In a digital world – our data is our business. Without our images or our client database, we don’t have a business. How protected are you in event of data loss?

I would say at least once a month our backup systems save us from some form of data loss. That could be that a memory card has corrupted on us, we accidentally deleted a file we shouldn’t have,¬†or on a couple of occasions where we have been sitting in the office and can literally hear a hard drive die on us (lots of clicking and a little squeaking usually!). On one occasion we even had a computer stolen, which if it hadn’t been backed up would have involved data loss. (sadly it did with our holiday photos ūüôĀ )

STORAGE vs BACKUP

Storage:¬†Storage is somewhere you store your files. This could be on the hard drive inside your computer, an external hard drive or even a cloud drive (wouldn’t recommend that!). These would generally be the main copy of your files – the ones you would use if you needed to access them.

Backup: A Backup is a copy of your stored files. Your backups are there in case something goes wrong with your main files. At least one copy of your backups should be fully independent from your main storage, so not in the same building, not connected to the same network etc.

TYPES OF BACKUP

On Site Backup This is a backup of data at the same location as your storage, such as external hard drives, archive drives etc

Off Site Backup This is a backup of your data at a different location as your storage, either using an online service or physically storing drives somewhere else.

Full Backup A full backup is pretty much as it sounds Рa full copy of the data you want to backup.

Incremental Backup An incremental backup just backs up anything that has changed since the last backup.

WHY AND HOW TO BACKUP

Hopefully the ‘Why’ to backup is simple. Things fail. In the 9 years our photography business has been running, we have had at least half a dozen hard drives fail on us. If we didn’t have backups, that could have had catastrophic consequences for our business. Hard drives are new extremely cheap to buy, so there is no reason not to have all of your data backed up AT LEAST once, but we would recommend¬†at least 1 on-site backup, plus an off-site backup.
There are devices and software that can help keep your data backed up and safe, and¬†we have more information below on the cheapest ways to backup without getting too complex below. But first…

We Recommend BackBlaze
BackBlaze is $5 a month or
$50 a year.
You can use a ‘Personal’ account,
we checked!

WHY DO WE DO THAT….?

There’s no point in telling you what we do, without telling you why – so here is our reason behind each step…

Studio Hard Drive – RAW Backups
By backing up our RAW files at the studio immediately, this will firstly give us an off-site (from the office) backup of the RAW files, but also instantly let us know if there is a problem with the memory card, allowing us to revert to the backup memory card in the camera.
Main Computer
This is where most of our editing work is carried out – so this is where our most current (less than 6 months old) files live.
Network Drive
This not only gives us a backup of our main computers files, but also allows us access to any of our files from our laptops.
Online Backup
Our online backup means that even in there is a major catastrophe in the office (flood, fire, theft etc) all of our files are still backed up off-site (in a different country!)
Archive Hard Drives
Photography uses a lot of hard drive space! Our archive drives are just regular hard drives, which are either connected to a machine or stored in a cupboard. For files up to 2 years old, we keep two copies of the drives. For files older than 2 years, we only have a single copy, and that is safely stored on-site.

WHO DO YOU AND DON’T YOU BACKUP?

We backup all files to do with the business. So photos (RAW & Final JPGS), graphics, documents, accounts, plans, templates, actions, presets etc etc…
We DON’T backup software, system files or operating systems. Our reason for this, is that it would be quicker and easier to download and install our software from scratch than it would to add that extra load of data to our online backup system and take up valuable hard drive space on-site.

FAQ’s

It’s questions time! If we have missed something – let us know and we will add it!

What Equipment Do You Use?

Studio Hard Drive > Samsung (Whatever is a good deal when we need it)
Computers > iMac and MacBook Pro’s
Network Storage > Apple Airport Drive (because it was free, but it is FAST!)
Online Backup > CrashPlan and BackBlaze (soon just CrashPlan, but we recommend BackBlaze!)
Archive Drives > We use internal hard drives (3tb) usually WD or Seagate, and then use USB Docks to connect them when needed.
This is a very cheap and easy way to have lots of drives.

Why do you recommend BackBlaze but use CrashPlan?

We used BackBlaze for years. They are very good, and are more than capable of handling the needs of most photography businesses. However, we are members of the Guild, who offer a great deal with CrashPlan. The CrashPlan goes beyond the scope of our BackBlaze plan, and is better suited for our setup (we run 4 businesses!)
BackBlaze is very affordable, and to get the same level of service from CrashPlan independently, then you would be paying a lot more. If you are a member of the Guild, we would recommend you look at their CrashPlan option!

Why keep files for that long?

There are a number of reasons, but the biggest one is a legal obligation. Under the Consumer Rights Act, your clients legally try to make a claim against one of your products up to 6 years after the date of sale. If in that process you need to recreate a product, you need to have the files to enable you to do it!
There may also be the opportunity to WOW clients by being able to replace images which they may have lost or damaged in some kind of disaster.
You never know – you may even want to look back on images you took years ago.

What software do you use to backup / sync?

We use FreeFileSync to synchronise and backup our systems. It works on Windows and MacOS, and it’s free!
It is packed full of features, many of which we don’t understand, but it works great for us!

Where do you buy stuff?

The majority of our hard drives and docks come from eBuyer. Their customer service is brilliant!
Please note – if you use Mac, some USB Docks are not compatible – we recommend Anker products for Mac users!