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What’s your backup solution?

Back up your filesPINIf you’re a photographer, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll have a card or hard drive crash within 48 months or less. What’s your backup solution?

If your answer is anything that excludes online backup, you’re risking catastrophic failure. Yes you’ve got the latest RAID system and 10 redundant drives in your office or studio, but what happens when there’s a fire or flood? Or worse, what if someone breaks in and takes all of your external drives?

Three of my external hard drives have failed

As one who has spent the last 12 years of his life in the IT industry, I can tell you data protection is a top priority for all businesses, and certainly for mine. In the last 2 years, three of my external hard drives have failed. Not once did I cry naked in the fetal position in my closet. Do you know why? I knew my files were still in the cloud. As soon as I purchased a replacement drive, I downloaded my files to the new drive.

Currently, I have 4 external drives connected to my 2014 Mac Pro (the one that looks like a trash can). All drives, including my internal, are backed up to my online backup service.

The bottom line is we want to back up our data in a redundant way so as to minimize the risk of total loss. No system is foolproof, but since protecting the integrity and availability of your backed up data is what makes online backup services money, you have an additional advocate who is trying to protect your data.

Online solutions are the (best add-on) solution

Take a look at some of the benefits you get with online backup solutions:

  • Backs up your external drives
  • Files are virus scanned automatically
  • Your files are available to you no matter where you go
  • Incremental backups so that files you deleted 60 days ago are still available to you (caveat:  some companies like BackBlaze only mirror what’s on your drives, so if you delete it from your computer, it’s deleted off the server after 30 days)
  • Your files are encrypted
  • Backups are off-site, meaning your files are save no matter what happens to your computer or home

This is not to say online backup is a panacea for all of your backup worries, but it certainly addresses most of the risk. All of this for less than the cost of a Tall White Mocha at Starbucks per month.

backupsPINWhat I look for in an online backup service

Most backup services are similar in what they offer, but I prefer those who continue to retain your files even if you’ve deleted them off of your local drives. I’m not always 100 percent sure I want to delete a file, so it’s nice to know that, like Huey Lewis and the News, I can go back in time. When comparing which service is right for you, you might want to verify the service offers:

  • File retention until YOU choose to delete
  • Automatic backup of external and/or networked drives
  • A grace period for when you cancel so you can still download files you need

If you choose to switch to another backup service, start the new service and upload your files while you still have your current service active.  Some backup services delete your files immediately upon cancelation, and knowing that it can take up to two months to fully upload all of your files to the new service your backup status could be in jeopardy while you wait for the upload to finish.

Final word of advice: while I didn’t take advantage of it the first time I used online backup, several services offer a “seed option” for an extra fee where they mail you a hard drive, you fill it with your data, and return it to them for immediate backup. This is much faster than uploading for the first time unless you’re lucky like Petra Herrmann and have Google Fiber.

Lance Taylor

A former Korean translator and cyber warrior (yes, that's a real term) for the Air Force, Lance took up photography in 2002. Lover of meat, hater of cilantro, and owner of two tri-pawd dogs, he spends his time photographing clients, friends, and models. Occasionally, he writes things on Facebook, and by occasionally, he means regularly, loquaciously, and prodigiously. He attempts to have more happy days than unhappy and surrounds himself with positivity.

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  • May 1, 2014 - 3:11 PM

    Nuno Figueiredo - Great article and i also believe this is the best current méthod.

    Would love to hear which company is your favorite and why ?

    Thank you


  • May 1, 2014 - 7:50 PM

    Lance Taylor - Thanks Nuno! My favorite is CrashPlan for the reason they retain your files even if you delete them off your hard drive. Sometimes when I THINK I want to delete a file, but I’m not 100% sure if I’ll never need it again, I feel okay deleting it because I know I can always restore it from CrashPlan.ReplyCancel

  • May 1, 2014 - 8:51 PM

    Petra Herrmann - CrashPlan Pro baby! For the very same reason, I can yank a drive and throw it into archives and my files are still in two places. Between that and the affordability it’s almost a no-brainer.ReplyCancel

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