Today I wanted to share with each of you the MOST IMPORTANT thing I could about memory keeping and that is creating a Backup Plan for your files.
I know you don’t think you will need one or you can put it off. Please don’t. I’ve received so many emails since I started teaching backup from thankful readers and students who took the time to backup and were protected from file disasters because they did. You just never know what can happen…
You don’t think it will happen to you or anyone close to you, but last fall one of our close family members experienced this:
We are so grateful they weren’t home when it happened. Computers and hard drives were completely gone. The firefighters were able to save many of their displayed photos, yet if it wasn’t for a family blog, they wouldn’t have many of their digital images. You can read more about it here.
The lesson is this – we all think we have the time and don’t have to worry about backup. The truth is we never know what can happen. It may not be a devastating fire but just a simple hard drive failure. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
So today I’m sharing my full lesson on backup which will give you everything you need to know to protect your files. I hope you take the time to create a backup plan!
Let’s talk about THE MOST IMPORTANT part of any memory keeper’s system: Backup. In fact if I were an evangelist, and could only preach about ONE thing, this would be it! If there’s only ONE thing you take from this and change about your photos let it be valuing your photos enough to get a backup plan.
Believe in backup enough to have automatic off-site backup. Believe enough that you have automatic backup on an external drive. The keyword here is AUTOMATIC. If it isn’t auto, you probably won’t do it.
It still amazes me that every time I write about backup plans here I get emails and comments from readers saying they are going to start their backup plan. A few months later, I write another post and get comments from the same people saying the same thing! Please don’t let your story be the same. The saddest comments I get are the ones about how readers thought they would “get to it soon” and then never did.
Why You Need Backup
According to a study by Gartner in 2006 annual failure rates (AFRs) for desktop computers are about five percent in a computer’s first year, and twelve percent in its fourth year. The same study found that laptop computers have an annual failure rate of 15 percent in the first year and 22 percent by the fourth year. Additionally, laptops are more prone to theft and loss. The FBI, Gartner and others estimate laptop theft rates at between three to seven percent. However, either way, desktop or laptop, if a thief steals your computer and peripherals you lose everything.
I could write a long drawn out post explaining my different methods of backup, but if you’re anything like me that would put you to sleep, so I created this visual picture of how things are currently working in my personal backup plan:
The first part of a backup plan is having a local backup. For Mac users I recommend Time Machine. For Windows users I recommend Syncback Pro. The most important part of both of these solutions is the word automatic. Your backups need to be happening on an automatic basis without you thinking about it! I also recommend getting an external hard drive specifically just for backups.
Local backup is a great plan but it doesn’t cover all the bases. You could still lose your data to theft, fire, flood, earthquake, etc. Your best bet is to have another copy of your data off-site. My favorite solution for off-site backup is an online company called Backblaze. I’ve used three online off-site backup companies through the years and Backblaze is my favorite for the following reasons:
- My backup is truly unlimited for one set price.
- I can backup my external hard drive no problem.
- It’s the fastest I’ve found. Backblaze developed a unique FSCAN Engine that ensures no slowdown of your computer. How fast you can backup is limited only by your Internet connection. Typical home connections can backup online 2 – 4 GB per day. Backblaze provides a throttle option if you want to use more or less of your Internet connection.
- I don’t have to tell it what to backup – it figures that all out automatically. In fact, Backblaze de-duplicates, compresses, and backs up incrementally to backup online as efficiently as possible. Have the same photo stored twice? Backblaze will de-duplicate to back it up just once; if you restore, it will be put back in both places. Have some large files? Backblaze will compress them when possible. Change a file multiple times? Backblaze will only back up the changes.
I know there are other online backup companies many of you use for your backup: Crash Plan, Mozy, Dolly Drive, Carbonite and more. Bottom line – in my experience I’ve not found a faster and more complete solution than Backblaze.
Another option for off-site backups is to have duplicate USB local drives backed up with Time Machine or Syncback and then regularly switching them back and forth with an extra drive from a family member’s home or place of work. This can work and it is better than no off-site plan. However, it isn’t automatic, so there is a big chance it won’t always happen.
The thing I love about online backup is everyday that software program is looking and finding changes to my hard drive and backing them up – so I don’t have to worry at all about it! Do what works best for you. Again the most important thing to remember is just finding a solution – ANY off-site solution!
The only thing I archive from my photo library are project folders. For example, when I shoot a season of basketball photos, I will often move the non-relevant photos to my archive drive. Another example would be a senior session done for a friend. After processing and sharing the images, I will archive my copies.
I not only backup to an archive drive, whenever I export to the drive, I also backup the information to my Archive Backup Drive. This way in case either drive fails, I am safe. The one thing about this drive is that if it is ever stolen, I would lose the images. However, because these are photos in the past that don’t have much relevance to my current photo library, it is a chance I’m willing to take.
If you want to learn more about protecting and organizing your digital images or scrapbooking supplies, just scroll down to the bottom of the page here.