Are you at risk of losing your images? Think about it for a minute. What would happen if your computer died, or if your hard drive crashed? I’m not going to be able to completely cover this complex topic in just a Blog, but I hope to give you some things to think about. Rather than tell you how you should backup your images, I will explain my system and hope it gives you some insight into how you can protect your images.
I use Lightroom to import and catalog my images. Upon import a copy is saved to my computer’s hard drive as well as a 2nd copy backed up to an external drive. After import into Lightroom, I take a few minutes to add keywords and location data to the images. In regard to an external drive, when I travel I bring a small USB3 external drive but at home I use an external Sata docking station with a 1 TB drive. After I have made the backup I power down the external drive. I know some people keep their backup drive(external) running whenever their computer is running, but if you’re doing that you are also putting a lot of hours on that external drive and likely reducing its lifespan in the process. The idea is for your backup drive to survive the death of your computer.
The next step is to move images to my Network Storage. I use a device made by Synology that holds Four 2 TB drives. The device is configured so that if one hard drive dies it can be swapped out for a good drive and no data is lost. This drive is a little slow and I would not recommend it for primary storage. But it seems dependable and after about 2 or 3 years of use I have not had any problems. The reviews on Amazon are quite good compared to another popular option for Network Storage.
In regard to Lightroom it is also a good idea to back-up your Lightroom catalog. I do this on a different drive within my computer, then periodically move a copy off to my Network Storage.
Lastly I make a backup of all my image files at the end of the year and move this drive off site. If something bad were to happen here at home my prior years images are protected.
One possible option I have not explored is using archival DVD’s. This option would not practical for me, it would involve way to many DVD’s. But if you have a few images that you consider your best work, this might be an option.
What about Cloud Storage? Considering that I shoot up to a terabyte of data each year, cloud storage is just not economical. However, for my iPhone images it’s perfect! After I finish processing an iPhone picture I send a copy of the finished picture and the original to Dropbox right from my phone.
I would not suggest that my way is the best way or the only way to achieve safe storage of your images. But it’s a system that fits my budget and works for me. The important thing is if you value your images, you need to have a backup strategy.