World Backup Day is March 31 and, whether you’re reading this before, during or after that day, it’s worth taking a few minutes to examine and evaluate your backup strategy. You do have one, don’t you?
World Backup Day aims to raise awareness of the need to properly backup and better secure our data. It is sponsored by a number of the big companies the sell products to backup and secure our data, but that isn’t a reason to discount this annual event.
Studies show that, worldwide, 60 million computers will fail this year and more than 200,000 smart phones are lost or stolen every year. If you’ve never had a drive fail, count yourself lucky, so far. All drives will eventually fail and even relatively new ones occasionally go on the fritz. And we can’t hardly go a week without hearing a story of some major data breach.
Can you imagine losing all of your photos? Not just the edits you’ve carefully made, or the metadata but the image files as well? It would be disastrous!
What’s a person to do?
Three, two, one
The most commonly recommended backup strategy is the three, two, one method. Have three copies of all your data. Keep your data on at least two different types of storage media. Store one backup offsite.
One of the three copies can be your working copy and reside on your computer. That’s easy.
So, you really only need two backups. One could be on an external drive, in the cloud, or on Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks(RAID).
Keep one somewhere else. It could be at home, if you typically work from an office (or vice versa). It could be at a friend’s or relative’s house. It could be in a safety deposit box at your bank. Or you could store your backup in the cloud, with something like Backblaze, Amazon, Google or others.
Having an off-site backup prevents you from losing everything if, God forbid, a tornado, fire, or flood destroys your office or home. If you decide to create a backup in the cloud, know that it could take a while. At first, your backup will be fast but, after a while, your ISP will begin to throttle your upload speeds and a full backup of a large bunch of photos could take months. Once it’s done, however, it’s fast and easy to stay up to date.
If you’re storing a backup drive off site, you have to remember to periodically swap it out with your on-site backup so both are kept reasonably up to date. Once a month might work. Having to remember each month and go get them and return them can be a pain. That’s why many find it easier and more effective to go with a cloud backup as their off-site option.
Looking for more details? Frequent contributor Jerry Ginsberg wrote about how his backup strategies evolved from file cabinets full of negatives and transparencies to a fully digital, three, two, one workflow as he strove to “Save the Pixels,” and protect his archive of imagery.
That’s a lot to keep track of
There are a number of software products that can manage the copying and storing of your data, but not the three, two, one process. Mac computers have the Time Machine app built it, though there are some issues with it. Windows 10 and 11 machines shipped with a Backup and Restore function, which also has some issues. Carbon Copy Cloner and GoodSync are well reviewed backup solutions from third-party vendors that simplify and automate the processes and avoid some of the inconvenient aspects of Time Machine or Backup and Restore.
Whatever your choice, make sure your precious photos are backed up thoughtfully and stored safely. If you can’t afford to lose them, you can take the time and resources to protect them. World Backup Day is a good reminder to examine your backup strategy or to create one.
Frank Gallagheris a landscape and nature photographer based in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in providing a wide range of photograph services to nonprofit organizations. He manages NANPA’s blog and can be found online at frankgallagherphotography.com or on Instagram @frankgallagherfoto.
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