Backup workflow for photographers
Backup, backup, backup. I know that we all know these words and think about them from time to time, but how many of us really have a solid backup solution for our digital files. The honest truth is that a drive will go bad, they are not designed to last forever and if you are just editing and storing your images on one drive you are asking for trouble. I have been changing the way that I backup files for years and am always looking for ways to safeguard my clients important images and also not take a huge amount of time for me to maintain.
I wanted to share my backup process from the time when we shoot the images to archiving. If anyone has suggestions on others ways to backup please share in the comments. I am very, very cautious when it comes to my images. Some might say overcautious but I think when it comes to a wedding shoot its better to be safe than sorry.
This is my process for backup’s for weddings, other types of shoots are a little bit different but not much. At the wedding we don’t do any backup, a wedding is so busy and full of a million things racing through your mind. If you are going to make a mistake and drop a card or misplace one that is more likely to happen at the wedding vs. the calm of your office the next day. I always keep my cards in a pouch on my hip so they are safe and secure all evening long. When the shoot is done the cards are put in a fireproof safe until they are transferred to a drive.
I first download my cards to a “work drive” on my computer. This is a separate internal drive that just has the shoots I am currently working on. Once they are downloaded I also copy all of the images to a small external drive that goes back in the safe along with the cards. Normally I don’t format a card until the shoot is edited, backed up and online (didn’t I say I was pretty cautious). After the images are processed through Lightroom and Jpeg’s saved, I copy over all of the RAW and Jpeg files to a NAS device (Network attached storage). We use a Ready Nas NV+ which I just love (here is a link to check it out on amazon: NETGEAR ReadyNAS NVX) It is so easy to use, alerts you of errors and when you are reaching capacity, just a great system. I’ll be doing a separate review of the Ready Nas tomorrow so if you are interested in one of these check back.
Our Ready Nas is setup to use their X-RAID system which basically keeps one of the drives as a backup. So for example if I have 4 – 1TB drives in the unit, one of those drives is used as a backup and then I have 3TB of free space. This way when a drive goes bad (like one just did for me last month) all I have to do is pop out that bad drive, replace it with a new one and viola! everything is just as it was. It’s kind of like techie magic.
So now I have my RAW files (with .XMP settings) and Jpeg files stored on a device that automatically has a backup. My final process is to upload these to our online proofing company. They store a backup of the final processed Jpeg files so we always have a off site copy. I’ll delete the images off the work drive leaving me with all the photos in 3 places: my small USB drive in a safe, my NAS drive and my off site backup. Another great thing about using a NAS device is that it’s expandable so you can hold many TB’s of info or many years of shoots. When I have a client from a few years ago that need a photo or wants to do a wedding album I don’t need to search through boxes of DVD’s or search through a stack of old external drives.
What’s your system like?