How To Keep Your Files Safe

How To Keep Your Files Safe

As photographers, we have to store a large amount of data for a long period of time. Our data is everything to us, but it is also our Achilles’ heel. PCs die. Hard drives and memory cards can fail. Our gear can be lost or stolen. To safeguard our workflow and sleep easily, it is critically important to establish a reliable backup system and back up regularly. It is our responsibility to provide a reliable storage of the photographs we take.

The more frequently you back up your catalog and photos, the less data you stand to lose when a crash occurs. Avoid accumulating too much data in your camera’s storage device.

First, always use external hard drives to keep your images safe. If you have large volumes of information needed to be backed up regularly, you would probably love the safe and expandable ultimate storage solution – Drobo. Drobo connects to your computer or network and provides redundant data protection without the complexities of traditional RAID. Drobo currently holds up to 36TB, depending on the model, using any combination of 3.5? disk drives or 2.5? drives for the Drobo Mini. The Drobo family offers Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Ethernet, iSCSI, and other connectivity options, so you get the data protection you need along with the speed and interface you want.

Like every other hardware device, Drobo has many pros and cons. Alternative hardware solutions: Synology NAS, QNAP, WD, Netgear NAS, Seagate, HP, Promise, and many more…

But things die and you should be prepared. Using a local storage device that protects you from hard drive failure is good, but it doesn’t provide full protection against its own failure, fire or theft. That’s why your data must be also backed up online. Online backup successfully protects against hard drive failures.

Cloud backup is an alternative to local backups. It provides an online space for your files with 24 hours access. It is very safe method to back up the most valuable files automatically in the background. The organizations providing the services are responsible for ensuring your data is safe, secure and accessible. No matter what happens locally to your computer, your hard drives, or your memory cards, your data will always be available to you in the cloud.

Cloud sharing storages are OK for regular and not important backups. These storages can clone backups from Lightroom or Aperture, sync selected folders from your PC whenever connected. Note that your initial backup might take a very long time (from 1 day to several months).

Adobe Lightroom doesn’t back up your photographs. It creates a catalog (a database of previews) that contains all the changes you’ve made to your photographs (metadata, filters, develop settings, etc.). This catalog doesn’t contain your original photographs.


This is a free and probably most popular service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Its key features include:

  • Starting at 2 GB for free and up to 16 GB with referrals.

  • Pro accounts with up to 500 GB. Business accounts start at 1 TB for 5 users.

  • Seeded Backup. This service is available only to customers in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and to all overseas US Armed Forces POs.

  • Crashplan will also send you a hard drive up to 3.5TB to do a restore. Read more…

  • Your files are always available from the secure Dropbox website. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption.

  • Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

  • Dropbox transfers just the parts of a file that change (not the whole thing).

  • Dropbox keeps a one-month history of your work. Any changes can be undone, and files can be undeleted.

Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDrive is free online storage for your files that you can access from anywhere. With SkyDrive, you get 7 GB of free storage in the cloud to store your files and photos, sync across all your computers, and even edit and collaborate on Office documents. You can access the latest version of your files from any computer or phone—no cables or USB flash drive necessary.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service provided by Google. Google Drive lets you store up to 15GB of your stuff for free, access them from anywhere, and collaborate with others. When your Google Drive grows, get another 100 GB of space (or more!) starting at $4.99 per month.

Any time your device has Internet access, it checks in with Google Drive. That ensures your files and folders are always up to date. Change something on one device and it changes everywhere.

Offsite Backup Services

You can also use special backup services that keep your data offsite. Offsite backup solutions can be used for commercial and professional workflow. File encryption and unmatched data security, cross-platform technology and blazing fast automatic synchronization are the key options provides by these services.

  • CrashPlan is one of the web’s most popular online backup services for Windows and Mac. With CrashPlan you can back up your data to external drives, other computers on the same network or across the internet, or online CrashPlan’s own servers. Online CrashPlan’s servers keep your data safe and protected with 448-bit encryption, including a private key option. The client utility runs quietly in the background all the time. Scheduled backups are also supported. With CrashPlan’s ‘triple destination protection’ you can back up your data at multiple locations. You can access your files from virtually anywhere, at any time.CrashPlan’s exclusive ability to create backup sets frees you to handpick and prioritize what files go where, and how often.With CrashPlan, it’s easy to go back in time to a precise version of a file or folder. There’s no limit to how many versions you can back up to CrashPlan Central. Read more about CrashPlan’s features CrashPlan pricing options

  • BackblazeThis easy-to-setup backup service is built for non-technical people who want to get their data backed up. You get some control over what’s backed up and what isn’t. This service is fast and easy. Blackblaze offers unlimited storage for your data. It runs in the background, backing up your data all the time. Your backed up data is encrypted so only you can access it. It supports Windows and Mac. Blackblaze pricing options

  • SpiderOak SpiderOak is 100% private online backup, sync and sharing service. Its flexible design allows you to handle data from any operating system (Mac, Windows and Linux) or location (external drives, network volumes, USB keys, etc.) using just one centralized account. SpederOak’s features include: more than one online backup, 10-15 times faster data upload, consolidated online storage, historical versioning, complete privacy, 2GB free for life (100GB for $10). SpiderOak pricing options

  • Mozy Mozy is an advocate for online backup, with data centers spread throughout the US and the UK. It’s features include: world-class security, human-proof backing up, access from anywhere including mobile devices, 30-day retention, 2xProtect, Mozy Data Shuttle service will send the large volumes of your initial backup to its secure servers safely and fast. Mozy pricing options

Actually, it doesn’t really matter which way to back up your files you use, as long as you are using one. It’s up to you whether to use local or online backup strategy, or both of them. Choose the most reliable and convenient way to back up your files. I recommend having a local backup on an external hard drive, but ideally you should have at least two backups: one local, and one cloud backup.