With World Backup Day having just passed on 31Mar, I thought it would be a good time do write a little about backup. In N.Ireland, there have been a few high profile cases of photographers having had images stolen. We also rely on hard-disks so heavily now – and in my experience you tend to have a hard disk failure at least once every few years.
So here is the system I have developed for backup – its not the only way to do it but it works for me…
1. Don’t use large memory cards
Memory cards are pretty reliable these days – but every now and then one becomes corrupt or fails. If you are using a very large card, that could spell disaster for an entire wedding. I use cards no larger than 4GB. That stores 200-300 pictures. So if one fails it would be bad, but not a total loss.
Over the years I’ve also been advised to:
– Always format the card before use (don’t just delete the files).
– Don’t delete images in camera – just leave them on there
– Only use good quality, branded cards (I use Sandisk)
2. Backup at the wedding
Most professional cameras now have 2 card slots. I have my second slot set to backup. I have my 4gb card in slot 1 and a 16Gb card in Slot 2 backing up the RAW files. Its actually really handy when you come to upload the photographs to the computer – as you can use the one backup card. If your camera doesn’t have two slots, you can get a storage unit such as an Epson P3000.
3. After the wedding – use a RAID system
After the wedding, backup to a good RAID or similar system. These systems usually have a number of hard-disks, and if one fails automatically keep the data safe on the other drives. Personally, I have a DROBO system. Its got 4 x1.5TB hard disks. Its fairly expensive – but worth it for the peace of mind. If you can’t afford a RAID system, then make sure the images are on two separate drives.
4. Always have an off-site backup
You can have all the systems you want, but if your stuff is stolen or in a fire, you’ve got to have an off-site backup. I have a 2tb drive for each year – and I keep a copy of everything on them. I use a piece of software called chronoSync to keep everything up-to-date – it’s as simple as plug ‘n play. I then keep these backup hard-disks in a good Pele case – which stays in my house or car. I do the sync after each wedding, which in my case is about once a week.
Not all information is as important as wedding photographs. I have lots of other information such as price lists which I simply backup using Apple’s Time Machine. You could also use an online backup service for these files ( I sometimes use Mozy ) if the files aren’t too large and your broadband is decent. Conclusion I find backup and storage to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be – you could as easily burn multiple DVD copies. But as you get busier, the time involved in manual systems becomes a nuisance. Good backup offers peace of mind – and ensures your customer’s precious photographs stay safe and secure.
P.S…. and for the doomsday scenario, make sure you have good professional indemnity insurance. You should never need it, but its worth having.