One of my favorite sayings, that I made up myself from years of experience goes like this:

"Always remember to backup after every crash!"

Yep, that sick feeling is either the flu coming on or your computer telling you in the unfeeling tech verbiage, "What drive?  I don't see any drive here."

Yeah, backup often or feel the pain!!

Yeah, backup often or feel the pain!!

As a photographer I take hundreds of images in every shoot.  And every shoot takes a lot of time for me, the model, or models, and any other staff.  And possibly special wardrobe or a long distance trip to get to the location.  Yeah, it's true what they say, the data is more valuable than the computer.  Especially tough today is the size of the images.  Each time I take a shot I use twice the storage space as my wife's 12meg hard drive back when we met.  (yeah, it's been a while)

So, here's what I have came up with for storage redundancy and the process for each shoot to keep it all organized and duplicated as I go along.

First, the camera.  I don't have one of the cameras that has dual cards.  If I was doing weddings or rocket launches, or anything else that just can't be done again, I'd have one of those cameras.  I'd call it imperative.  If not, I'd have a pocket full of 4gig cards and switch them out often so any one card could go bad and I'd still have most of the event.  Okay, maybe not for the rocket launch.

So, for me, the most vulnerable moment is when my entire shoot is on that one little SD card.  Freaky at times.  The very first thing I do is upload that to my computer.  Depending on just how important the shoot was, I then manually start up a back of my computer to the dedicated drive I backup to every night.  Yes, I do a nightly backup of my Macbook Pro Retina 1tb to an external 2tb USB3 drive.  I use a program called SuperDuper that makes not only a bootable backup, but it has a way to do smart backups where it only copies and delete files on the external drive so that it matches the main drive.  Much quicker and I'm not without a full backup at any time.  Rewriting over the old backup means, for a period in time, I have no backup.  Not good.  So I don't.

So, I like to edit my shoots on the internal 1tb solid state drive on my laptop.  Nice and fast and plenty of room for 10-20 shoots before I have to move them off for new shoots.

When I download a new shoot I use Lightroom and create a new catalog for that shoot.  That creates a new folder too so everything is nice and neat.  BUT, I use a feature in Lightroom Import that allows me to download to two different locations at the same time!  Yes, this is exceedingly handy!!  So, I download to my local drive and at the same time it goes to my NAS (Network Accessible Server) if I'm at home, or to a 1tb external USB3 drive if I'm away from home.  So, I automatically have the shoot in two places from the point the download is finished.


If I'm at a hotel room I make sure I place the external drive somewhere else in the room if I leave so a theft of my laptop doesn't mean I lost my shoot.  I'm still going to be pissed...just slightly less so.

My NAS is a Synology 4 drive system with four 4tb drives giving me a little over 10b of storage space.  It's connected to my network and I can access it from anywhere in the world or any computer I have, including my iPad and iPhone.  Very cool indeed.

So, since it's not connected to any specific computer it simply becomes a drive like Dropbox.  I can save to it, download from it, and it's a safe place to put shoots.

Ahhh, you probably did the math and 4x4 is 16TB, not 10TB. Well, this is something called RAID where the drive magically does something with the data so that any one drive can fail totally and I haven't lost anything.  I can even eject the bad drive, replace it with a new drive, without ever turning the system off or telling it anything.  It's actually very cool little bit of technology.  This is where my last couple years of shoots live until such time as I have wrung them out of any great shots and I move them to a single external drive for long term storage.  This makes the shoots vulnerable to loss if the drive fails, but by this time it's not nearly as important.

The only drawback to a network storage device is that I can't bring up a Lightroom catalog from a network device.  If I want to work on an older shoot I have to drag it to my desktop, do my edits, then drag it back over the old one.  It's well worth the peace of mind to have it so well stored and available to all of my machines.

Consider your storage situation. A few hundred dollars might prevent the flu like symptoms in the event of the inevitable disk crash.  All disks's just a matter of when.