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How to Safely Back Up Your Photos

How to Safely Back Up Photos

You’ll hear it time and time again: back up your photos. But even so, many people are guilty of just leaving them on their computer thinking “oh, it’ll never happen to me”. Computers fail; drinks get spilt, robberies happen – whatever the reason, you could be faced with the reality of all your hard work being gone. I know people this has happened to, and I myself have had a computer destroyed (but thankfully had many backups).

Please follow this guide to ensure that you backup your photos in the best and most secure way possible. The best combination is a cloud service and a hard drive backup. There are other methods too, which you may prefer or like to use as well.

Hard Drives

LaCie Rugged HDFor backing up on a hard drive, you should really use a mirrored backup. This is two hard drives with exactly the same content on each. It ensures that if one fails, you always have a second to hand. Hard drives are not overly expensive now, and I’ve found them to be quite durable. I use Western Digital hard drives, and have yet to have any problems. Amazon lists a huge variety of options from them, many of which are very reasonably priced.

I also use LaCie hard drives for when I’m travelling. To be specific, I use the LaCie Rugged models as they are shock and water resistant. I took them into a rainforest environment and they coped well.

Although personally I don’t do this, it is handy to have your hard drives set to automatically sync and back up. That way you don’t need to think about it. There are various tools available, just Google for “automatic sync tool” or something similar.

CalDigitFor those looking not to scrimp on storage, take a look at the CalDigit VR2 4TB hard drive. This system has removable 2TB storage drives, which can be stored away for safe keeping. Due to the two drives in one unit, mirrored backups are effortless to create. With Firewire or USB 3.0 ports, this hard drive ensures fast data transfer. If you’re looking for reliable storage, look no further!

 

 

Cloud Storage

What happens if disaster strikes, and your house is robbed or even destroyed in some way? It is likely both your hard drives from the mirrored backup were in there, along with your computer too. So that’s three stores of your photos all potentially gone in one go.

This is where cloud services come in to help. They consist of a server which is hosted remotely, and you upload and store your files online. This is pretty much a foolproof system when used alongside mirrored hard drives. Cloud services are usually subscription-based services. There are companies set up which will allow you to rent space on their servers to store your images. You pay depending on how much data you’ll be uploading.

Here are some reliable options available to you:

DVDs

Some people still like to back up their photos to DVDs. Nowadays DVDs are increasing in size, but it’s a method that will probably end up being more expensive than just buying a large hard drive. It involves a lot of organising too so you can always find the right DVD to use to find a certain image.

If you don’t have many photos and can fit them onto a couple of DVDs, then I suppose it is a short term fix. But I find DVDs unreliable – they can easily get scratched and rendered unreadable.

When abroad, it could be a good idea to save photos onto a DVD and mail them home. Other than that though, I can’t see any very practical reason in this day and age.

Time Machine (for Mac users)

Macs come with a feature called Time Machine. You plug in a hard drive and the computer saves and backups continuously throughout the day. The result? You can “go back in time” through your computer and see files as they were a day ago, a week ago or even a year ago. Once the drive reaches capacity, it begins to overwrite the oldest files. This is a great way to have an automated backup that you don’t even need to think about. If you accidentally delete something or save over a file, then just open up the Time Machine and it’ll be sitting there waiting for you.

 

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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