|The G-Tech G-Dock Thunderbolt RAID Two Bay Drive System|
There are many schools of thought about photographic workflows for image editing and other aspects, so for the purposes of this guide, we’re staying well away from all that and focusing solely on data, files, backups, naming, and organisation.
Your photographic data backup workflow starts immediately after you’ve taken the shot. You should be aiming to make your first backup as soon after you’ve finished shooting as possible (or during shooting – I’ll cover that later).
I don’t remember who it was who said it, but there’s a quote that’s always stuck with me and remains a golden rule for image editing and data storage and backup:
“A digital photo doesn’t exist unless there are at least 3 copies of it”
The First Backup
If you don’t have the feasibility to do this, you should be doing this as soon as you get home or have access to a computer.
As with most cases, currently the most secure way to backup your data is to an SSD (Solid State Drive), but in most cases a Hard Drive will do just as well.
Keep All Your Original RAW Files
When backing up your files after your shoot, one copy should be sent to a hard drive that just contains organised folders of all your RAW images – nothing else.
Similarly, you should have a hard drive that just contains your editing work, and a portable hard drive that contains your current work – files for current clients and anything that you need to take off-site for any reason.
Organise Your Files
The generally accepted best practice naming conventions amongst many photographers is reverse-date naming.
This means your folders and individual files should be in the following format
Year/Month/Day/Shoot Name/Camera/Shot Number.
Back Up Regularly
However, if you’re a Mac user, you’re blessed with the wonder that is Time Machine.
Time Machine for Mac is a built-in program that can be set to create hourly, or daily backups (clones) of your hard drive to one or two external hard drives until the drive is full.
As a general rule of thumb – your external hard drive should be at least double that of your computers’ hard drive.
By using programs like Time Machine or a Windows equivalent, you build an on-site redundancy into your system which means that if your computer dies, you’ve always got the most recent copies of your work.
OK so you’ve backed up all your images three times and they’re all sitting on your desk next to each other, now imagine if your house burned down, or your studio flooded, or got hit by a meteorite… You’d lose everything.
It used to be the case that making an off-site backup of your hard drives required physically transporting a dedicated hard drive (usually the Time Machine drive that gets swapped out for a duplicate) to a secure off-site location (or your Mum’s house). It’s generally accepted that if you’re a full-time photographer you should be doing this every 7 days or so. That way, if the worst should happen, the most you’ll ever have to do is repeat 7 days worth of image editing.
However, in recent years with the advances made to Internet Broadband speeds, Fibre Optic broadband etc and with the advent of Cloud based computing and Cloud drives, you can now create ‘virtual’ backups of your data.
Services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and many, many others now offer convenient, cheap and trustworthy options to backup all your data to their secure servers.
Nowadays this is a really viable option for business, self-employed photographers, and everyone else.
Redundancy Is Vital
This means that you need at least two copies of your files as soon after creating them as possible (this applies to normal data files as well as images too – so remember to include your contracts, website backups, music etc in your plan). Creating a third copy of your files just improves your redundancy.
Remember that this applies to your edited images, your PSDs, your Adobe Lightroom Catalogs, videos, and all your other ‘live’ work as well.
Whatever your solution, it must work for you. It should also be scalable so as you grow your business you can grow your backup solution too.
You can find all your backup and data storage needs whether it’s an SSD drive, internal hard drive, desktop external hard drive or portable hard drive online & in store at Park Cameras.