Backing up Your Digital Images

Digital Back Ups

Backing up digital images and what do you do?

Today I thought I would write a blog post on backing up our digital files as during the week I had to format an external drive and my first thoughts where “Oh Shit here we go, what am I going to loose, did I back up enough, did I back up correctly, what do others do and if there another system I should be using?

Well I do not have all those answers so I can only briefly explain what procedure I go through with my digital back ups for my images.

After going out on a shoot.

Step 1. Download raw files on to main computer hard drive

Step 2. Burn these raw files to DVD/CD depending on file size. I only use TDK Gold Disks yes they cost a little more and maybe its a throw back to my youth when my vinyl records where played just once and recorded onto a TDK SA-X 90 tape or Metal tape. The good old days when we had 12 inch records with killer artwork and something read and look over for hrs while you played the record or tape, but I digress back to the back up task, we’ll talk about 12 inch records another day for any of the oldies here. Yes they do sound a shit load better to those readers under the age of 40, they just do period.

Step 3. Transfer raw files to a external drive that just stores Raw files in dates and locations filing.

Step 1-3  Summary. 1 copy on disk 1 copy on external drive 1 copy on Mac hard drive

Step 4. Select series on images to process and once processed save to Mac hard drive

Step 5. Transfer processed images to a external drive that just stores processed files in date and location filing system.

Step 6. Burn processed files in date and location filing to a DVD disk again only TDK Gold.

Step 4-6 summary 1 copy of processed images on External drive 1 on Mac hard Drive and 1 on DVD disk

Step 7. Transfer all raw and processed images in location and date filing another external drive separate to the Raw and Processed external drives. Currently this is not stored off location but will be very soon.

Problem ? Currently Mac Drive is getting mighty full, what are my options? yet another external drive? Am I going over kill here is there another method I should be looking at? Should I be looking at some online back up storage company?

So in the end I have 3 copies of everything and my time spend burning and backing up is very time consuming as I always use the slowest speed to burn disks for security reasons.

What is you method?

About Neal Pritchard

TImeless landscape photography prints by Neal Pritchard
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12 Responses to Backing up Your Digital Images

  1. Great post Neal. I blogged about this back in Jan and have been wanting to write a followup but time got the better of me. Here’s my post:

    Basically I have two live copies in-house on 2 different harddrives and I have now stopped burning DVDs for onsite storage. I use Amazon S3 for offsite storage, I have a complete copy of all data on Amazon servers using the brilliant front end Jungledisk –

  2. kirkhille says:

    Nice post mate ,
    I have to get a better work flow going and some better filing happening .
    At the moment I only have a copy backed up to my hard drive and external hard drive . Fillings a mess at the moment , planning on sorting it out when i have a few days free

  3. Luke Austin says:

    Good post Neal. How do you mark your cd/dvd’s? Any specific markers?

  4. jAMES says:

    Yes interesting post, I have lost 8 months worth of photos due to an external hard drive going bung. Recovery didn’t work either.

    You can go all out and have a copy off site as well.

    Flemming’s offsite idea looks good though bandwidth is slow in perth and costs a fortune.

    Digital photoshop techniques had a section on this in their last magazine. They interviewed a couple of photographers.

    Wonder what fletch’s backups are like as he probably has a lot to loose if anything happens to his files.

  5. I just use a black permanent marker Luke. I label it either Raw Files Location/Date or Print Proof Location/Date 1.0

    If I go back say and re-edit a print proof for some unknown reason, I burn a new disk and make new folders on the external and mac drive called Print Proof Location/Date 1.1

    Hope this helps

    This may all be overkill or underkill I don’t know I was just throwing it out there to see what others do.

    Great info Flem. I have looked into online back up but have not done anything about it. Something about letting others have control of my raw files does not sit to well with me, maybe I just need to look into it more.

    Would be interesting to hear what others do for their back ups.

  6. thomasparkes says:

    I copy all of my Raw images onto my harddrive and put them in dated order, Year/Month/Date.

    Once processed I store in location specific, I do need a better system.

    Then every now and then I back up onto my new 1TB external, 200GB external and sometimes my 80GB external.

    I do recommend 1TB’s so much space.

  7. merv french says:

    I download with Bridge (CS3) and it auto backs up to 2 750gig external drives and auto adds copyright info at the same time. When I get around to working on the images I run a slide show, delete what is not needed, work on image ,down load it to 1 of the hard drives in a new folder then delete originals from that drive. i still have the originals on the other drive . i try and keep the computer hard drive as free as possible.

  8. With Amazon S3 your data is very safe, but if you wish using Jungle Disk you can simply encrypt everything!

    I love knowing I have a 100% backup, updated automatically weekly that is offline stored offsite so that if disaster strikes I can re-cover. I can also access all my files via the JungleDisk webDAV client (or JungleDisk web interface) right here on my laptop, so if I get an image sale while I’m in Australia I can actually find and download the file and deliver the image – on the other side of the world compared to my office!

    You do need fast upload though, something like 2-4 or 6gbit or you’ll be waiting a loooong time.

  9. I will write a new article when I get the time but basically I would recommend

    1) One or preferably two 100% synced copies on external harddrives

    2) Off-site storage, burn DVDs and get a mate or something to store them – or the best way, using Jungledisk and Amazon S3 to have off-line storage online.

  10. So essentially you have 2 copies of every image Merv, you find that is enough? I have 3 and sometimes wonder if I should not go the route Flem does and also have a online backup.

    I have not used bridge to download or to auto back up, how is that set up to be done? I download files by using a card reader. I thought that was the norm?

    Flem i think I will look more closely at those online storage options as well.

  11. Geoff Pritchard says:

    Nice question, after browsing a few websites I stumbled across this one which actually has some decent question and responses.
    Basically we own a photo manipulation business and trying to stretch this out to doing landscape etc.
    We have a lot of files that we save and back up, some images are up to 1.4 gig.
    We hold three external drives and save all our designs to those until the job is complete then burn to disk and store externally at another location in case of fire etc.
    The computers are backed up once a week but do not save anything to their hard drives unless it is programs etc or on the laptop when out and about. (I had the unfortunate pleasure that the macbook pro died earlier this year and lost a lot of stuff.)
    We also swap/ discard the external drives every year and transfer the remainder to the new one just in case there is a problem and in the current market I can get a 2TB drive for about $250.00 in Cannington WA. Whilst this may be a little excessive the computers run 24/7 and gives me the piece of mind that there is a less likely chance that thinks will go splat.
    We thought about online storage but meet someone that was given space as a promotional purchase only to learn that there was a “unknown” expiry on it. they lost everything including a lot of tax stuff. Their comment to this was we are not responsible blah blah and can not get it back for you, your problem…. other providers may be different I guess, i just like to have control thats all…..

  12. Your question is interesting… What method do you use? Before the fire I backed up my files with CD’s, thumb drives, and with free services like Flickr. After, the fire I realized the only files that survived were the ones that were online, in places like Facebook, Flickr, my e-mail account, or in the care of someone else. I have since looked into services to backup online. I am not familiar with Amazon3 and some of the other ones mentioned. The problem I run into is where do you backup Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign files. Are FTP sites the way to go or where should I turn to?

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