A Quick Guide to the Proper Way to Back Up Your Photos and Videos

It happens all the time: I see a post from a friend or in a forum with a desperate plea for help because someone's hard drive failed and they have no backup of their work. It's absolutely crucial that you back up your files properly, and this helpful video will give you an overview of how to do that. 

Coming to you from Mango Street, this great video will run you through a proper backup strategy to ensure that you're never without your files should something catastrophic happen. The key that many people overlook is having at least one off-site backup. Having a backup hard drive is great (remember that RAID is not a backup), but if a tornado hits your home or you're robbed, it'll do no good to have all the copies of your data in one place. A lot of people store a drive at a friend's house and bring it home once a month to update, but I personally recommend (as does the video) Backblaze. It's $5 per computer per month for unlimited backup (including attached drives), and it's saved me once already. Whatever you decide, though, just make sure you always have backups in multiple locations. 

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Miles Bergstrom's picture

Over the past couple of years, I've become one of these backup/organization nerds. I like a lot of the points they make within this video. Though the one thing I always suggest to people that I didn't see is custom naming the files you shot within your folder structure. This way you aren't dealing with a series of numbers when you go to look at your images or video.

I also believe there is a great opportunity here to dive into a video structure folder, as being organized there is paramount. Especially when you have multiple hands touching a project.

William Howell's picture

I just started, about a year or so ago, doing like you said when it comes to naming folders. I do the date, (year, month, day), then I separate with the pipe symbol, then the name.

Miles Bergstrom's picture

Exactly, mine is all depending on the project I'm working on and the medium.

For video I separate everything by camera type e.g. ProjectName_C100A_001

If it's a film roll e.g. Porta_Roll01_PROJECT_001

Mind you this is all kept within a more complex set of folders hah.

William Howell's picture

Good advice, it has helped me retrieve my picture quickly.

William Howell's picture

Duuude, Alex post the most pertinent articles, to me! I just bought a one terabyte SSD, now that they have come down in price I bought one. I have my stuff backed up with Time Machine, but I want that extra level of safety. Good repost.

Douglas Turney's picture

Some great tips and I 100% support off site backups. One thing that always concerns me with using an online offsite backup is the risk of the company going out of business. For offsite I put a backup harddrive in my credit union's safe deposit box. I do some online back up also. Safe deposit box is cheap I do a complete computer backup once a month to backup our various company files, not just photos and keep that at the credit union too.

Reginald Walton's picture

I'm all for backups, but Backblaze was horrible for me. I just backup my data to 2 external hard drives (one of them via Time Machine, which then backs up to the cloud) and then to the cloud via iDrive.

Aaron Lyfe's picture

Can't agree with the RAID0 setup, if the raid fails you loose all data on both drives. It would be safer just to use them a single disks if not using RAID1... unless you need the disk i/o performance of RAID0 for some reason

Great advice which I've been doing and I suspect most of us have for the last several years. I wasn't aware of BackBlaze so I'll check that out as well.

Mark Van Noy's picture

*SIGH* Do not, under any circumstances, use RAID 0 for anything you consider important. With RAID 0 you must multiply the Mean Time Between Failure of the chosen drives time the number of drives and that is your new MTBF for the drive array. Basically, two drives are twice as likely to have a failure as one drive and it just gets worse with more drives. Also, if one drive fails the entire array fails and because it is RAID you cannot simply pop out the good drive and copy off the contents. If any RAID 0 drive fails they all have effectively failed so the data on the array is effectively gone. RAID 1 is a reasonably good way to go because if one drive fails the second drive is an identical copy and it can actually be taken out of the array and treated like a stand alone drive. RAID 0 increases performance with at least an equal increase in risk. RAID 1 reduces risk and will give a bit of performance improvement in certain cases. RAID 5, 6, 10, and so on are too complicated to get into a discussion of here.

Your Friendly IT Nerd
(My job title is Windows Infrastructure Architect)

I stopped using Backblaze because it took forever to upload my Raw files. Sometimes up to 6 days. Also Amazon cloud. I had to keep the Mac on for days in order to make the process faster. Has anything changed? Thank you and great video by the way...!

Marco Badalian's picture

since you cannot choose what gets backed up , does Backblaze pick up on USB connected hard drive and back that up as well ?

Sergio Miranda's picture

wow, so much work man. You are not a photographer, you are a backupper! I've lost all my work once. And I'm still alive...

Motti Bembaron's picture

What I did not like about Backblaze is the fact that in the process of installing the app it was already uploading all my computer to their server. No warning whatsoever. I installed the app and went away from the computer and it just kept uploading. Very Intrusive in my opinion.

Yes, there is an option for settings (I think, since I promptly deleted the app from my PC) but you would think it would be the first thing to pop up and let you make your own decision.

Why companies think they can think for me? wtf...