive it’s portable and you can just drag and drop whenever you want to back things up. I organize my photos by day, so I can just drag over each day’s photos onto a back up drive.
Consider this blog post your public service announcement for the day. If you don’t have a back up drive, go buy one.