iPhoneography Workflow Part 4: Backups and Storage

You wouldn’t want to lose all your work on those beautiful pictures so it’s good to back the images up.  Duplicates in different places mean a disaster in one place (iPad stolen, PC or MAC crashes) mean that you still have your work.  Your work shooting in the field for hours, your work editing that one special picture, your work capturing the perfect look on grandma’s face.  So back it up.

IMG_2547Julie Kitzenbeger, a fantastic living photographer, inspired my utopian use case: A thorough backup strategy would include backing photos to a PC or Mac, an external portable drive, on the cloud and on a drive kept at a friend’s or family member’s house in a different city (in case of a disaster like a fire or earthquake.) I cannot claim this level of safety and security yet but it is something to aspire to.

Here are a few ways you can back up your beautiful photos:

On your PC or MAC: We walked through how to get your photos from your iDevice to your Mac or PC in an earlier post.  The good news is that if you do this, you already have one backup.  The only risk here is if your internal drive or flash memory gets full, your computer stolen or someone spills pop in your keyboard.  Even with beautiful MTBF (mean time between failure) numbers on drives, they still fail. I’m just saying. So maybe you want another backup.

On an external drive: There are many levels of sophistication here from a simple external and/or portable hard drive ($) to a Drobo ($$$$).  “My Passport Essential” from Western Digital came in first place in a review of portable hard drives but it is interesting to note that Apple’s drives are not included in the review. This level is as far as I have gotten in my backup strategy.

But wait, there’s more. A RAID (redundant array of independent disks) array is the next level of sophistication in backup storage.  This is an “enclosure” of sheetmetal or plastic with several “shelves” each loaded with 1 hard drive.  The idea behind a RAID is to minimize the risk of one drive failing by distributing the data across several drives and by having a copy of the data on more than one drive.  When you connect the RAID to your PC or MAC, it looks like one external drive. You still have to pick RAID levels and manage the RAID.  Enough said.

The last and final level of sophistication on this front is to use a Drobo, a “BeyondRAID” solution. The drives are hotswappable meaning you can put one in and take one out at any time and expandable meaning you can start with one drive and add more as your budget allows.  The Drobo 2nd Generation is marketed to photo and video enthusiasts and professionals and is the low-end price entry point at around $399.  If you’re familiar with B & H Photo and Video you can find a number of Drobo options there. Maybe in 2013 I’ll try this but not yet.

On the Cloud: Cloud storage comes in many flavors.  Dropbox, Box and iCloud are “public cloud” storage meaning available to the public.  Amazon also offers public cloud storage. A “private cloud” is one only available to a private entity like a company.  As mentioned in an earlier post, iCloud compression algorithms may cause damage to your photo pixels according to Dan Burkholder.  If you find any evidence of this please let me know.  I’m not sure I know where to look. You can also create your own personal cloud (and I don’t mean Linus here). Cloud storage is essentially another way to have a drive at your mom’s house in another city.  A limited amount of storage for free is usually the drawback.  For example, Dropbox starts at 2GB and you have to invite friends to get more.  Box starts at 10GB.

Now what? So after all that you may feel a bit overwhelmed.  I know I am.  Just pick the next one thing to do to improve your backup strategy and you’ll be making progress.  If you only have your images on devices, get them over to a computer.  If you only have them on a computer, get them over to an external hard drive.

What’s your backup and storage strategy? Where is it good?  Where is it falling short for you?

Thanks for making it to the end of this post!!!  Jennifer


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