Technology is great but it’s not perfect, at least not yet. It can fail you when you need it most and if you failed to prepare yourself for such a scenario, you may find yourself devastated. So, it is critical to regularly create a backup of your data and files, especially if you’re a photographer.
If there’s one thing that photographers are most concerned about, it’s keeping their files safe and ensuring that they don’t fall victim to drive failures. It is crucial to have a reliable storage or backup system to keep them from potentially losing everything they have worked for over the years.
You will have peace of mind knowing your cherished photos are safe and protected. In this article, we will answer the following questions:
- How do photographers back up images online?
- What are the best backup solutions for photographers?
Thankfully, 2020 offers you more options than you might have thought possible. We will show you how to develop a storage and backup strategy of your own.
Why Photo Storage and Backups Are Important
Media professionals and photographers deal with large amounts of media content and images. It is therefore essential to have a system in place to preserve their data. We’re not just talking about your photographs. You also need to protect all important files including your financial documents, workshops, presets, and actions, among many others.
Consider for a moment what would happen if your drive fails unexpectedly. What will become of your photos and files then? Did you back up everything to the cloud or on another drive? Do you run your backups on a daily, weekly, or continuous basis? The problem is that some people think that their backups are up to date until something goes wrong. They will then notice that they don’t have a lot of recent files in their backups and that some important files are unavailable. This is when they will realize that their backups are several months old.
Pause for a minute and re-evaluate your backup strategy. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you modify and improve your backup system plans.
What Are the Best Backup Solutions for Photographers?
As I’ve already pointed out, there are a lot of great options available for backing up your digital data as a photographer. It can be confusing to choose from a variety of options flooding the market regularly. From SSDs, external drives, and cloud storage, to DAS and NAS systems, it can get overwhelming trying to understand what they all mean. However, not to worry, we will explain each of them to help you decide on what’s best for you.
1. Cloud Storage
As technology continues to advance, cloud services are becoming increasingly popular options for backing up digital files. By now, you might wonder, “What is the best online photo storage in 2020?” Well, one of the first things you should consider is cloud storage.
Cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s One Drive offer you a small amount of cloud storage space for free with a payment plan to increase the storage size if you wish. Another popular online storage platform is FileWhopper. With this option, you only have to pay for a one-time file transfer fee.
Cloud storage platforms work by regularly syncing all your devices to cloud servers over a network connection. This ensures that you can conveniently access your files from any device and download them from any location, as long as you have access to the Internet. This is especially useful because you can activate the auto-sync feature, which saves you the stress of manually backing up files yourself.
However, while cloud storage platforms are continuously growing in popularity, they are not for everyone. For example, Google Drive offers you 1TB of storage space for free. However, considering that as a photographer, you most likely have a collection of more than 25,000 RAW images. Of course, you’ll need more than 1TB to store them. So, Google Drive’s free storage might not be adequate for you. You might decide to upgrade to the paid plan, which offers you 10TB for $100/month but the convenience of this plan will depend on your budget.
Although you can get 2TB worth of cloud storage on Google for around $10 /month, One Drive and Dropbox will offer you 1TB worth of storage space for the same price. If you shoot videos in addition to taking pictures, these smaller plans will not be convenient for you because you need much larger storage space.
In addition to this, if you are looking for a way to send large videos to your clients or collaborators, these monthly subscriptions are not so appealing. Security is also a key factor. In such cases, you need a cloud storage platform that allows you to store really large files for up to 90 days with only a one-time payment. With FileWhopper, you can upload videos and photographs of any size with absolutely no limits. It encrypts files during transfer and gives you a password that grants you exclusive access to uploaded data. Without the password, nobody can download or view the files. There is also no monthly subscription. You make a one-time payment based on the size of the file you wish to upload and that’s it!
Another factor to consider when using cloud storage for backups is your location and the speed of your Internet connection. If you are working or staying in a rural area where internet access is a unicorn, then cloud storage will not work so well for you.
2. External Hard Drives (EHD)
If you decide to store your files locally, external hard drives are one of the ways to go. Most photographers need to have a dedicated storage device in addition to the primary internal drive in their computers. Having at least one external hard drive as an extra storage device is important. The good news is that most EHDs are cost-friendly and affordable. You can get a quality one between the ranges of $80 to $150.
What to consider when choosing an external storage device:
- Brand options – There are reliable brands in the market that you can trust. LaCie, Seagate, and Western Digital are among the top three. LaCie is especially popular among Mac users. Before making a choice, you should read the reviews for each brand to decide the one you are most comfortable with.
- Decide what physical size you can work – External hard drives come in two major sizes: portable drives and full-size drives. If you will not move around with your EHD, then full-size drives are best for you. You can just have them sit on your desk. Besides, they are more cost-effective in terms of storage size to price ratio. However, if you work a lot with a laptop and will be moving around very often, then you need a portable EHD that you can easily slot into your bag.
