Backing up as you go forward

July 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Recently when I upgraded my version of Adobe software and the thoughts of back-ups came to mind. We have all heard many people tell stories about loosing all the photos because their storage drive crashed. Eventually everything will end up failing, for some that occurs more often than for others. As a photographer, backing up ones photos should be as natural as brushing your teeth - it's just something that you do without question.

Not that long ago photographers' only choice of media was film.  With film you only had a single copy of your image so photographers went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of their film. Foreign correspondents would use safety deposit boxes at hotels to store their unprocessed exposed film while out on assignment, photographers in hot climates would pack their film in picnic coolers to prevent damage. When I traveled by air it was the norm to have your film hand searched to prevent it being damaged by the carry-on baggage x-ray machines. Studios would have special cabinets to store their negatives in case of fire. Negatives were considered very fragile but in reality as compared to today's digital image world the negative is actually pretty tough. Digital image files are very fragile, even though most of us don't think that they are, the apparent reliability of digital images gives us a false sense of security. So with that in mind here are a few suggestions on how to protect your digital image files.

When importing files from the CF or XQD card into my editing software I always make a second copy. Thanks to one of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom features making a second copy while importing the images files is super simple. About the only drawback is that making a second copy does slow the import process a bit but its time is well spent. The principal applies whether at home or on the road, make a second copy...always. Using external drives while on the road will allow you to have plenty of storage, a master and a back up plus you can take one of them drives with you which might prevent all of your hard work disappearing should you find your hotel room cleaned of its valuables 

Dual drive i,port setupAdobe Lightroom after importing some images from a shoot. Showing the two external drives, one the master, the other the backup and the compact flash card reader.

A few years ago a personal experience proved the worth of backups. After returning from a trip to Paris there was a few images that were taken on the way home and I wanted to add them to the library. So I set up the laptop and proceeded to import them to rest of the images. I'm going to blame the next part on being really tired and jet-lagged but for some reason I decided to format the CF card while it was still in the computer (no,no! don't do that!). Instead of selecting the CF card I choose the external drive and formatted it. Yes, the external drive with all the photos from the shoot. I tried a file recovery program was unable recover all the images, thankfully my backup drive was just fine and saved the day. Phew!! That was close.

It is important not to forget backing up you catalog file.  The easiest way to accomplish this is by setting Lightroom up to ask about making a backup copy upon exit and then get into the habit of quitting Lightroom when you are finished for the day.

Some people might think this to be a bit over the top making multiple copies of the images and the catalogs, but just think for a moment of how many hours you have invested in taking the photos and how much you have put into editing your work. A backup takes only a minute to setup and can save you many hours and loads of embarrassment and lost revenue.

A better way to safeguard your images. It is not enough to simply to just have a second copy. Photographers today are using redundant drive array storage devices and the newest thing on the block is online companies that offer protected storage for photographers images. While some of this is out of the average consumers reach it is an option for the professional.

Remember, backing up is time well spent and if you want to keep it, back it up.

 


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