Photographers who are interested in maximizing image security and minimizing the chance of data loss due to disk malfunction or other disasters know that it’s important to copy their precious images to two separate drives—one of which should ultimately be stored off-site, away from the other, to minimize the chances that a catastrophe such as fire or flood will destroy both drives. But did you know that the way you import your photos could actually have an impact on their long-term survival?
You see, many photographers import their photos from a camera’s media card to their computer hard drive, and then they copy those files to an external hard drive. Take that drive off-site and voila, you’ve got your redundant set of files kept in two different locations. How much safer could it get? Well, believe it or not, there’s still room for improvement.
What if a freak accident occurs? If something happens to an image file or your hard drive between the time images been downloaded and when they’re copied to another drive, you’re unprotected. Worse still, what if you download and then immediately copy those files to an external hard drive, thinking your system is foolproof when it’s not. This sure seems fairly failsafe, no? In fact it isn’t, and not just because of the slim chance of something happening to the drive. The safest way to copy files is to back them up simultaneously, not immediately after the import but actually during it.
Enter Lightroom, the RAW image file organizing and editing application from Adobe. Lightroom allows you to check a box when you open the Import dialogue to simultaneously “Make a Second Copy to” a second hard drive. This is the safest way to import and keep your files safe from start to finish, not only because of the obvious “instant backup” but also because of the way the application accesses the original image files.
Sure, ensuring zero lag time between download and backup guarantees there’s literally no time for something to go wrong in the interim. But even better, when you make a copy on import Lightroom actually double-checks the image files as you download them to two disks simultaneously.
You see, the biggest complaint about people who use Lightroom to download simultaneously to two drives is that it slows down the import process. But this slight slowdown is actually representative of the big benefit: Lightroom isn’t simply retrieving the file from the media card, copying it to one drive and then copying it to the other. In fact, it reads the media twice, effectively ensuring the data transfer is perfect.
Have you ever had an SD or CF card go bad and you get a corrupt image file? It’s a terrible feeling, and the only way to prevent it is to check every file as it’s downloaded.
Because Lightroom reads the card, copies a file to disk one, then reads the card again and copies that same file to disk two, it serves as insurance that the data has actually been copied correctly. Never will you experience data loss because of a momentary glitch that causes a bad transfer. By downloading to two destinations simultaneously, Lightroom all but guarantees your image files are as safe as is humanly possible.