Backing up your images.

I see a lot of discussion across various forums and Facebook groups about backups. Usually in the form of “What backup system/strategy/etc. does everyone here use”. As with a lot of topics on the technical side of digital photography there is rarely a single answer that is best for everyone. However, there is one thing that I feel should be implemented in any backup strategy and that’s redundancy. To illustrate this I wanted to discuss my backup strategy and how it works.

My backup plan includes three backup locations with two if them updated daily and the third updated each week. First, I have a NAS (network attached storage) device on my local network at home. A NAS a dedicated network device that contains a hard drive (or drives) where files can be written to or read from over my home network. While it is nearby in my home, it is not physically connected to my PC. If something were to happen to the computer itself I would still be able to access the backup data from my home network. This backup runs everyday when the computer is idle.

Next, I have an external USB hard drive that contains a weekly backup of my data. On Sunday evenings I’ll plug this drive in and let the backup software update the files from the previous week. The next day I will take the drive with me to my office and it stays in a drawer until the next weekend where the process gets repeated. This provides an offsite backup in case something happens to our home which is easily accessible via a short drive to work.

The last line of defense is an online backup service where all of my data is stored in “the cloud”. This backup runs daily like the local network backup and is accessible from any internet connection. This would be the slowest* option to restore from but would be better than nothing if both my NAS and portable hard drive were to tank.

So including the active working drive in my PC, I have four copies of my working data (photos/videos/documents/etc). It would sound like managing that would be a chore in itself but with the service I use it’s pretty much “fire and forget”. So I’m going to sound like a commercial for a minute but I know some are going to ask what I’m using to handle all of this backing up.

The answer is I use Crashplan for Small Business to handle my backups. (start disclaimer) Before I explain why I want to say I have no affiliation with Code42 or Crashplan other than I prefer their product for my use and workflow. (end disclaimer)

There are plenty of online backup options out there but I use Crashplan for one specific, but important, reason. Local back management. The Crashplan app not only manages uploading my files to the online backup servers but it will also handle backing up to my NAS and to my portable hard drive. This makes for an elegant and flexible solution. My backups run daily to the NAS and online storage and to backup to the portable hard drive I just plug the drive in. After a minute Crashplan will recognize the drive’s presence and start backing up any data that has changed.

This really couldn’t be much simpler from the user side of things. Just remember to plug the drive in every week and I’ve got three redundant copies of my data. While I am certainly not suggesting that my approach is the only way to handle backing up one’s photos and data it has worked well for me. I’m hoping that readers here will find something useful in this that they can implement for their needs.

-Brandon