It’s been a MINUTE since I have shared anything but client session recaps on the blog, but today, that changes! I’ve wanted to create this post for a while, and while I know talking digital backups isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, it may be one of the most important blog posts you EVER read! Dramatic? Maybe, but truly when it comes down to it, the reason you have photos taken is to have the photos to look back on.
While there is so much GOOD that comes with being in a digital era, there’s also a lot to consider for future eras when technology may look a little different. Digital images are only as good as our ability to access them, so how can you ensure that your images are safe from data loss and changing technology?
That’s exactly what we’re going to break down today… including how I recommend you safeguard your digital images, and what I ultimately recommend as a failsafe backup! This is going to get long fast, so let’s dive right in.
The Golden Rule of Threes
Before sharing client recommendations, a little background on where these recommendations came from. As a photographer, whenever I am working on a client’s images, they are in no less than three places at any given time after the session before delivery. (Usually, they are in FOUR places!) Why? If one of the backups fail, chances are good, there is another backup that will be available to ensure a client’s images are able to be delivered to them.
As a photographer, I back client images up as I work— I shoot to two memory cards and keep one of the cards until a gallery is delivered and accessed by my client. When I get home, I also back up my cards to a solid state hard drive and NAS system where images are sent to not one but two hard drives for backup. I have my NAS system set up to create a mirror copy of my main backup… just in case! After the session or wedding is delivered, the final images remain on my gallery host and NAS system, but my work drives and memory cards are cleared.
While this may be a dramatic system to recommend clients, the thought behind my recommendations stays the same: create multiple backups because you never know what may happen! At any given point, I recommend having your most precious images in THREE places. (Hence the Golden Rule of Threes!) For the average person, you should be safe backing your images up on two hard drives and once in the cloud.
What does this usually look like? You should be safe with backing your images up once on your computer, once on an additional hard drive (Recs coming soon!), and once on the cloud. If your gallery is online indefinitely, this serves as a great fourth backup, but I don’t recommend that it be relied on as your sole backup or image access point. CKP image galleries are typically guaranteed to be online for one year, but I’m lucky to have a gallery system with unlimited storage which allows me to keep galleries online for much longer.
That said, work to create your own backup system and keep your online gallery as a bonus backup!
Solid State Hard Drives
When it comes to external hard drives, there are about a million and one that you could choose from. This could get real tech-y real fast, so I’ll try to keep this as simple as I can. There are a few different types of hard drives, one that I will call a “regular hard drive” and another that is called a “solid state hard drive.”
Regular hard drives typically have moving parts in them that have the potential to be damaged when dropped or bumped, especially when the drive is plugged in. What happens when a hard drive is damaged? Yup, data loss. I’ve been victim of this before, and let me tell you, it is NOT fun. SO? What do I recommend over a regular hard drive?
You may have guessed… a solid state hard drive is where it is at! While no storage system is 100% failsafe, solid state hard drives are a lot safer than a regular drive. They have fewer mechanical parts, and while you should still handle them with care, they are able to handle more bumps and bruises than a regular hard drive. Without moving parts, they are also often a bit faster than regular drives.
I’ve used THIS hard drive as my trusty working drive for a few years now, and I only have good things to say about it! While it may feel dramatic to grab a full TB of backup data up front, I highly recommend going big with your storage. You’ll have plenty of room to back up your images and galleries as your family moves through different seasons.
This sounds a lot more technical than it is! Really, I just recommend backing your images up online somewhere outside of your online gallery. This could be Google Drive, Dropbox, or something similar. I’m a Google girl, and highly recommend Drive over Google Photos as drive will save the original size of the image where Photos has been known to compress images.
One thing with cloud storage: do your future self a solid and save the login details somewhere. Your digital images are only as good as your ability to access them… so make sure you make a note and remember how to access them down the road!
Prints and Albums
Just a few weeks ago, I sat on the floor of my grandparents’ apartment with my mom, flipping through my Mommom and Poppop’s wedding album from 72 years ago. Yes, you read that right… 72 years. And I was able to hold their original album in my hands! How cool is that?! As we prepped to celebrate my late grandfather’s life, we were able to look through images from their wedding day, and it was such a comfort to see my Mommom and Poppop together on such a joyful day.
While this may be a bit of a dramatic example, I truly believe in the power of printing your photos. While the digital era is amazing in its own way, allowing SO many more photos to exist in a more accessible and affordable way, there really is something special about a printed photo. And… as technology changes and evolves, prints and albums are guaranteed to outlast any changes that may be down the road.
Years ago, I used to deliver galleries on CDs then USB drives… and now my computer doesn’t even have a standard USB port, and it has been years since my computer had a CD drive in it! What I’m saying is this: technology changes, and your digital images are only as good as your access to them. Print your photos— this is the only way to guarantee that you will have access to your images as technology changes. Whether you are printing and framing your favorite images, create albums, or even just keeping a shoebox full of 4×6 images is hugely beneficial to preserving your memories.
I’m in the process of changing my online gallery delivery system to one that allows me to easily provide even MORE prints and products for my clients because I know just how valuable it is to print your life… and how this can be one of the LAST things on your mind during a busy season. So… why not make it insanely easy?! Soon, clients will be able to order basic prints, framed photos, ornaments, and albums all through their online gallery, and I can’t WAIT to make it super simple for clients to preserve their most special memories.
When you invest in professional photography, it’s just that: an investment. If you have the means to invest in a professionally designed and printed album and/or prints, do it! If you can swing professionally printed and framed family photos, I promise you won’t regret it! These items are created to withstand the test of time. I can guarantee that someone will be looking through your memories years and years from now!
With that too, I also love and highly recommend Chatbooks to print your personal memories on the regular! I have so many volumes of my personal photos printed in cute little yearbooks. While the options that I use to print my photos are nowhere near the quality of professional albums, I flip through them often and am always grateful to have the memories in hand.
I can’t stress to you how important it is to back your photos up in multiple locations because there is no worse feeling than realizing you have lost some of your most precious memories… and no greater relief than realizing you have a full backup of the images, ready to be put to use!
Hope this helps!
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