Three Methods of Backing Up Digital Photographs

James Maynard - November 29, 2012 | Archiving, Backup, DAM, Digital Asset Management, Online Photo Backup, Photography Equipment, Photography Gear, Photography Tips, RAW Photos, Storage

Protecting digital photos is a priority in today’s world. We hear horror stories of people who have rushed into burning buildings in order to save photo albums, only to perish themselves. And although, that may be extreme, preserving digital photographs is a way of saving our own memories. You never know when your computer may suffer a mechanical breakdown or virus that will wipe out all the photos on your computer, or make them inaccessible. But how to you preserve digital photographs, making sure that your photos will survive in perpetuity? There are several ways of backing up your digital photos, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.

The first of these is to purchase an external hard drive. These are fairly inexpensive, as you can purchase a one-terabyte drive for around $100. The advantage of these is that being connected directly to your computer, it is a breeze to back up your digital photos to such a drive after editing. There’s also plenty of space for all of your images. However, because the drive is attached to your computer, it can also be subject to viruses (although unlikely) and mechanical failure. Also, being on the same site as your computer means that should your house suffer a fire or break-in, the external drive containing your digital photos can also be lost. This technique can be a great first line of defense in preserving your digital photos, however, it should not be relied upon exclusively.

Many photographers choose to have redundant arrays of external drives. These drives are typically bundled together in a RAID 5 or RAID 6 type of mirroring. If you are technical you can deploy a redundant RAID system yourself or you can purchase a hardware system like a Drobo that comes prepackaged with this level of redundancy.

The second popular method of backing up digital photos is to save your photographs to CD’s or flash drives. Small flash drives, holding between four and thirty-two gigabytes of photos each, start at just $10. Like an external drive, the backup of digital photos can be easily accomplished, and they are small enough to store off-site, at your work, studio, or at the house of a friend. However, flash drives as a system of backing up photographs suffers from the fact that they are small. That means that you can easily lose the drives, and with them, your precious photographs. And because of limited space on the drives, a serious photographer can easily fill dozens of sticks with digital photos, and they are too small to label easily. That means that your pictures can easily become lost in the shuffle.

One of the newer ways of preserving photographs safely is to use cloud storage. This is simply the process of storing photographs on other computers using an online photo backup services such as Mosaic. Cloud storage services not only allow you to safely store your photographs online should your computer or external drive become unusable for one reason or another, you will still be able to safely and easily replace all your digital photos to your computer.

You can simply restore your digital photo from your online backup source. Of course, like anything else online, if you are somewhere that you cannot get to the web, then you will not be able to access your online photos. However, with free wi-fi available in many public places these days, the times when we are unable to get online are become far less common these days. This makes online photo backup services such as Mosaic a better and better solution each day.

Another benefit of online photo backup is that it is typically automated. This “set it and forget it” method is the easiest and most reliable way to ensure your photos are backed up.

Try different methods, and if you are a serious photographer, have backups of your backups for your digital photographs. When something goes wrong and you still have all your photos, you’ll be glad you took that extra time to preserve your digital photos the right way.