DPS recently published a nice little shopping guide for external hard drives. It’s a great help for those who are considering an external drive for backing up photos—covering the bases of connectivity, speed and capacity. And you should definitely consider an external hard drive for backing up photos. The thing is, though, it’s definitely not the only thing you should consider.
You can’t just put your photos on an external hard drive and assume you’re covered. You’ve got to make sure you’re doubly covered, so that if (or when) a hard drive fails you’ve got the files stored safe and secure somewhere else. For years that somewhere else for me has been optical media.
In 2003 I was still using CDs to back up my digital image files. Then in 2004 I made the switch to DVDs. By 2009 I was backing up a dozen DVDs every month, so I recently upgraded to Blu-Ray disks for backup. For a brief time that meant I was backing up a month’s worth of work on 2 BDR disks, but now with continually larger file sizes I’m backing up on more and more of those big Blu-Ray disks too. It’s a never-ending capacity problem, but at least I know when something goes wrong with my magnetic media hard drive I’ve got duplicates on more stable optical disks. The reverse has happened too; I’ve had DVDs fail because I bought cheap disks. That’s why having a hard disk backup is crucial; it’s come in handy for backup as well.