One of our most valuable possessions is now not a tangible item such as a family scrap book or heirloom, it’s your digital photo library. Often digital photographs are not printed anymore, they are only viewed in digital form and therefore there is only one copy of this valuable possession. Because of its value it is a good idea to make another copy, just in case an unfortunate event happens.
Firstly – Identify the dangers and minimise the risk.
Risk 1: Fire and flood – the chances of this happening are low but the results catastrophic.
Risk 2: Electrical surge- again the chances of this happening are low, particularly if the electrical supply is protected by circuit breakers and not fuses, but the results catastrophic.
Risk 3: A straight forward HDD failure – All HDDs fail, it’s just a matter of when and where.
Risk 4: Theft.
Risk 5: Human error – erasing by mistake, copying from camera card to computer going wrong.
Risk 6: Physical – dropping the HDD or knocking it.
Secondly – Evaluate your options/solutions
There are three main options to making a backup:
- A backup to another storage device that is then stored locally.
- A backup to another storage device that is then stored at another location (offsite).
- A backup to the internet (the cloud)
Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages:
It’s usually the cheapest to maintain but does not protect against fire, flood or theft.
This is what businesses do to protect their data. It sounds high tech but can be as simple as making a copy to a mobile disk drive, using automated backup software to prevent mistakenly overwriting the original files, and keeping the copy at work, your parents’ house, a friend’s house or at a neighbour’s. Many external USB hard disk drive come installed with automated backup software.
It protects against every risk but it quickly becomes out of date and is takes more effort to update.
This is often the most convenient, especially if it is automatic but is often not cost effective if the photo library is large.
You can back up to an internet backup service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Carbon Copy Cloner etc or specialist photograph storage service like Smugmug or Flickr. Due to the large size of the files or number of files, these are probably not idea for the whole of your photo library but definitely are for your best and most valuable photos.
Remember, keep it simple, automated and regular.