I recently spent a good amount of time clearing about 60GB of images from my hard drive. When I originally mentioned this on a flickr post awhile back I got a lot of comments that went something like “Hard drives are cheap, I just buy another drive when I run out of space”. Well, in fact hard drives are pretty cheap these days, but that’s not the reason I was clearing out images. I don’t see the point in backing up stuff that I would never use.
I have a pretty solid file server at home actually, with plenty of space. Being in the IT field, I see hard drives crash all the time, and it’s never a matter of “IF” your hard drive will fail, but “WHEN” it will fail, so multiple copies of your images are really important. Photographs of your kids when they were growing up, for example, can never be replaced. It’s also very important to have copies of your files at more than one location just in case something happens to that location.
A good example of this is a friend of mine that lives in Oakland, CA; he recently went on a 5 day vacation to Yosemite, only to return to find that his home was broken into, and all of his computers in the house were stolen. Even though he had multiple copies of his photos on different computers, he lost all of the photos of his children growing up. I thought it would be good to mention my basic solution to this problem, and while it may not be the perfect solution, it works pretty well for me.
First of all, when I get home from shooting, I upload my images to my desktop, renaming them at the same time. I then use a free program called SyncBack to syncronize the images over to my file server to ensure that I immediatly have 2 copies of my files. I also have syncback configured to nightly synchronize the 2 drives. This ensures that the photos I work on during the day, also get copied over that night in case of a drive failure.
I also use a directory structure that makes it very easy to backup only may latest images. My directory structure goes something like this:
- Photos (Top Directory)
- Year (e.g. 2006)
- Month (01, 02, 03…)
- Shoot With date in the folder name (MountHood_011806)
- Images with date in the filename (MountHood_011806.NEF)
I realize that this is a very personal thing, and there’s probably a better way to do it, but this is how I do it and it works for me. It makes it very easy for me to find the original folder of images from a single filename if I need to get to the original quickly at a later time. This also allows me to easily plugin my USB drive and backup 1 months worth of images at a time for example. This is actually what I do; when a new month starts, I back up the previous month to my USB drive, and take it to work and put it in my desk. This is an easy way to have an “offsite” copy of my images. This is fine, but it’s time consuming if you want to always have your latest images offsite, and I only do it once a month because it’s not an automated thing.
Being a Systems Administrator, I love automation. If I have to do something manually more than a few times, I generally like to just write a script or figure out another way that will accomplish the task automatically. This is where the online backups come into play. With the super fast internet speeds these days, and the cheap online backup solutions available, I recommend anybody that’s serious about backing up their files subscribe to one of these solutions. It will take awhile to initially backup your images depending on how many you have, but once that’s done, these solutions just magically backup your images very shortly after you upload them. I am currently using one called BackBlaze, and it works fine for me. It runs me a whopping $5 per month. There are others out there too, and I know of a couple of people that are very happy with Mozy.
I hope this short article helps a few people save some images in the future, and feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!