Have you ever heard said someone say “It’s not if your computer crashes but when your computer crashes.”? It’s not any fun to think about but we need to talk about backing up our photos. I recommend having at least 2 copies of your photos but really you should aim for 3 or more.
Ian’s computer crashed a few months before I was pregnant with Kate and we lost ALL our photos of our “pre kids” life. I learned my lesson. A few month ago, my laptop’s charger started to act funny. It was my third one so I was convinced it was my computer not my charger. Being the “googling” fool that I am, I searched for answers. I found a forum that told me to hold down certain keys and restart my computer because this would “fix” my problem. Unfortunately, my laptop has not turned back on since I did that (well, it turned on for about 24 hours and then stopped working again). This past week, I finally stayed up late enough to call the company and get some phone support. After a half hour of trying she told me the thing no computer or photographer wants to hear – Your hard drive is fried. You would think I would have started to cry. Luckily for me, I had taken ALL my photos off that computer about 6 months earlier and put them on an EHD (external hard drive). Phew! I told her thanks but luckily I hadn’t lost a thing!
Let’s talk about different ways to backup photos.
1. External Hard Drives (EHD) – These are wonderful and fairly inexpensive for all the material they can hold. I actually keep all my photos stored on my EHD – External Hard Drive for Mac. I also have a smaller one that I use as a backup for my main one – My Passport for Mac plus one I can travel with and have access to all my photos. The thing about EHD’s is they crash as well. I was just reading a thread on a forum last week about how someone’s had crashed. This is why I say it is good to have more than one system.
2. CDs – Yes, these are a thing of the past now that EHDs are more popular but they are another way. I actually have all our photos from 2004-2007 saved on CDs in our house and I gave a copy to my parents to have at their house in case (God forbid) our house burn down. CDs are cheap and take some time to upload but you will be thanking yourself later.
3. Prints – Now we are getting really old school right? I mean who prints photos anymore? I DO!! And you should to!! It PAINED me when I took my last photography class and my teacher said she hadn’t printed a photo in 4 years. I couldn’t help myself and started to yell at her. Please, please print your photos! You know how passionate I am that you should share these wonderful images and memories but you will also have a hard copy of your photos. You can read more about Photo Labs here. Plus, when your little one comes home from school and says their teacher needs a photo of them from when they were a baby you can easily find a print of it instead of searching your computer and THEN printing it. Besides, there is something to be said about having your photos printed in your hands. Please do it! Even if it is just your favorites (which is what I do). Set a schedule that the first of each month you will pick your top 20, 50, or 100 and get them printed. Even if they just get placed in a photo box at least you have them. If you don’t want just “prints” you could always do a digital photo book.
4. Online Backup – There are many companies out there that you can pay a yearly fee to have your computer backed up daily on their servers. I am currently using Backblaze. When they do the initial backup I’ve heard it can take up to a month. However, I’m on month 3 of the initial backup and it isn’t even halfway there. Just to give you an idea of how sloooooooooooow my internet it. I even convinced my parents to sign up with an online backup company. The best thing about this is once you pay your fee you sit back and do NOTHING. You can schedule daily backups that the company will do automatically. Again, if your house burns down (God forbid) everything on your computer is saved somewhere save and easily recovered. Also, check the companies policy on backing up EHD and how long they save the material if you do not keep your EHD hooked up continuously.
5. Online Photo Backing Up Sites – There are so many sites out there where you can upload your photos to keep them safe and have one more backup. There are a lot of free ones like Flickr and Picasa. Personally, I use SmugMug. Again, there is a monthly or yearly fee but it has some great settings that I appreciate. I am able to upload my full resolution of my photo and put it in a completely secure, password protected folder. My family is able to view the photos and even download the full resolution for printing. This saves me the headache of having to email them when they find one they like. Hopefully, it prevents them from pulling off my websize versions to print (Mom!). If you have Lightroom, you can easily export your photos to SmugMug with a click of the button. I don’t use that option right now (internet too slow) so I try (stress try) to upload them about once a week.
There you go. No more excuses. There are 5 different ways to backup your photos. It would pain me if I received an email from one of you talking about how you lost your photos because you didn’t back them up. I know one of our readers, Amber @ Amber’s Articles told me a while back how her grandmother’s house burned down when she was younger and they lost all their family photos. Don’t let that be your story.
How do you backup your photos?