How to Keep Your Cool During Computer Crashes

How to Keep Your Cool During Computer Crashes

The last thing you want to deal with is computer crashes in the middle of editing. If you have been in the business long enough you know it will happen sooner or later. Let's face it, electronics can crash, malfunction, or worse. Having a solid backup plan for your images is important to keep your cool and carry on. 

Recently I had the misfortune of losing a whole folder of images. My normal workflow is to edit on my Mac, with BackBlaze continually backing up, and then at least once a week or more adding folders to my external hard drive for a third fail safe plan. However the joy of the holiday, taking pictures of the family, and being oh so free as a bird made me forget one small but important fact. This was that I was hooked up to my external instead of my computer when editing the last client of the year. Wrapped up in holiday bliss, I failed to make sure I was saving to the correct location. 


Online backup programs are not designed to back up your external hard drives as they are removed in this case. In the only instance I have ever done such a mistake, the external hard drive crashed and was not recognized by my computer. I could have screamed or wanted to rip my eyes out, but I knew I had even more backup plans. 

Image courtesy of Alex Iby on Unsplash

While this could have been a nightmare, I first contacted PPA where I have insurance to protect me from these types of issues. A data recovery could range from well over $1700 in the quote I received. The PPA insurance costs me $27 a month and only $200 to repair. 

Thankfully in the meantime, I remembered I had uploaded my clients images to ShootProof for her last approval. This saved me the time in between waiting for the hard drive to return to download and get her album to her. While it would have been the best option to be more mindful and save to the correct drive, having multiple ways to back up your data is important to your business. Setting a reminder on my calendar to back up to a fourth location is now part of my workflow. If you have ever experienced an issue that you survived because of a back up plan comment below to let us know how you handled it. 

Cover image courtesy of Vincent Botta on Unsplash 

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8 Comments

imagecolorado's picture

I feel your pain.

I only use external drives as backups. Just buy a USB docking bay for less than $50 and 2TB HD's for under $50, and copy everything to hard drives for backups. You should have two backup copies. No single point of failure.

JetCity Ninja's picture

i edit from within a dropbox sync’d folder so there’s always an instant, offsite backup. my NAS and USB storage array cover me locally but aren’t real-time backups while a long term, offsite backup is supplied by an Amazon S3 account.

then again, i don’t shoot professionally so all of this is just my OCD and good computer hygiene developed over many years of negative experiences. i never, ever work directly from an external drive; my work begins once the files are on my scratch disk and the drive unplugged. besides, my scratch disk is far faster and more reliable than all but the most niche external drives available to consumers. </subtle brag>

Rod Kestel's picture

Yeah, nothing quite so miserable as seeing your hard work festering on a dead disk.

I'm writing books (x2) and losing data would be disaster, so I have multiple layers of backup. 1) sync to Dropbox; 2) sync to a local USB drive;

And...3) sync to a drive that I bring online only for backups.This is important(!) because of the ransomware that encrypts all the data it can find. By the time you realise it's got you, you and your online backups are screwed. I can't bear to even think of that scenario.

Jacques Cornell's picture

I keep all projects that are still in progress on my Mac Pro's internal SSD (for speed), and have that backed up to an external drive via Time Machine. Once a project is completed, I move it to an external RAID which is backed up daily to another external hard drive.
Folks who are interested in this topic might find useful an article I posted on my blog about preparing to avoid down-time in the event of a drive failure while on the road. Here it is.
https://www.happening.photos/blog/2016/7/my-computer-melted

marknie's picture

Adding script blockers in my browser and using SSD drives stopped the crashes for me.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Another Fstoppers author using an Unsplash image rather than grabbing their camera and creating what they need.

I wonder if these authors use Unsplash images when writing articles pertaining to their photography niche.

This is just bad form from Fstoppers and it shouldn’t be allowed. The “photography is free” message is not one that Fstoppers should be reinforcing and promoting.

Way too many of the Unsplash contributors have no understanding of intellectual property and/or the value of their work. Fstoppers is supposed to be about educating the photography community, not contributing to the self-exploitation common amongst its less intellectual property savvy members.

Why, Lee and Patrick, in a community where people earn their living through photography, do we continue to see your site promoting Unsplash? I’m sure you have some form of editorial guidelines in place regarding what is and is not acceptable in an Fstoppers article. How is Unsplash not on the No Fly list?

user-206807's picture

If you lose your files (not only images) 99% of the time it is your fault, so you get only what you deserve!

There is only one watchword: backup backup backup backup backup backup backup backup backup
I know people who are still not backing up their work. Then, when they lose all their work they cry and accuse their computer, or bad luck ......

I make regular backups on external HDDs every 15 days + 1 suddenly after every important works.
I also make a complete backup every two months on HDDs that I keep in another place (to my mother in law home, 20 km far from my own studio).

When I work outside the studio, I always take a 1 TB hard drive to save all my images for the current session. So I have a copy on the MacBook Pro and one on the external hard drive. Then, I also keep the files on the cards whenever possible (but most of the time, I shoot in tethered mode).

OSX time machine can be configured to back up external drives.

after losing my external drive. I've relied on cloud storgage as my backup. Haven't done a NAS yet.