Backup your Data

 In For Photographers

Your Photos Are Your Business: Are You Protecting Your Business?

The business of photography is -as many other types- complex and involves many different aspects. One thing though remains at its base: your images. They are what moves all the rest forward. It is true that while in business you will not photograph as much as you may think you will still rely on your products to build your brand. Living in the digital age, almost all the photography business -if you exclude the photographers who still shoot film and do the processing in the lab and not on a computer- need data storage to save their digital negatives.
What is your strategy when it comes to protecting your data and your business? Are you leaving your images in your computer or you have implemented a more complex method to backup your business?

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

There Are Many Backup Solutions Available

What we will discuss today are a couple of solutions we personally implement or we are going to implement in the coming months. Depending on many factors (Internet speed, availability of physical space etcetera) there are a lot of solutions, and one is not always better than the other. Our approach takes into account our available space and our data connection.

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

On Site and Off Site Backup

The first differentiation we will take into consideration for the backup is where your data physically reside. You may have your backup in your office -On Site- or in another physical location -Off Site.
The advantage of having your data in one place is that they are immediately available, but the risk is that an issue on the location -fire, robbery or everything that may generate physical damage to objects- may wipe away all your data straight away. Of course the cost of On Site backup may vary, depending on the hard disk you decide to use.
Off Site locations can be of two types: physical or cloud. A physical location is somewhere you can send your hard drive to in order to be kept safe. A Cloud location is a service that will give you online storage. The physical location normally has lower costs of management -it can be your friend’s house for example- but retrieving data is a lengthy process. Cloud storages have the advantages of providing your data instantaneously, however they are generally quite expensive and uploading large amount of data may take a long time, especially if you want to backup your RAW files (digital negatives).
In our opinion mixing On Site and Off Site backup is the best implementable solution whenever possible because it gives you the best of both worlds.

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

What Is A RAID And Why It Is Good For You?

When talking about hard drives for your backup it is important to remember something: hard drives fail. You may have been lucky, but relying on luck is not a viable business strategy. In our experience Hard Drives, especially when they are switched on, are “sensitive animals” who may suddenly decide to stop working. This is why having your data only in one place is not enough. Having the same data backed up on another disk is better, but having the data in many places at the same time is the only solution that will give you a good level of protection.
For our backup we invest in external drives that can implement a RAID solution. A RAID is a method of writing data in more than one disk at the same time, so you can retrive your information even in case of failure of a physical hard disk. The method we personally prefer is called RAID1 and it involves having two hard drives with the same data on both; everything you write on one disk is automatically duplicated on the other one. Of course one of the disadvantages of this method is the cost: you have two disks, but your computer sees only one of them. In my opinion I will gladly pay two disks instead of one to have the peace of mind.
A couple of weeks ago one of the disks inside an external drive stopped working: hadn’t we implemented the drive in a RAID1 we would have lost some data, but because we thought about it upfront, all our photos were safe. We have already replaced the drive that failed and now we have a double copy of everything again!

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

A Cheap Backup Means A Cheap Business

Many times we have seen people buying the cheapest hard drive on the market to store their backup. Doing this is -in our humble opinion- not a really wise move. Quality and reliability in hard drives is something that comes at a price, but cost is not always something to save on while protecting your business. Would you place all your gear in a safe made of cardboard? So why would you entrust your data to a possible unreliable solution?
When planning your next external hard drive for backup, why don’t your keep these details in mind? It may save your business.

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

Our Backup Solution For Our Peace Of Mind

At London Boudoir Photography we still do not have the complete solution we want for our backups, however what we have implemented provides us with an aceptable level of security already. For our backup solutions we use Western Digital MyStudio II. They come with two hard drives that we always set on RAID1. All our RAW files, our digital negatives are immediately stored there. In the same drives we keep copies of the edited TIF images after the post processing is completed. In this way all our RAW files are stored in two different Hard Drives. Because of the amount of data we shoot weekly -we can shoot up to 50GB of RAW images per week- we cannot upload all the our images online. The main issue with this current solution for the RAW images is that they are all stored in a single physical location. In the coming months we will complete our system backing up every month’s digital negatives and TIF files in hard drives that will be shipped somewhere safe.
Our completed images, though, are stored in multiple places already. They are JPEG versions exported at maximum quality and maximum resolution. Apart from being in two separate computer hard drives and being stored in the RAID1 external disks as well, they are also uploaded in the cloud. This already adds an additional level of security for our final products that is what we sell.
We love the flexibility the cloud storages offer and we would love to be able to backup everything there, however our Internet connection is not fast enough to allow a complete backup of everything we shoot. We are sure we still have few degrees of complexity to reach the real “peace of mind”, but we are already quite satisfied by the way we are safe-proofing our business.

By The way… London Boudoir Photography already manages almost 10TB of RAW data for images alone! That is quite something, isn’t it?

External Backups Management at London Boudoir Photography

What About You?

What about you? What is your implemented solution for backing your data up? Do you have any additional tips you want to share with everybody? Feel free to let us know in our comments section!

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Showing 6 comments
  • David

    I use a combination of Apple’s Time Machine, which backs up my computer’s primary drive and another small external hard drive, as this contains what i’m working on right now or have been recently and may still be referring to. Time Machine is great as at least you can get back up and running fast in the event of a fatal computer breakdown.

    For longer-term backups I use a Drobo and ChronoSync. It’s worked perfectly although there was one glitch where the Drobo declared a drive bad that verified perfectly on another machine – so I suspect a bug rather than a hardware fault. As my needs grow I’ll choose between additional Drobos or moving to traditional RAID.

    For off-site I use Dropbox for relatively recent work that still could be ‘active’ and my portfolio archive.

    More generally, I’ve learned to be more ruthless is simply deleting material that no longer has any currency – i.e. shots from a year ago that weren’t ‘starred’ highly in Lightroom and will never be used again. No point bloating an archive for no reason.

  • carlo

    Hi David!
    The issue in Time Machine is that soon you will run out of space and it is not intended to be used on such large scale.
    As for Drobo I do not personally like them as they have “their own” RAID, that is not standard and that I don’t trust (if there is a standard why not following it?)

    Dropbox is too small for our needs (with almost 10TB of data we would end up paying a LOT) and moving everything online takes ages!

    As for deleting, I am really strict on this: I do not delete anything but wrong shots. Even if they are old images they will stay. forever (you never know) :D


    • David

      Oh, Time Machine is just used for backing up the actual computer, a MacBook, and the rugged portable drive I use with it – the idea being that if the computer dies I can be up and running again pretty quickly, even if I have to go get another machine.

      The Drobo backs up, currently, four LaCie big FW drives, which contain all my archived data, and is situated in a different room via ethernet for a little added distance.

      I do need to need more about more Cloud-based backup going forward.

  • Felix

    We use a 4 disk array configured in raid5. So far 1tb of images is all we have to take care off :)

    • carlo

      I had people (system nerds) telling me to avoid RAID5 and I have always found the WD MyStudio2 to be quite fine and SILENT! :)

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  • […] In less than two weeks since we announced the last 2012 dates, the limited seats for our photography workshops are gone. The three dates for our courses in November and December are now officially sold out! Last weekend we hold a Shaping Women course focussing on natural light boudoir and black and white art nude. In December we will host one day of Boudoir, giving you the insights of how to maximise the body of a woman and another day teaching Post Processing and Workflow, from Lightroom to Photoshop to data backup! […]

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