Playing With Fire? Backup Your Backup!

April 11, 2014  •  Leave a Comment
     I recall the hilarious statement from an episode of Friends years back where Phoebe has a backup plan for marriage. If she didn’t get married by a certain age, she formed an arrangement with one of the other friends. However, she also has a backup in case her back up didn't come through. Henceforth she later admits that it just makes sense to BACKUP YOUR BACKUP!  
     Backing up files is important not only to a photographer but it should also be to the photographer's clients. Often times I hear of fellow friends and even photographers who’ve lost major amounts of data either at home, at their business, or directly off of one of their camera’s cards.  Unfortunately, there was never any backup…like ever.  Redundancy of data is not something that's very exciting or even something that most couples and unfortunately photographers think about.  However, data is something that should be taken seriously planned to help prevent or minimize any loss of data.  
     When interviewing with a photographer during a consultation, ask about data backup.  One of the points I stress is that I first shoot with multiple bodies in case one body keels over of natural causes or happens to take a nose dive on the ground. I even pack a film body with me just in case (although there is no redundancy for backing up film).  The other major question is asking your photographer about what kind of bodies they shoot with.  It seems like a personal question almost but the reason some couples don't ask is they either don't have enough technical understanding or they just don't think about it.   Cameras are not all the same and although entry level cameras have been getting increasingly better, there are some features that they lack in.  Heck, even some higher ended models lack in some as well.  The biggest of these to me is memory card slots.  I only use digital bodies that store two memory cards in them capable of storing images on the main card and duplicating them on the second card.  Anything differently and I feel I would be playing with fire since I can’t really reshoot a wedding day.
     Although NOTHING is ever 100% failsafe, I strive to take all precautions to make sure what I’ve captured, stays captured and preserved up to and beyond the day that I deliver my clients their photos.  Even with couples that don't hire me, I encourage them by stating that they should make sure that whomever they choose for their big day is doing the right thing.  
     The same thing goes for couples getting picture files from their photographer.  Backup your data and know what’s going on with your files.  That also goes not only for your wedding day, but your whole life including your family and children.  Here are a few tips to try to keep your digital life preserved for years to come:
First of all, an external hard drive is not necessarily a backup drive.  If all of your files are just on that drive, then you don’t have a backup.
Have multiple drives. What I have is one drive for video, one for pictures and music, and one as a backup. Three drives total but there is a caveat to that.
  • Have something offsite. There are many options for this and one is have your files hosted by others such as  The option I still choose is to have a backup drive in another location.  All I do is unplug (properly) my backup drive and plug in my drive designated for offsite storage.  When finished, I plug in the original and take my off-site drive to work.  You can take it to a friend, relative, etc. 
  • Use a decent backup software.  If you aren’t sure, ask your wedding photographer. Also remember that it’s not just your picture files that you want to preserve (important documents shouldn’t be neglected.) 
  • Buy fast enough drives that don’t make you wait until next Christmas to backup or read your files.  Traditional drives are rated in RPMs, revolutions per minute.  Most common drives that are extremely affordable are at a speed of 5400 RPM or somewhat slower.  Faster consumer drives speed up to 7200 RPMs and give better performance.  The fastest drives that aren’t quite there in terms of adequate affordable storage are SSD, or Solid State Drives. Give some time and in about a year, you’ll see a decent price drop as well as an increase in the storage capacity of these super fast drives.  
Well there it is! What most people neglect is something that’s often missed the most when it’s gone.  Remember to backup and then backup your backup! 


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