Thursday, February 25, 2010
Basic Tech: Photo Security
For a small investment, you can ensure your photo library will survive almost any calamity
|G-Raid External Hard Drive|
Every photographer should take backups seriously. Unlike a crashed hard drive, photos aren’t replaceable. With high-capacity storage options at affordable prices, it’s a small investment to ensure you never lose your photo archive.
Remember the cost of film? By the time you bought the roll and paid for processing, you spent close to what a 1 GB CompactFlash card will cost you (around $15). While you got 36 exposures on that roll of film, a 1 GB card will store approximately 1,000 JPEGs from a 12-megapixel camera, or about 100 RAW files from the same. At those prices, consider leaving images on your card after you download them. Label the card and store it in a safe place as backup of your original files. Small fireproof boxes for jewelry work great for this purpose.
Epson P-7000 Portable Media Storage Device
If you’re traveling, bringing a laptop or portable media storage device like the Epson P-7000 is a good idea. Download images daily, or even more frequently if you’re shooting a lot, so you’ll have a copy of your images right away. When traveling, it’s a good idea to have enough memory cards on hand that you don’t need to reuse them, so that you have all of your original files when you get home. Download your images to your primary computer as soon as you can. Making a copy right away is an important precaution.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES
Hard-drive failure is a question of “when,” not “if.” We had a hard-drive crash on a three-month-old computer and lost about a gigabyte of photos that weren’t backed up. Ouch! An external hard drive is the essential peripheral photographers should own. You can get a terabyte of storage for about $150 and two terabytes for about $100 more. Once you’ve downloaded your images to your computer, duplicate those files on your removable drive. After copying your files, the safest strategy is then to disconnect the drive from your computer, unplug it and store it somewhere safe. (Did we mention fireproof boxes?) Unplugging the drive protects it from a power surge, too.
DVDs and CDs shouldn’t be expected to live forever, but they’re a good intermediate backup solution. You can fit over 4 GB of images on a DVD. Group photos by date or subject, burn copies to disc and clearly label the discs for future reference. Then set yourself a calendar event a few years out to burn a replacement disc.
Many web-based services offer the ability to upload full-resolution images and other data files to remote servers that are continually backed up themselves. Using one of these services in addition to your other backups ensures that even in a catastrophic event, there’s a copy of your images somewhere safe.
REDUNDANCY IS THE KEY
If you follow the plan, you’ll have several copies of every image. Maybe it seems like overkill, but when you lose images that you can never replace (and we hope you never do), it’s a terrible feeling. You can virtually eliminate the possibility when you make backing up a priority.