Calling for backup

A few years ago Seattle-based photographer Chase Jarvis produced a short video explaining the steps he goes through in backing up his photos when on an extended location shoot.

At the end of the day he and his crew copies all his images onto 2 external hard drives. The drives are then stored in the separate rooms of 2 assistants. In case of a break-in of one room, the second drive would be safe.

When Jarvis gets back to his studio, the data from external drives are downloaded to his own multi-drive server and an additional backup drive.

The backup drive is then moved offsite for added protection in case of a disaster such as fire, flood or computer meltdown at the studio. It may sound pretty extreme to the average person or even some other professional photographers, but I bet Jarvis rarely if ever has to explain why their pictures were lost due to a computer glitch.

While you don’t have to go to the lengths that Jarvis does, backing up your photos (and other data) in some fashion is a wise idea.

Many leave their pictures on their camera’s memory card. This is a mistake. Cards can be susceptible to becoming corrupted and whatever data that’s on them can be lost forever. Download your photos to a computer then delete them from the card before your next shoot.

Computers too can also go down. Indeed, my own personal home computer has recently given up the ghost. But fortunately, I had it backed up on an external hard drive.

Hard drives are one way to make sure your photos and data are safe. Another way is to store them on the “cloud” which is a term for off-site data storage services.

Cloud backup has some advantages over an external hard drive. First, data is stored in a remote location. This prevents losses through disaster (fire, flood, etc.) and theft. Secondly, you can access your photos from anywhere. As long as you have an Internet connected device, you can download or upload your photos to or from your backup site. You can share your photos easily with family, friends or clients. Just send them a link and password and they can access them as easily as you can.

That last advantage is a potential weakness of the cloud. While there haven’t been any reports of widespread hacking, there’s always that possibility that your data and photos can be stolen or misused.

You can buy a 1 terabyte hard drive (1000 gigabytes) for as low as $50- $60. Cloud pricing is much more difficult to determine. Some service offer the first 10-15 gigbytes for free, after that, each company has their own pricing structure. Below, say about 100 gigabytes, the cloud may be cost effective. Above that, a hard drive may be preferable.

Do some research to determine what’s best for you but if you don’t want to lose your photos some sort of backup is necessary.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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