How Many Photo Backups Do You Have?

To get us rolling with the photo backup series, let’s do a little poll to find out where everyone is at with their redundancy habits. This will help give me a better idea of who I’m writing to for the upcoming articles. It will also shed some light on typical habits of other photographers.


What I’m asking for is how many independent photo backups you maintain. I know RAID setups are kinda fuzzy, but let’s still count those as one. Other forms of backups can include internal or external hard drives, DVDs, flash drives, memory cards, online services, etc.


And based on the results of our last poll, I think we’ll be going forward without an Epic Edits forum. When asked if we want one, most people were in the “maybe” or “no thanks” category. And as many commented, there are a ton of already great forums out there, so why start another?

17 thoughts on “How Many Photo Backups Do You Have?

  1. Jenni

    It depends a bit for me, because I have some older backup drives that have parts of my collection on them, so older pictures have more backups than newer pictures. I also consider Flickr as a backup of sorts.
    But my main photography collection resides on the HDD of my iMac and is backed up on an external drive, which consists of two drives that are the mirror images of one another. When I find the time I also do a manual backup to a third external drive.
    I’m paranoid that I am going to lose pictures.

  2. Janne

    Flickr is my combined off-site backup and convenient sharing point, so anything I’d want to keep and anything I want to link to somewere on the web goes there. It’s only secondarily a showcase for me, and my photostream certainly shows it. I’d wish you could define a “public stream” showing only the uploads you tag especially for it.

    At home we have a largish (1Tb) networked drive where I have another copy of all my images (actually, backups of our computers at home in general), and I keep one set of the processed images on my computer. As storage gets tight on my computer I burn stuff onto DVD’s.

    But actually, I figure that if I lose some images then so be it. Things aren’t black and white and there’s a vast middle ground between data you care nothing about and data without which your life loses its meaning. A few pictures I have are really important to me; some I really like to keep around, and more still are nice to have. But if I would lose some of those “nice to have” then no big deal, really. It’s not worth it for me to lose sleep over trying to keep every single image I have ever shot safe and sound for eternity. If I can make sure those few images that really, really matter to me are around then that is good enough.

  3. the_wolf_brigade

    Easily 6+. I have various backups on CDs, DVDs and various USB hard drives. I’m pretty paranoid. Like I said last time though – no offsite storage, and I’d like to get a fireproof safe for a set of backups/negatives as well.

  4. philippe

    Due to regular problems with computers, I decided to buy 2 external hard drives; original pics stay on the computer; one external (and very light) hard drive I use when I go to a place or another; the other one stay at home, and I make a copy every one or 2 months (I could be lazy…).
    Thanks for your very interesting blog, always “fresh” and full of ideas.

  5. Marty

    You can never emphasise the need for backups enough – far too many people lose photos and other data far too often!
    I have the master copy of my photos on the primary (RAID1) HDD in my desktop PC. This is periodically mirrored onto a secondary HDD in the desktop PC via a script, and onto a (RAID1) HDD in my linux server. The linux server then mirrors them onto another HDD in the server on a nightly basis.
    I use two external USB HDDs for portable backups, with one stored offsite, and one onsite, and rotate them ever couple of weeks.

  6. Iceman

    I keep 3.

    1 backed up on a Network HD
    1 Archived to DVD
    1 loaded onto a photoserver (though only high res JPGs).

    This way if my HD fails — which I’ve had one do — I have the DVDs. Also, if my flat is destroyed I still have high res JPGs as backup.

    I guess I also keep a few working files on a number of laptops, but the quantity and the individual files change.

    Finally, I never delete the originals off of the CF card until they are on at least two different sources.

  7. Stefan Tell

    3 is my number as well. Or maybe temporarily 4.

    I work both from my office and from home with one computer at each place. The internal hard drives at both places have identical content as a result of me taking backups on a portable USB-drive which I bring with me between the office and home.

    And every week I try to make a backup to an external hard drive, so that makes it 4 I guess.

    Better safe than sorry would be a good summary of all this. I always get a bit sad when I hear of friends who does not take this seriously and loses important stuff that will never come back. The time invested in having a good back-up routine is well worth it, and a big hard drive is very cheap these days.

  8. David

    I have working copy + 4
    1st Copy is archived to sepreate HDD on the same computer and is the out of camera NEF
    2nd Copy is also original NEF and is archived offsite about 20 miles away at my brothers.
    3rd Copy is network drive original
    4th Copy is working copy and is archived to a hard drive on my network but wirelessly in an unconnected neighbour house (I also have one of his drives for him to to do the same thing)

  9. Bryan Villarin

    I have a Drobo with 2x500GB hard drives (460GB protected) filled almost to 70%, so I’ll need to add another HD before I buy an external HD for offsite backups.

    Until then, I’m screwed if there’s a huge disaster at home.

  10. Raymond

    There are 8 copies of everything , not just images.

    D:(updated nightly)

    Then 3 off site boxes that go to the bank vault each with two copies that are rotated regularly.

  11. Gary

    My photo backups are:
    - Originals (on a single drive)
    - Nightly incremental copy to Amazon S3 (encrypted, and using JungleDisk. All new photos are copied to the cloud)
    - Monthly backup of photos to external HD
    - Yearly burn the year to DVD

    So far, touch wood, I haven’t needed them.

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