- Decide what storage space works for you – The primary consideration when buying an external hard drive is the storage capacity. We recommend you get a storage drive bigger than what you think you might need. This is because as time passes, your storage needs will grow faster than you initially planned. My recommendation is to go for drives that have at least 4TB of storage capacity. If you decide to go for full-size drives, then we recommend going even bigger – get a 6TB or even an 8TB.
3. Solid-State Drives (SSD)
SSDs are modern state-of-the-art storage devices. While most external hard drives are built with spinning drives, solid-state drives are designed with no moving parts. This makes them more resilient than spinning hard drives. They are also much faster when it comes to data transfer speeds. Therefore, if you’re looking to improve your computer’s primary operating drive, they are a great choice.
While SSDs have become much cheaper over the years, they are still more expensive than traditional spinning drives. For example, a solid-state drive of 2TB costs around $300 while a portable external hard drive of the same size costs around $60!
It all depends on your budget size. However, I believe that as the years roll by, SSDs will become less expensive and more realistic to use for storage drives.
4. DAS and NAS Storage Systems
For those of us that have huge and tremendous amounts of data to store, a Drobo or similar device might be the ideal choice. They come as boxes containing multiple hard drives working together as one drive. These drives are arranged in arrays. They use what is known as RAID technology to mirror information to each other. If a drive in the unit fails, you can simply change the affected drive without losing a single file.
These devices come in two main designs: DAS (Direct Attached Storage) and NAS (Network Attached Storage). The DAS model connects directly to your computer while the NAS model connects over your home network. These devices offer more storage space and redundancy even though they are more expensive than standard external hard drives.
The two most popular brands known for this technology is Drobo and Synology. While Drobo produces both NAS and DAS models, Synology produces NAS models exclusively. However, if you are tech-savvy, then you will find the NAS alternative produced by Synology to be more appealing. They come with more advanced features that will appeal to your techy senses! The downside to NAS and DAS devices is that they are quite expensive. For example, a typical setup containing four 4TB drives (providing more than 12TB worth of storage space with redundancy) costs about $1,000.
What to Keep in Mind about Backing up Your Photos
Whatever option you decide to go with for storing or backing up your photos, videos, and other important files, you should keep in mind that hard drives fail. They do so without warning and can leave you stranded if you don’t plan adequately. You have to ensure you are fully backed up at all times because anything can happen. For example, drive failure, theft, loss, water, or fire damage can occur. Even the backups of your backups can get caught up in any of these unexpected scenarios.
A recommended strategy that you can use is the 3-2-1 technique. This strategy involves having three copies of your digital files, where two are available locally, and one is kept off-site.
What Is a Backup?
A backup is an extra copyof your files/data from a particular point in time. If you have the only available copy of your photos in an external hard drive, that is not a backup, it’s a storage device. In addition, cloud syncs and RAID redundancy are not exactly backups either, especially if they are holding the only available copy of your files. What happens when the files on your EHD get corrupted, you lose access to your cloud storage service, you mistakenly delete your photos from these storage devices, or your NAS/DAS device refuses to turn on?
The 3 Rules of backups you should remember
- Backups should be complete.
- Backups should be automatic.
- Backups should be redundant.
1. Local Backups
One of the easiest ways to back up your data is with a NAS/DAS device in addition to automated backup software. Automated backup software comes in handy because, well, life happens! It is easy to forget to backup your files regularly and before you know it, weeks will turn into months. MacOS comes with TimeMachine that allows users to automate backups. Even Windows 10 comes with a File History feature that is handy in backing up user data. Macrium Reflect is another handy software that you can use to restore your entire computer.
While local backups are great, they can fail you if they get stolen or damaged in a fire or flood incident. That’s where off-site backups come into play.
2. Cloud Backups
Cloud storage platforms come in as the easiest solution to ensure off-site backups of your photos and files. If you are performing a cloud backup for the first time, it will take anywhere from hours to days depending on your internet speed and the amount of data you are backing up. However, it gets easier after that because the app comes with an auto-sync feature that will automatically backup new or changed files. This feature keeps your backup recent and up-to-date because only a small amount of data needs to be backed up daily.
Two popular cloud services known for backups are BackBlaze and CrashPlan. While CrashPlan is more expensive than BackBlaze at about $120/year, it gives users more control over their data. BackBlaze, which costs about $60/year, will delete your version history if you delete a file or leave your drive disconnected for more than 30days. So, if you routinely have your drive disconnected for months at a time, CrashPlan is for you.
3. Other Off-site Backup Options
If cloud services are beyond your budget or you have a poor Internet speed, another option is to back up on another EHD device. You can then keep this third EHD with a family member or friend, or store it somewhere in your home in a safe that is both waterproof and fireproof.
These are just some of the most secure options for creating a backup of your photos. If you have suggestions or comments, feel free to share them below!