Backing up your photos

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The word “backup” is one that tends to make people sigh. Backing up your important data is such a nuisance. It’s not hard to do but for some reason many people put it off and put it off because of the drudgery. Who has time to back up photos when there are more photos out there waiting to be taken?

Image: Amazon

Well, annoying or not, regular backups are an absolute must even if you don’t shoot professionally. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never lost any photos (excuse me while I go knock furiously on wood) but I came very close once. Let’s just say that I’m very fortunate to be married to an IT God who was – after many attempts and a declaration that he had one last trick and then there wouldn’t be any chance – able to retrieve my near-lost photos.

I won’t tell you how many pictures I nearly lost. Okay, I will just in the hopes that the shock will be enough to prompt some of you to go make a backup right this second. Had he not been successful I would have lost just over a year’s worth of photos. A YEAR. That’s thousands of pictures, literally. Sure, I had some of the good ones up on Flickr so at least there was that, but I have kids; I take a lot of fun pictures of them and I don’t post every last one of them. While like would have gone out without those photos, I would have been devastated to lose them.

Needless to say, as soon as the photos were retrieved, two backups were made – one digital and one on DVD.

Why did I go over a year without backing things up? I kept putting it off. “I’ll do it on the weekend. Next week. Tomorrow. Soon. Really.” It would have taken very little of my time but I didn’t get around to it. The only backup I had made in all that time had been a professional shoot that I had done, and the only reason I had backed that folder up was because I needed to burn them to a CD to give to my client.

The things is, our personal photos are just as valuable as the ones we do for our clients. They help us to learn, they allow us to see our progression as we learn new techniques, and perhaps most importantly, they create visual memories.

I wouldn’t want to go through that fear again and I certainly wouldn’t want to actually lose the photos in the future. Please don’t be as reckless as I was:

  • Use an external hard drive or some other similar storage option to backup your photos.
  • Burn those backed-up photos to a CD or DVD because of course your storage option can crash and burn just like your computer can.
  • Do each of these regularly. Don’t go with “soon”. Schedule a backup automatically if you can. If not, use a calendar to remind yourself to do a backup.
  • Obviously it’s best to back up each time you download new photos from your camera to your computer, but if not, then consider backing up weekly.
  • If you’re scheduling an automatic backup, set it to run during a time when you aren’t usually at your computer. It avoids the argument of “well, I should back this stuff up now but I need to send these emails out…” Do you usually eat supper at 5 pm? Set your backup to run at 5:05 so that there are no excuses.

How often do you back your photos up?

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