So your data is now everyone else’s big business. The more you have, the more its going to cost you to keep. But does it have to be this way? Is there a better way to manage your data? I think so…
Offline or Online?
I’m a full time photographer and the biggest assets to my business are my photographs; my clients and my own. I shoot weddings, corporate events and all sorts of other genres in photography for myself as well. Storing photo’s and data is an essential part of my working method after a photo shoot so I made it my business to put together a good offline and online backup solution for my business.
I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket. Therefore when on a shoot I use 10 SD cards at 16 GB each and because I shoot in RAW format the files are fairly large. After a wedding I get all the cards together and I create a folder on my hard drive to collate them, where I can then work on them and eventually hand them over as a finished product to the printers or clients.
This is an offline backup. I have turned the copies of my wedding photos into a backup copy by duplicating them to my hard drive. I now feel a bit safer (phew!). This may sound strange, but I have to say its fairly nerve-wracking driving home after a wedding, You get in and the backup’s the first thing you do and you hope to God there is not a corrupt card in the collection (especially from the ceremony!).
Now, let’s talk about online and offline backup solutions and how you work them to your advantage. As I said, I feel pretty safe, but what if there is a fire overnight or a break-in and everything is wiped out? Well, its all going be lost and not only am I going to have to pay for new gear, but I am likely going to be sued as well. Insurance covers most things, but can’t replace those photographic memories.
This is where an online backup solution can help. By now you will have heard of ‘the Cloud’. It sounds mysterious, but its really just another hard drive elsewhere (OK it’s slightly more than that – its a lot of hard drives and a lot of servers spread over a lot of data centres). There are many varied versions of Cloud storage, for example, Drop-box, Google Drive, Cloud etc., and they all offer (to start with) free online storage.
Drop-box was something I started with when I didn’t take online backup seriously but more of a place to dump my contracts and sample photo’s. I invited people to my shares and as they joined Drop-box gave my account more storage space but eventually I filled it up as I saw how important online storage was. At the time, their prices were just too high so rather than paying I just bought two large desktop USB hard drives and made one a master and one a slave.
I then configured Microsoft’s Synctoy (its free and can be downloaded from their website) to copy everything from one to the other for me. This is really great, you have you own offline backup on your pc/tablet at home and the same folder you have your data in is also being synced (by your choice at installation) constantly somewhere else, for now..
Here is the catch: all of the online ‘Clouds’ are only giving away just enough space to fit most of your data. They know the average Joe who has, say 1gb of data is eventually going to fill their free offering of say 15gb. To expand on this you will have to pay! Yes, all those MP3’s that you have already paid for are now going to cost you per month as well and the more you store, the more you pay. You may even fill up that offline hard drive so a bigger one is necessary and is also going to cost you.
Let me put it this way; what is worse? Delete music you don’t listen to very often? Or delete all the formal shots of a wedding (seriously, who looks at those shots anyway? It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff you want – right?). Or pay for more storage space online?
I started to look into the other online storage companies and Google was an obvious contender, I already had an email account with them and on clicking around found I had 15gb free not being used. I then decided the 50gb on Dropbox for free was not enough so signed up for Google drive per month and enjoyed 106gb. This lasted a year and I filled it, even deleting most of the RAW files and hanging onto the Jpegs (which are much smaller) I still ran out of space.
Well the good news is it is actually (finally) getting cheaper. Enough time had gone by for all these major “Cloud” companies are fighting over your data which is driving the price down making it affordable for home consumers and businesses. I did a good look-around and as I said, I photograph a lot so I needed a very large cost effective online backup source.
My favourite at the moment is BackBlaze as they fit my needs really well for the price per month. They offer something none of the others do yet… No Cap Limit! It is worth checking it out. They have a set price, but they will backup everything you have got. As soon as I told my friends they all signed up – no joke. It was easy to install and you just tell it which drive to backup (including C: drive) and off it goes. The first backup takes about two weeks but in my case three month’s but eventually its done and as you add photo’s and data it syncs it. I still do an offline backup though as I always plan for the worst – like no internet connection! outages can happen.
How best to backup your data in 2015
So to help you understand my offline/online solution at the moment, the steps below show you how my offline and online backup needs come together;
1 – I upload data/photo’s to my external 5TB hard drive
2 – I start Synctoy (a free add-on from Microsoft for windows users) and duplicate data to my second 5TB hard drive. This may sound extreme but I like to know I have made every effort to backup my data. This is my offline backup completed.
3 – I check the Back Blaze control panel and make sure its syncing
4 – Finished!
I hope you have found this useful, more later!