We are just about to enter a brand new year with lots of amazing opportunities. However, what about images from last year and even years past? Obviously we don't want to loose them, if no other reason they bring us great memories. Past images can often be recycled into different portfolios, sold, or if you are the creator edited into a different form. How do you keep your images safe? Do you back them up? Many things can happen to images that are stored in a single location from accidental erasure to total system failure. There are several options open to you.
There really is no shortage of options here. Essentially you are uploading your images to a service which stores your images on a server, ready for you to access. Services such as offered through Goggle, IBM, Carbonite, Microsoft, Dropbox, and iCloud only a few that are available to you. Some services such as iCloud will let you upload directly from your phone which is handy. Smugmug does charge a small starter monthly fee but does allow for significant customization that some other sites lack. Prices and storage vary considerably with almost all services offering several GB's free and then a low monthly charge for additional storage. One of the best deals is through Mega who offers 50 GB free to start. But.. what if you don't always have internet access?
Portable Hard drives
Hard drive storage is certainly an option and prices for external and portable drives are affordable to many people. Western Digital and Seagate hard drives are only two that have provided drives that are very reliable and affordable in a variety of capacities. Drives that are solid state (SSD) and or conventional drives than run at higher speeds (7200 rpm) are typically your best bet. This option may not be for everyone, since hard drives can be delicate and easy to damage, though some like the LaCie (B&H photo) have rugged protective covers as well as a recovery service for lost images. Many drives will come with the optional backup software that may allow you to back up images automatically without having to remember. But, what about the backup software??
Acronis backup software has long been recommended as one of the easiest to operate and efficient software packages on the consumer market. It can clone an entire disk, or allow one to select one directory to backup on a regular basis once configured. The backups are in a compressed format to save storage space rather it be on the cloud or on a portable hard drive. It can backup social media material as well as other images. Of course there are other well recognized services such as Carbonite and Veritas that work well for many people. Backup software of course can backup to more than a portable hard drive or the cloud of course...
Somewhat more expensive than some of the options above, but certainly a very viable option for high volume high worth images. Redundant Array of Independent disks (RAID) combine multiple disks into a system that allows for fast access to your data. It's primary benefit is that if one disk fails (as will eventually happen with many hard drives), the data will still be safe. Combined with appropriate backup software, since system has served business users well for many years. Western Digital, LaCie, and G-Technology are only some of the systems that provide this technology.
Whether you have cherished family photo's or run a high volume business, backing up your images is important. Images can be lost taken from a $100 cell phone or a $10,000 professional camera. Although data recovery services are available, the are often very expensive are results are never guaranteed (regardless of what a vendor may promise). If you do not back up now, please start in the new year!
Bob Barford is a published artist in Southern PA