Recovery
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nevin

We’ve talked extensively about backup hardware, but that’s just one part of a total backup solution. Software is important too — it allows you to manage multiple backup devices, schedules, and file revisions. Each software package offers different features, and each photographer had different requirements, so it’s best to do your homework before picking a backup software.

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
TOC — PHOTO BACKUP GUIDE
BACK — ONLINE SERVICES
NEXT — STRATEGY

In the next article, we’ll pull everything together and talk about strategy.

THE BASICS

Backup software simply provides a means to duplicate data across multiple pieces of hardware. When dealing with thousands of files, this software is critical to keeping track of everything. Although the concept of duplicating data is simple, there are a number of more complex features included with most backup software.

The most important feature of backup software is the ability to do incremental backups. This means that after the initial backup, subsequent backups only include new or modified files. Without this feature, each backup would take an excessive amount of time and disk space.

Another important feature of backup software is scheduled backups. Most of us have too many things to remember on a daily basis, so allowing the software to automatically backup your photos (or remind you to do so) is a major convenience.

Other features in backup software might include compression, encryption, remote access, synchronization, and more. Some backup software also allows you to keep multiple revisions of your data, allowing you to dig back to several file versions earlier.

BACKING UP

There’s really not much to it once you get the hang of your software. Usually, you’ll go through some kind of “wizard” with a series of dialog boxes. You tell the software which files/folders to backup, where to put the backup, how often, and any other options for compression, revision control, encryption, etc.

Some people like to backup once per week, once per day, etc. Others like to constantly keep their hardware synchronized. Either way is fine as long as you know the risks of each. Backing up at some time interval leaves gaps that are open to data loss — say you backup every Friday, you could have a failure on Thursday and lose nearly a weeks worth of work. On the other hand, constantly synchronizing your hardware takes care of these gaps, but it makes your backup hardware more vulnerable to failures such as lightning strikes, fire, and theft.

Depending on the volume of new photos you produce, you should find it easy to set your frequency preferences. And if you do a big photo shoot, you can always run a one-time backup to ease your mind.

CONCLUSIONS

Like I mentioned already, when it comes to backing up your photos the software is important too. Without a good backup software, you don’t have a feasible means of utilizing your backup hardware. Find something that suits your needs, and keep the points I mentioned above in mind.

PRODUCTS

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In addition to the items shown below, most operating systems have backup software included. This would be a good place to start, but you may find that the software lacks certain features when compared to 3rd party software. Most external hard drives also come with some type of backup software included, but again, the feature set may be limited.

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I think it’s also very important to test your backups by doing a test restore.
After all, there’s no point in doing backups if your restore is going to fail!

December 29, 2008 7:01 pm

Good point! Most backup softwares use proprietary archive files, so you can’t just browse the backup through the OS and copy & paste individual files (though, some software you can do this through their interface). Test out the backup on a small set of files so you don’t waste a bunch of time and disk space doing so.

December 29, 2008 7:05 pm

Great article Brian! First of all, I use Lightroom as my main software to catalog and process my pictures. I use an external hardrive only dedicated for photos, and on that I have put my Lightroom library and all the photos so that I can bring it with me and use it toghether with my MacBook Pro or another computer. Once a day I make a scheduled backup of that drive to a second harddrive and for that I use “Personal BackUp X4″ from Intego Software. Upon that I make an automated Time Machine Backup of that drive together with my internal harddrive to another drive. Finaly I make a bootable discimage once a week. As you can see, I’m pretty paranoid in my backup-strategy but if you’ve lost photos one time in a harddrive-crash you would swear that it would’nt happend again. Happy New Year, and thank you Brian for all your sharing!

December 31, 2008 10:07 am


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