Mario’s Note: In today’s article Vicente Nadal shares his vision on how to define a backup strategy and thus have backup copies of the photos we take.
Having a good photo backup strategy is important because why do you know someone who has lost all their photos when your computer breaks down? Has it ever happened to you?
The first and fundamental thing to be able to have a good security of your photos is to be aware that having them on the disk “C” is a serious error and the worst thing you can do for several reasons:
- If the hard disk is irreparably damaged and must be changed all data is lost
- If you have to format the disk to regain control, the data is lost too
- If an aggressive virus enters and deletes the data, all photos are also lost
- If your computer is stolen you lose everything
The solution is to backup the photos on another disk in one of the following ways:
- Use additional disk by default.
- Automatic backup
- Copy the photos to «the cloud».
Let’s see how each of these options is.
1) ADD A “DIFFERENT” DISK
On current Windows PCs it is common for the operating system to configure a folder called “My Documents.” Being a folder of the “system” calls can not be deleted but it can be moved to another disk for example, if you follow some simple instructions.
The first step would be to add an additional hard drive to the computer. This can be requested at the store where they sell it to you or at any technical service. This new disk will usually be called “E” (although it may have a different letter if you have more drives in your computer).
You can also do it by connecting an external hard drive through the USB port, it works exactly the same.
Once you have this additional disk connected, you click with the right mouse button on the “My Documents” folder and select “properties”. This is usually on the desktop or you can see it by clicking on the “Computer” icon on the desktop. Once in the properties panel you select the «Location» tab.
In this tab you have the path in which this folder is and the possibility to “move” the folder to another location. In this case you click on “Move” and select as destination the additional hard drive you have set. You can see in the examples that I have this folder in the unit «E«. When you make this change you will not lose anything, all the files you have are moved to the new location.
All you have to keep in mind is that there must be enough space on the new disk for the data you already have stored in the “My Documents” folder.
With this change we not only keep our photos safe from catastrophes, we also save any document that we have inside that folder.
The downside of this system is that it forces you to install another hard drive or have it always connected external.
The advantage is that except for the catastrophe of that album you can rest easy, because you can always take all your documents with you.
2) USE AUTO BACKUP SOFTWARE
Another way to have the data safe is to make a backup (Backup is called) automatically. For this I would recommend the Cobian Backup program. It’s in Spanish and it’s simple to use … and it’s free.
Normally backups can be done in two ways basically:
- Global copy of all data every time period.
- Copy only the data that has changed since the last copy.
The best option is to backup each and every one of the new or changing files, creating a “mirror” copy of your data. You just have to indicate to the program the path of the backup and the time at which you should make the copy.
Obviously this is useless if you save the backup copy to the same disk of your photos. To be effective you have to make the backup on another external disk … and we run into the same problem as before, having to buy an additional disk
3) SAVE YOUR PHOTOS IN «THE CLOUD»
There are more and more online services that offer free file storage on the Internet. Basically it is about creating identical duplicates of the content of our computer fully accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year… In addition also accessible from the mobile smartphone, tablet, iPad, etc.
Perhaps the best known of all is Dropbox for possibly being the first of all. There are currently many more, more complete and offer much more storage space.
Most of these services have a more or less similar operation:
- You access the website of the service (for example DropBox).
- Create your account with an email and password.
- Once inside you personalize your data.
- This platform will tell you to install a program on your computer for the file synchronization utility.
- Once this program is installed, a folder of this program (in this case also called DropBox) is automatically created within the «My Documents» folder to synchronize everything you put in creating an identical duplicate of its content.
- If you are on a friend’s computer you can access your account on the Web of this service and access your files.
- If your computer is deleted or you buy another one, you will just have to install the application again and re-enter with your username and password. Miraculously all your files will be copied alone back to your computer by downloading from the cloud.
- If you install the APP of this service on your smartphone you can also access your documents from it.
- Normally these services have automatic upload to the cloud of the photos taken with the camera of the phone (if the user so wishes).
The restriction that most of these programs have is that they can only copy what is inside their folder, the one that they create automatically and usually this folder is created inside the folder «My Documents».
A few file services in the cloud, in addition to creating this folder on your system, allow you to mark what other folders on your entire computer you want to include in the backup. For me the most interesting of all who do this is SugarSync because in addition to doing this you can synchronize the contents of a folder between several computers and the phone, so that everyone always shows exactly the same content.
So you can have the same content on your work computer, home, mountain house, laptop and desktop … All without you noticing and fully automatically.
More than a year ago I wrote an article comparing several of the cloud storage services. It is somewhat outdated but basically it is still useful. In addition there are the manuals of each of the services.
4) “PARANOID” BACKUPS
Mario’s Note: Warning, the next section of the article may seem too technical. You are notified.
If you are obsessed with security and everything seems too little here you have what you need, a triple redundant system that will prevent you from ever missing anything.
The first is a bit of vocabulary. Now I will talk to you about what a RAID disk system is… You better read it on Wikipedia , we will advance more. I wait for you to finish.
Have you already soaked in what a RAID is? Good because for the paranoid system of Backup you will have to know what is a RAID1 and a RAID5.
The first thing you have to do is buy an external USB-pluggable box in which two disks fit and can be configured as RAID1. This is when the two discs are an exact copy of the other, you only see one in your file manager and all the content is duplicated.
The good thing about these boxes is that if one of the two discs breaks down, you change it and magically the data of the good disk is copied to the new one. Thanks to that I have saved my data a couple of times … of course, I use the paranoid system, it shows.
You also have to move the My Documents folder to this double mirror disk.
Sooner or later you will end up not being able to store everything on this double disk. So you will have to erase data from that disk and transfer it to another “definitive” storage.
For that you can do two things: the data that you are going to erase the copies before on two external disks that you will label and save separately … or if you do not want to stop being connected with that data you can create a RAID5 for definitive copies.
Basically a RAID5 is a 5-disk tower that distributes the data so that even if a disk is broken, without turning off the tower and being on, you can change the broken disk to a new one and the data is self-regenerated. These boxes can be connected via USB or can be configured asNAS network disk .
The capacity of a RAID5 is much greater and it will take many years to complete it, for sure. The only thing that RAID5 has is that you have to invest in 5 additional hard drives, but it is catastrophic and compulsive photographers.
If you are a professional or you are thinking about it, having a RAID5 is not an option, it is an absolute obligation.
The third part of the redundant copy would be to copy everything in the cloud with a system like DropBox. Even with several of those programs at the same time … A lot of madness, right? That’s how paranoid I am with my photos
Do you make backup copies of your photos? How do you do them? Can you think of any other way to make backup copies?