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Backup, Backup, Backup

So yesterday I wrote about questions you need to ask your photographer at your initial client/photographer interview. Most of those questions revolved around backup and what backup contingencies the photographer had for your wedding day. But now for the tough question, what backup plan do YOU have? Let’s set the scene, your wedding was a huge success, you have received your images from your photographer and with the images you have a disc of digital files. What do you do? Most people will email a few around, post some to Facebook or Google+ then likely put the disc back into the drawer. Some will go a step further and copy them onto the computer, maybe into some photo management software like iPhoto or Picasa. But what is your backup plan? Don’t be fooled, those burnt DVD discs you have from your photographer have a real world life of around 6 months to a year.

This is not just for your wedding photographs it’s for all your photographs, all your important documents, your music library everything that is now stored on your computer. Are you prepared for that day that your pc won’t start or you don’t hear that start up chime from your Mac?

How are your images backed up?

I will not dwell on this too much I understand this after all is meant to be about wedding photography but I take backup very seriously. Computers fail, discs degrade and people lose important files all the time.

Backup can be very simple. If you have an Apple Macintosh you have backup software built in. Simply visit your local Officeworks or JB-HIFI and buy a 1 terabyte drive plug it in and let Time Machine do the rest. Windows PC’s also have built in backup software but to be honest my experience with it has been not very favourable. I would suggest one of the free utility’s from a third party such as Hinxsoft or Comodo Backup.

Having 1 backup is a start, but working with hard drives on a day to day basis I can tell you that they fail and quite often. I like to work by the rule unless my images exist in 3 different locations they don’t truly exist yet. So here’s how I work, I have my Mac Pro with drive dedicated purely for my image library, I have a second drive in the Mac Pro which is a backup of the first drive. I then have an offsite hard drive I bring home after every wedding, portrait session or whenever I done any shoot to update it.

My backup workflow is simple. I return from a wedding and import my memory cards into the computer. I don’t erase the cards yet but now I have 2 copies of the images, I don’t start work on the images until I have 3 copies. Once the import has finished I have a program called SuperDuper which then clones my primary photo drive to my backup drive, I also have this clone task automated to happen every night at midnight so any work I have done during the day is also backed up. I still do not erase the cards yet as I have my 3 copies but know I feel safe to start working on the images. Then within the following day or 2 I retrieve my offsite hard drive and do a final clone of the primary hard drive. I can now delete the cards and I have my 3 copies.

It may sound intense but these are people’s images and memories I am storing so as I said I take it very seriously. It also is quite simple to do and back up needs to be simple or people can’t be bothered with it.

Now I don’t expect too many people reading this to go to that length, I wish everyone would but in reality most people won’t. So what’s the minimum you can do to make your images safe and with little fuss. Well I have mentioned Apples Time machine, it works well and is simple to setup. And the Windows backup software is good as well. If you do not have an automated service like Time Machine then set a reminder on your calendar to do it once a week or once a month. Even if you did a backup once a month had your hard drive failed you have the potential to lose a few weeks’ worth of photos not everything. It’s a pain but is not a disaster.

The internet also offers some great backup services. 2 that spring to mind are Backblaze and Carbonite. These are services which copies your data to their backup servers. Both services cost $50 per year per computer and they run in the background so you don’t even have to think about it. But if your drive or computer fails you can easily login a restore from your back up.

So what would I suggest for people to do? I can think of 2 different plans of attack. First for both plans go and grab that cheap USB hard drive and start your backups today. Now depending on your budget you could grab another USDB drive and store it offsite, at your work or friends or familys place. Or instead of the second drive sign up with backblaze or carbonite. Offsite storage is the key to back up. Offsite backups protect you from fire, floods & theft. So if the worst happens and you are robbed, and they take your computer and your hard drive your images are safe on the duplicate drive off site or with the internet service such as the ones mentioned so when your insurance replaces the lost items you can restore knowing you have all your memories.

Its not just your weddings photos that need back up but all your photos.

One final note on backup, please do not forget your phone. Many of us them as our primary camera for a lot of things, but so few of us actually import the images. If you lose your phone, it gets stolen or needs to be replaced you have lost your images and videos you have taken. Please remember to plug it into your computer every month. Plug into and important your images then they too will be included in your backup plan.

Back is serious business for me. My backup plan ensures I never have to tell a bride I lost her images but what people do with the images once I hand them over is up to them. Please make sure you backup.

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Again if you have any questions shoot me an email at enquiries@warnockimagery.com

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Jeremy