What's your backup methodology?


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Aug 9, 2014
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Denton, TX
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Right now ... I use a 1TB WD passport attached via USB as sort of an offload. i have a macbook pro, with a 500GB internal SSD.

So, when I get done shooting, I:
  • Copy the NEF files to the passport with Finder (SD -> passport/lightroom/offload/RawFromCamera).
  • Import the NEF files to the local HD. Yes. This creates another copy of the NEF, this is by design. Everything is filed by the date the image was shot, so all the folders are named with a date e.g. 2015/2015-10/2015-10-23
  • Manupulate, photoshop, yadda yadda yadda.
  • After about 2 months, I move -- with the lightroom UI -- the entire folders back to the passport (passport/lightroom/working/2015/2015-10/2015-10-23) to make room for new images.
Now ... the passport is starting to fill up. And there's no offsite storage. And there's a single point of failure. So it's about time I started thinking of what to do.

Another thought is to use the 1TB of space I have with microsoft's OneDrive that comes with my office 360 subscription.

One thought is, after a year, to carve everything off that's over a year old, save it to a 500GB external drive and put in a safety deposit box.
I shoot mainly sports so I have folders for each sport and each level (grade).
Download to temp folder > cull the rejects > save original and also save a copy to be edited.
I use "AllwaySynch" to then copy files to external hard drive.
Use same software to make a second copy to another external hard drive.
The memory cards still contain the originals (in camera) - kept until that card goes back into a camera. I always format when I insert a new card in a camera.
Once a week I make a third copy to another external drive that is kept off site.
(So at this stage I have three copies in my office - one on my internal hard drive and two others on external hard drives)

At eh end of the season for that sport I copy all of the season's photos to another three external drives (two of which are in my office and the third is offsite). Once I check they are OK, I delete the files from my internal hard drive and the next time I do a synchronisation they will be deleted from the "current" set of three external drives.

I also keep sets of three drives for my videos and another set of three for my "General" photos (non-sport).

So I have about 15 external hard drives and always have at least two copies of every file in my office and another copy off site. I keep about 40,000 new sports phot0s each year.

It does rely on me being organised and quite regimented with synching to the hard drives.
I back my files up on my own server. It's old hardware but high quality. Pics are backed up on their own hard drive that are mirrored for redundancy. They are in a hot swap bay so when they fill up, I just pull it and mark it with a sharpie and store in fireproof safe. I did create a database in case I need a file, I just search it and it will tell me what drive the file is on. I also store all my family's files as well but theirs are system images only.

You may consider a NAS, buy 4 identical drives (2 for the data and 2 to mirror them) as large as you can afford and back up that way. Or just buy space from a cloud based service.
I've got my 1TB HDD backed up to a 1TB WD passport too. I normally back up before installing a new program on my PC, or after I've loaded in shots that are more that me just messing about with a camera. I've not got round to off site storage yet, though I do have a 500GB external HDD which was my old back up drive but should be enough to back up my photos. I intend on sorting that out at some point and dropping it off to my mum and dads house which would be my cheap way of doing off site storage.
I keep a portable HDD at work and take it home once every other month or so for offsite back up. I save original raw files, the tif files I make when converting, and the final PS file with layers. Early this year I upgraded the 500 GB drives I had to a 3 TB on my desk and a 2 TB portable. I still have the original 500 GB portable and take that home once in a while and use it to back up a few files I'm particularly fond of. This keeps it running occasionally and less likely to seize up and it also gives me one more layer of backup for the most important stuff (without completely filling it up - it has over 300 GB on it now).
In a nutshell: I use a total of 9 external hard drives.

One is a 2tb that is primarily my 'working' drive. All new images get ingested to there, and I start my processing from them. That is backed up 3 times a week to one of four rotating 2tb drives that are changed once a month. Those four drives are rotated through my safe.

I also have 2 more drives that are updated (albeit far less frequently) and stored off-site.

The final two drives are a pair of 4tb units that I call my 'archive' drives. They contain all the images that are more than 2 years old. I recently dropped everything from 2012 and 2013 onto those drives. One is stored off-site.

I also use multiple SD cards as temporary back-up. I have 50-some cards I rotate through the cameras. When one gets full, I set it aside and start using another. This gives me, in some cases, about a year before I need to reformat the card to use it again.

In addition to all this, I use an internal 1tb drive to temporarily store all ingesting images. Everything I shoot gets copied there, and the only time I need to retrieve a file from there is when I have erased the memory card and my 'working drive' copy is lost or corrupt. Being able to immediately find and replace the image keeps me from having to dig through the back-up process on the 2tb external.

Having multiple copies is key, and paramount is having some of those copies stored off-site. I remember well the time I visited a friend who was pleased as a new father about his fancy-dancy 8-drive RAID set-up. Boasting of it's ability to hot-swap drives of any size, automatic mirroring and all you'd think she shot the apple off the Kaiser's head himself. Then I just dead-panned, "What happens if your house burns down?"
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Import to lightroom.
Try and save anything I edit and export onto my readyNAS.

That's it. I'm not a freakin' pro and my images aren't worth **** :)
Recent files are on my local hard drive with daily backup to an external USB drive. Archive files are stored on a different Seagate 2TB external USB drive as well as a networked WD NAS on a different floor and power circuit in the house. I also burn the archives to DVD (multiple copies) and one copy could go offsite if I get serious about it. Reworked photos go up on my own website hosted by a third party. I am still not on board with cloud storage for files
OK, here's what I'm thinking:

For shooting
  • 7 SD cards one for each day of the week
  • Import NEF images straight from the SD card ... no more intermediate copy

For the computer:
  • 3 2TB MyPassport USB drives (I cannot imagine shooting more than 1TB per year, each drive keeps 2 years)
  • 1 labeled WORK, 1 labeled BACKUP_A the other BACKUP_B
  • All work in lightroom, PS, etc is done on the passport WORK drive.
  • One of the backups stays at a buddys house at all times
  • Several times a week, one-way-sync the WORK drive to the BACKUP_X drive, then swap with buddy on saturday, in the meantime keep in fireproof safe.
  • Every quarter, work over 2 years old is exported as-is to full-res hi quality JPG on a 1TB passport drive, then deleted from lightroom.
Thoughts? Anyone see any holes?
I just upload to the cloud. I only have around 2.5TB of photos anyways. Been thinking of getting a 3-4 TB harddrive though.
I import to lightroom then it makes a copy on my laprop then plug in my 1tb hard drive and it auto backs up in the background as I edit the photos. It also auto backs up to google photos (it's not amazing but it has unlimited storage) I then update my other hard drive with the same software so I just plug it in and it backs it up. Also all of my good photos go on Flickr which I guess is a way of backing it up. sorry for the long post but that is how I back up my shots

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