In my short life I have seen way too many (at least 5) photographers loose their photo archive when a hard drive failed. Hard drives will die, and when you least expect it, so backup.
My personal solution is simple but safe against any 2 of the following 3 occurring:
- Hard-drive failure
- Local disaster
- Death of the internet
If the rapture occurs, well…I won’t be too worried about my photo archive. I’ll just be chanting “f/8 ad be there” while asking Jesus for caption information.
So my three prongs are:
1) Have a single, consistent archive. It’s a pain but do it. The specifics are up to your imagination but be consistent in your naming of folders and photos so that they all fit in one orderly place and be easy to find. Mine is an external hard drive.
2) Burn the really important stuff to DVD’s
3) Backup remotely. We all have our websites and most of those websites have free space, hopefully a lot of free space. I use DreamHost, which with their specials, rewards, and discounts has cost a total of $9 for the last two years and gives 700GB of space, just enough for almost all my photos.
FTPing my whole archive up there at one time wont work (I tried). It takes days on most connections and restarts the process after each connection break.FTP programs such as Cyberduck and Transmit have a “sync” option which will mirror a folder on your hard drive to a folder on a server, and might work for some people but I found that the FTP connection broke after transfering only a few photos.
So I use a little known feature in OS X called “rsync”. Underneath the shiny surface of every mac is UNIX, an operating system created by smart, lazy, nerds for smart, lazy nerds. When I say lazy, I mean supremely lazy. They don’t even like lifting their hands from the keyboard to the mouse so everything they do on the computer was by typed commands on what is called a command line, we can see the command line by opening up the program called “Terminal” (its sitting in applications/utilities folder, or just do a spotlight search for it).
These smart, lazy, nerds created “rsync” to mirror two folders with just a little typing. But they were smart so the jumble of letters will look complicated, but trust me it’s not.
Basically every time I want to backup my archive I open terminal and copy and paste this line in and press enter:
rsync -rogpav -e ssh /Volumes/BACKUP/PhotoArchive www.incendiaryimage.com:RemoteBackup
The parts that you will have to change are in brackets:
rsync -rogpav -e ssh [local archive folder] [remote archive address]:[remote archive folder]
After typing all of this up I am starting to see how complicated it can be for the first time Terminal user, but trust me it’s doable just google any problems you run into or ask your questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer.
However you do it back up and save yourself a lot of grief.