The Importance of Backing Up

Importance of Backing Up

Back in the day we had film, shoe boxes full of negatives, and albums full of 4x6” prints.  You looked after those treasured memories keeping them on display, on the bookshelf, hidden away in the cupboard or under the bed.  No matter where they were they are always at the forefront of your mind for the unlikely event of a fire or other catastrophe, you would grab these along with your loved ones.

As technology has changed dramatically over the past decade we have all of our new memories in digital.  You may have thousands, even hundreds of thousands of images and videos stored on your phone, tablet, laptop, PC, USB sticks, and hard drives.   

Real World Experience

Recently my old man started to digitize old photos by scanning in the film negatives and 4x6” prints to store them on an external hard drive.  Generally this would be fine except all the old negatives and prints were discarded to the trash, yes the physical trash bin not the little icon on your screen.

Now I wasn’t aware of this until Dad called and asked how to get your data back when your laptop crashes soon after opening a suspect email.  So dad’s laptop and his data, including the connected external hard drive, was being held hostage by scammers. 

Everything was gone including the original negatives and prints.

What’s your plan for storage failure and loss of files?

So what happened to my old man can be avoided through back up management.  Now this is something that I am quite passionate about as I have thousands of photos of my family and thousands of images I have taken professionally.

Back up importance and process

A back-up system doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult and there are many ways to back up but the two main methods I will mention are hard drive cloning and cloud storage.

Firstly cloning of hard drives is the simplest form of backing up.  You can do this manually by dragging and dropping from your PC to the hard drive, or you can use software to automatically back up new files for you.  This is probably where a lot of people stop with one copy of their hard drive attached to their computer. 

But I recommend you make another copy of your back up hard drive and keep that somewhere else, preferably offsite such as your office or a mates place.  You will need to regularly swap these drives over, and depending how often you add new images and files to your PC this maybe weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Cloud storage is another option for backing up where you upload the content of your PC to an online source such as iCloud, Backblaze, or Amazon Glacier.  There are many options and they will range in price and capacity, and you will want to check each one for your own requirements.  I have trialled cloud storage previously and it didn’t work for me, the initial upload of my storage system would take about 3 months of constant upload with an NBN50 plan.

Do some research and find out what is the best method for you.

I have a 1TB and 4TB drive attached to my computer, which are swapped out regularly with identical hard drives containing the same files.  I have HP Smart Ware backup software which handles the file upload automatically from the multiple hard drives inside my PC.  Put simply there are three copies of each file; one in the internal hard drive, one on the external hard drive, and third on another external hard drive stored offsite usually at the office.     

Printing for future generations

How do you currently enjoy all those memories?

Back in the old days, actually probably only a decade ago, we used to have prints and even something called slides.  These were around with vinyl records, cassette tapes and compact discs – remember those?  They seem to have gone the same way as beta, floppy discs, mini-disc, and soon to be USB sticks, in favour of digital files.

Do you remember as a child finding an old photo album and asking your Mum or grandfather who the people in the photos were, or even your own children may come across an old photo of your younger self?  That doesn’t really happen anymore with images stored deep inside your computer, locked behind your phone screen, or stuck on a USB stick sitting in draw.

How will your kids and future generations look back at these images?

What do you do with your photos, new or old?  I love printed photos, having something real, something you can touch and hold, share, or pass around.  While I don’t print everything, I have my favourite images printed and placed in albums, on the wall, and of course many digital copies saved in many locations.

I don't have many images left of myself growing up.