Launched to raise awareness of the importance of data backup, World Backup Day is especially important to us as photographers.
Whether you take photos for fun or professionally, the devastating impact of losing your images is the same. You could lose years of work, memories and experience. Backup seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many photographers I talk to who still only have one copy of their photo data.
World Backup Day highlights a 3-2-1 backup strategy. This policy states that you must have a copy of your files on your computer, one on an external drive, and another offsite in a cloud or similar storage solution.
However, due to the size of image and video data, this backup solution can be difficult as the costs can be huge. However, there is no rule that you have to have three, just do whatever you can to protect your data, even if it only has one onsite and one offsite. If this solution fits your budget, do it; don’t leave your precious images vulnerable.
In this feature, I’ll take a practical look at backing up data, adhering to the 3-2-1 strategy where I can, but adding a little more to tailor the backup procedure to those of us who take photos and videos. I’ll be looking at the complete journey from memory card to archiving your footage for years to come.
Let’s start with memory cards.
Not all cards are the same and when selecting the card for your camera, be it SD, CFExpress or otherwise, it is worth going with a brand you know and a reputable retailer. Some of the lesser known brands are just fine and just as good as their big rival brands, but do some research and if you’re unsure of a memory card manufacturer’s name, write to us and we’ll approach the company for an exam sample.
There can be a huge difference in card performance and reliability, but for the most part as long as you stick with SanDisk, Lexar, PNY, Verbatim, Delkin, Kingston or other big names you should be fine. to pass.
Then there are the different speed ratings and classes, as well as card types, you can read more about those in the article Best memory cards for video in 2022, so I won’t cover that here. What we cover here is how to make sure you don’t lose your images.
If you are looking for maximum security for your images, a dual card setup is the best approach. This can slow down some things, such as the shooting speed of some cameras, but ultimately, unless you’re tethering the camera, it’s the safest approach to ensuring safety of your image files, at least while you’re shooting.
Most dual-slot cameras allow you to organize the use of both cards in different ways, but if security is what you’re after, a direct mirror of both cards is the way to go.
A quick recommendation for SD cards from us would be the GOLD series of the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II or Lexar Professional 1800x SDXC UHS-II card. You can check the reviews here.
When it comes to CFExpress
Although the two-card configuration offers security memory cards, especially UHS-II and CFExpress, they can be expensive. In that case, a portable storage solution that lets you copy the contents of the card to robust storage might be a great idea.
One option is the WD Passport Wireless; this allows you to download images and videos directly to a secure hard drive. There are two versions of the Wireless Passport. You can check out the full review of the standard and SSD versions here.
Both of these readers also allow you to connect to an iOS or Android device to verify that the download is complete.
Taking this approach is a great way to step back away from home and it’s something I tend to do. Although not part of the 3-2-1 strategy, having a backup of the contents of your memory cards gives you peace of mind.
1/ The first file backup
So you’re back from a shoot, and once you’ve packed up the living room, kitchen, and hallway, made a cup of tea, and listened to the family trip on your kit, it’s time to download the files of the day.
Now these image and video files can be transferred directly from the camera’s memory cards or the WD Passport wirelessly to your scratch disk.
I tend to use a large capacity drive like the 12TB G-Drive because it has a lot of capacity and gives me quick access to my files. I keep my files away from my computer’s hard drive.
When editing image and video files, I copy the files from G-Drive to a working drive. Right now it’s the 1TB OWC Envoy Pro FX with transfer speeds of 1500MB/s; it’s fast, maybe not quite the 2500MB/s of the internal drive, but fast enough for any video editing up to 4K and more than enough for any image editing.
I now have my first data backup on the G-Drive and a separate copy of that data on the scratch disk. This scratch disk data will be modified, adjusted, enhanced, and possibly copied to the G-Drive and inserted into a processed folder for images and a production folder for video.
We’ll focus on the original data stored on the G-Drive, as that’s the data we need to make sure it’s backed up.
The next step is to back up to an onsite and offsite backup solution.
2/ On-site backup of photos and video
I’m using a WD EX4100 24TB; this is connected to the network and essentially uses a time machine on the Mac to back up the data. On Intel Nuc 9 Extreme, I use Windows Backup and Restore.
One thing to note with a Time Machine backup and Backup and Restore is that it will only back up your machine’s hard drive by default. In Windows, the backup and restore process lets you easily select the external drives you want to back up. On Mac, this feature is not so obvious.
Change Time Machine preferences.
1/ Click on Time Machine and select “Open Time Machine Preferences”.
2/ Click Options
3/ Click on the name of the external disk and click on the icon –
4/ Click on Save and close the window.
Now, connected disks will also be backed up by a time machine.
In WD MyCloud settings, make sure TimeMachine backup is enabled, and the software will do the rest.
The WD EX4100 is one of the easiest solutions for mass backup of your data, it can be a bit tricky to figure out as it is a network attached storage NAS rather than a standard USB connection, but for this type of use, it is much better Solution.
3/ Offsite backup of your image and video files.
Finally, there’s offsite backup, which can be a service you can purchase through Amazon, Elephant, or Backblaze. The first two can be activated through the WD My Cloud interface, while Backblaze is external.
Like the WD Ex4100, these offsite backup solutions allow you to select the drives you want to back up and store those files securely offsite.
That essentially leaves us without a primary 12TB G-Drive that connects directly to the computer; this is then backed up to the WD EX4100, which is connected to the network and easily accessible if needed, and this, in turn, is connected to an offsite backup service such as Backblaze.
If you’re backing up directly from the WD EX4100, you can subscribe directly to Elephant or AWS, which makes it a lot easier.
As for scratch files, these are downloaded to a scratch drive and then reloaded to the storage drive when the project is complete.
One of the great features of BackBlaze and Time Machine is that you can select the working drive as an additional backup. So, if something goes wrong with your small external drive, there should be a backup of it with your files safe.
However, be aware that once you delete files from your primary storage drive, in my case the 12TB G-Drive, that deletion will sync with your backups and those files will be removed from it.
Of course, there comes a time when you just want to back up the files you have. Here it would help if you were a little ruthless with the editing; otherwise, you’ll have all those fuzzy, repetitive images and video clips you don’t need.
The first step in any long term storage solution is to edit, remove what you don’t need and leave only the good stuff.
Once you’ve done that, images can be printed, like in the good old days, and videos can be transferred to DVD.
You can then store the digital data on CDs, DVDs or archival tapes. If you’re using hard drives of any type, duplicate content across multiple drives and be sure to check them at relatively regular intervals. Even SSD flash memory degrades over time.
Keeping files safe for a long time digitally is difficult, and today the best way to ensure the longevity of your digital data is to use online storage and resources.
Check Amazon Photos, Google Photos, or another online service for photos. If you want to archive a video, look to Vimeo or even YouTube as a possible way to get your work done. But, remember, all of these online services are open to change, so while they may be easy, accessible, and free now, they might change in the future.
In summary, this World Backup Day, just make sure you have your three backups, one connected to your computer, one onsite like a NAS, and one offsite with a service like BackBlaze.