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For Photographers – Digital Backup & Online Storage

Virginia Wedding Photographer : Stephen Gosling Photography

The first thing I want to say is that I am under no illusion that people read my blog, let alone other photographers.  I in no way think that the way I do things is the correct way and I am not writing these posts to tell people how to shoot or how to run their businesses.  I am however going to be writing about my experiences; my failures, my successes, etc.  If these posts help anyone, great!  If not; no big deal.

When photographers shot with film (and for ones who still do) they had to worry about how & where they stored their negatives.  The problem for film photographers before their was digital technology was the fact that with negatives there was only ever one copy.  So they had to make sure that the negatives where stored in the correct atmosphere so as not to degrade over time and also in a safe environment where things like theft or fire were minimized.  These factors are still concerns for photographers in today’s digital era, but things have become far, far easier.

Because of digital technology we are able to store multiple copies of the same piece of date in various locations for a relatively minimal cost so that in the event of technology failure, theft, fire or other circum- or happen-stance we still have the data, and in the photographers case; the image, that we need.

So, with that little intro out of the way, here is how I store my digital images;

1.  First of all; I have 2 external hard-drives where I store all of my images.  I’m currently on to my third pair of drives.  Here are the current drives I am storing my images on.  Drive #5 and drive #6.

Wedding Photographer Digital Storage

They are both 2TB drives, and as you can see, I am a little over halfway through filling them up.  I store the exact same images on both, so in actuality they are both the same drive.  The same data is mirrored from one to the other.  This way their is redundancy in case one of them fails.  These drives are Western Digital My Book Studio II’s.

2. a)  Once I fill up these mirrored drives (and because I am crazy) I mirror them onto a third external hard drive.  See below.

As you can see above.  We have my external drive backups #1 & #2.  These cover my digital backups from Jan 2006 until April 2011.  The G-drive that they are sitting on hold the exact same information that they do.  So as you can see, there are 3 copies of the same information.  A backup for my backup, and a backup for that one too.  And just in-case for some unknown reason, there is a problem with the batch of drives that I buy, I make sure that the 3rd copy (in this case the G-Drive) is a different brand of drives from the first two.  Some phrase about not putting all eggs in the same basket comes to mind.

Above you can see my external drive backups #3 and #4.  And they are sitting on-top of their G-Drive backup.  These drives span from Jan 2011 to July 2012.  As you may have noticed their is a little bit of overlap from drives #1 and #2 to drives #3 and #4.  Their is no harm in this.  I don’t remember why this happened but all it means is that some images are existing in yet another place (redundancy is your friend!).

2. b)  Now – AND THIS PART IS IMPORTANT!!!! – I store my western drives (drives #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and the future drives too) at my home office.  This is location number ONE.  That way, should I need to get an image from one of the drives, they are right on the shelf next to my desk, and all I have to do is plug them in and get what I need.   The G-Drvies (backups of #1 & #2, #3 & #4, and future drives too) are stored in another location.  This is location number TWO.  These are stored at a friends house on their bookshelf.  There is no point in having 3 copies of the same images stored in the same location, because if your home sets fire or some other catastrophic event happens (touch wood that it doesn’t), all of those backups will do you no good as they will all be lost.

3.  Online storage.  This works the same as Time Machine works Macs.  Time Machine works by you having an external drive plugged into your computer and all it does is mirror what ever is on your computers hard-drive.  This is a silent backup system that is always working in the background and will provide you with a backup copy of whatever is on your computers hard-drive should something happen to your computer.

a)  Instead of using Time Machine, I use Backblaze.  It works exactly the same way.  It is an application that runs in the background and is constantly backing up whatever is on my computers hard-drive.  And it has the added benefit of being off-site, which is always a good thing for safety!  The service costs $50 a year and is a small price to pay for the piece of mind it gives.  Go and check them out!  Now!!!

b)  The final piece of digital storage I use is kind of an added benefit I get from Zenfolio.  Zenfolio is the company that I use to upload my client images and sell prints to brides, grooms and guests online.  The added benefit of having this online gallery (in addition to the extra income it provides through sales) is that it is also an additional place where my final client JPEGs are stored.  Everything that is delivered to a client is also uploaded to my Zenfolio account.  And my account has unlimited storage so I wont ever have to worry about images being stored there.


So remember this!  Redundancy is your friend.  The more copies you have of something, the safer you’ll be when it comes to recovering the information you’ll need in event of something unforeseen happening.  Being prepared is never a bad bet!

Contact Stephen about your wedding – stephen@goslingphotography.com
View Stephen’s Wedding Portfolio – www.goslingphotography.com

For Photographers Archive

2013 – Digital Backup & Online Storage, Finances & Outright.com, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

2012 – SkypeEquipment UpdateCamera Straps,  Just Some Books,  Giving Back,  GPS,  Google Voice,  You Need a CPA,  Blog or Website… Or Both?,  My Editing Workflow,  How I Roll,  The worst 10 minutes of my life.

2011 – Where it all Started,  My Equipment,  My New Toy – FujiFilm Instax 210.

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