A few days ago a friend asked what I used for photo backups. He and his wife recently had a baby, and he wanted to make sure that all of the photos and videos they were taking would be safe in case of a hard drive failure.
Ali and I have a handful of printed photos of our niece and nephews, most of them are photos that were taken by a professional or at a studio. All of the other photos of the kids are on Instagram, Facebook or stashed away on their parent’s, grandparent’s aunt’s, uncle’s and friend’s phones. Maybe some of them get backed up to a computer. But probably not.
The photos of my sisters and I when we were kids are actual photos, on paper, in albums, and let’s be honest, bags and boxes in the basement. There are a ton of photos of us, but not even a fraction of the photos people take now that there is no issue or limits with digital photography.
The only dangerous part about all those digital files, is hard drive failures. That’s not to say that physical photos are 100% safe. They are susceptible to fire, flood, bugs or rodents eating them, and the elements. Photos of my parents from when they were kids are faded and frail. Going back even further to my grandparents, those photos are falling apart. Digital is definitely the winner here.
However, the failure rate of hard drives is something everyone should worry about. And with more and more of parts of our lives becoming digital, backups are more important than ever.
This goes for more than digital photos though.
Ali and I keep a handful of important papers and documents in a firesafe in our house, but everything is scanned, backed up digitally, and is stored in more than one location.
My backup solution(s)
I have a 1 terabyte hard drive. That’s a ton of storage. I use about half of it right now. My next computer will probably have 2TB hard drive data. Possibly even more.
Sitting behind my monitor is a 1TB external hard drive, which I use as a Time Machine back up drive. If you own a Mac and you don’t do Time Machine backups you are doing yourself a huge disservice. You can buy a 1TB hard drive on Amazon for about $100 (this is the one I have). Time Machine backs up my hard drive several times a day, and it saves versions of files. So I can go retrieve an earlier version of a document that I may have screwed up later in the day, or worse, lost or deleted. As of today (October 10, 2013) I have backups going as far back as May 27, 2013. The older backups are deleted to make room for new backups. It’s not a permanent or long term backup storage, but it is more than enough for me, or most users.
There’s a saying with backups, and that is if you only have one you have none.
If something happens to my house, like a fire, flood, hurricane, alien invasion, whatever, my computer AND my backup are gone forever. Or, as Ali’s family says, it’s a gone pecan (it the south, those words rhyme).
To save your backup from aliens destroying your house, you need an offsite backup, too. After some research (and a smoking deal last Black Friday), I went with CrashPlan (I went with the CrashPlan+ Unlimited plan). Like Time Machine, CrashPlan backs my computer up several times a day. The best part about CrashPlan is that I can access my account and backed up files on my iPhone or iPad so I can retrieve documents on the go.
So there’s my backup solution. Local backup via Time Machine, and cloud back up via CrashPlan.
But yeah, I’m a crazy person, so I am not done there.
As many of you know I am a photographer, and I take a lot of photos. I have over 18,000 photos on my computer. I would be devastated if anything happened to those photos, especially any of the hundreds (or more) I have of all the kids.
Just look at those kids. If my hard drive failed, I would lose every single photo that I have of those awesome people.
Because of that fear, I also use Everpix. For $5 a month (there is also a free version, but it doesn’t keep a backup of all of your photos) I back up all of my photos to Everpix. They don’t back up Raw photos (which I just started shooting in), but with my other backups it’s not the end of the world for me. Everpix also has an iOS app so I can show my photos to people on my iPhone or iPad without having my computer next to me.
Eight years ago I bought a 1GB USB thumb drive for over $100 (and it was on sale). This summer I bought a 32GB thumb drive for less than $20. The point is, storage (both physical and cloud) is cheap. Add to that the many companies out there making backups so easy to set up and run, if you’re not backing up your important documents, photos and other files you’re asking for trouble.
The CrashPlan and Everpix backup services that I use cost me $10 combined a month, that’s a cheap price for peace of mind.
So that’s my backup solution. A local backup via Time Machine, a cloud backup via CrashPlan, and a photo-only backup via Everpix. Granted, I go overboard, but this stuff is important. I urge you to utilize at least one of the services I linked to in this post.