It’s every photographer’s worst nightmare: losing a couple’s wedding photos. Oh, it’s hard to even write!!! We know that in ‘freak’ circumstances, data loss is unavoidable; corrupt CF cards, fire, failed hard drive, etc. This used to cause us a lot of stress until we finally faced it head on.
The only way out of this problem was to face two undeniable facts.
Fact 1: there is no 100% guarantee that our photos will make it to our clients. Both cards in both of our cameras could fail, or our RAW, JEPG, online storage, + PASS galleries could become corrupt (we hoping you’re seeing how unlikely it would be for all of this to happen–but the reality it is, no matter how small the odds, it could).
Fact 2: there are ways to minimize this risk. If only one of us was shooting, the chance of losing photos, although still slim, increases. If we only backed up our photos with our computer + external hard drive, our chances of losing photos, although still slim, increases.
We realize that there is probably a lot of debate among the photography industry about how to back up photos, but we wanted to share with our clients, as well as other photographers (or anyone interested in backing up their own personal photos!), our process of backing up images. If you are a client, we want you to know we have thought through this. If you are a photographer, we want you to think through this for your clients! After all, it’s all about serving them! We are also opening the floor to any questions, suggestions or improvements : )
THE PROCESS (Pre-Edit)
1. To start, we only use the top-of-the-line CF + SD cards in our cameras. We exclusively use SanDisk Extreme Pro cards. They have great read + write speeds, are temperature rated to -13ºF (-25ºC) to 185ºF (85ºC), + they are shock proof/x-ray proof/waterproof. They are a bit pricey but we think it’s worth it to invest in the high-end card from the company who invented it!
2. After our pictures are uploaded into Adobe Lightroom, we back up the RAW files to our RAW external hard drive. We use LACie Rugged Thunderbolt drives.
3. Next, we back Lightroom + the RAW drive with Time Machine (which is always re-updating itself).
4. The final pre-editing step is to back up our RAW external hard drive, computer hard drive, + time machine external hard drive using Crash Plan (cloud based cold storage)
5. After these steps are complete, we feel comfortable formatting our CF + SD cards. It is important to format the card instead of deleting the images to preserve the integrity of the card.
THE PROCESS (Post-Edit)
1. After the photos are culled + edited, we export them as JEPG’s to a folder on our separate JPEG external hard drive.
2. We then back up our JEPG drive with Time Machine, Crash Plan, + PASS (a gallery for our clients that backs up photos for 10 years).
. Whenever we leave our home for an extended period of time, we store all of our external hard drives in a fireproof, waterproof safe : ) … you know, just in case!
And, that’s pretty much it! We know it seems like a lot of work sometimes, but we truly believe in the saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!” Redundancy is key! Getting a system down helps with the ease of the process.
As we see it, if one of our CF cards fails on location, our SD cards will suffice. If both cards fail, we have two shooters! If our computer hard drive fails, we have back up copies on external hard drives + in cloud storage. If a client loses their photos, they have their PASS gallery (+ we have them backed up on external hard drives + cloud storage just in case ;)).
We hope you find this article somewhat informational : ) We really, really love what we do. But we also realize the big risks that come with it! We do everything in our power to ensure that the memories we capture will last decades upon decades … upon decades : )