Being a photographer in the digital world brings some unique needs compared to the film days. Those digital image are my life, something happens to them I don’t get paid or worse! A lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. Once having a RAID drive die (both drives) that ended up costing me over $1,000 to restore, and that was just my portion thanks to insurance!
Backing up your files can be one of the most important ‘to dos’ you have these days. From your family photos to your financial data, our lives are on these hard drives. When they go bad (yes when) it can be devastating.
Again as a photographer I have several methods of back ups going. My main hard drive is backed up using Mac’s time machine to an external drive. The photos that I take are backed up multiple times. Before I leave the studio I download the cards to an external drive. When I arrive at my home office I use Lightroom to simultaneously download the files to two external hard drives. One is my production drive the other the back up for the raw images. I used to use an external RAID but had some bad luck with them (see above). The RAID set up was great because everything that was done on one drive was automatically mirrored to the other. So all my working files and edits were backed up as well. Currently I have to manually back up these working files and that is a pain.
Recently I added another layer of back up to the plan, online backup. A few years ago I tried this when online backup services were just starting. Back then if you we’re backing up more than a few Word and Excel files it was not practical (RAW and PSD files were a joke taking a day for one file). Things have improved quite a bit in speed and cost so I took the plunge.
I ended up choosing BackBlaze.com over the others for many reason, top among them was cost. For $5 a month I can backup unlimited files on unlimited computers, if I wanted to pay a year or two in advance then I could get it down to $3.99 a month.
While I said things have improved with speed it still isn’t an instant backup for me. You see I have about 3TB of photo files (RAW, PSD, Jpg, and TIFFs) and these are pretty large files. Depending on your ISP connection and when you are using your computer I have seen uploads range from 2-25GB a day, I will say that it seems faster than some of the others I have tried. The software that runs in the background has an auto throttle setting that will adjust the speed depending again on your computer use and available bandwidth. I found that I didn’t really like its choices as most of the day it was throttled down, I determined I could work most of the time with it manually throttled up almost to max. Right before bed I’d make sure it was maxed out for the night.
You can also of course select which drives it will back up. If you have multiple internals, the main drive is always backed up (no choice). It also will not back up your time machine drive. It will however backup every other external drive you have connected. Unlike carbonate which limits you to one. They do need to stay connected though. If you unplug it you have 30 days to plug it back in or they will erase the data from their servers. NAS drives are excluded for some reason.
You can also choose file types to exclude, it will back up any file type but there are many (much excluded by default) that you shouldn’t bother with and you just type the exclusions extensions in. On that note another benefit is that they will backup your video files while some of the other backup services will not or will charge you extra.
Once your initial back up is done it will continue to back up your changes and new files in the background, this might be when I put it back on auto throttle. Need a file or to restore something? You just log into the website from any browser anywhere and then go through the file structure, exactly how you have it on your computer and you can download the file or have it send you a zip folder of several files. Need to restore the whole thing? They will send you a thumb drive or a hard drive with everything there.
Another great restore feature is you can go back in time without even having a flux capacitor! Once logged in you you select a date to get previous versions of a particular file, back up to 4 weeks of versions are kept.
So far I can’t see anything wrong with the service I backed up some files and I have restored some. It’s taking a long time for my initial backup yes, like I said I have a lot of large files. It has been going now for about 2+ weeks and I still have 51,000 out of 278,000 files to go once done though I will have a better piece of mind that all my photos going back many years, as well as all my other files are backed up many times and safe.
Online back up shouldn’t be your only solution but it should be in your plan to have a reliable offsite back up. You can never have to many backups but if you only do one method it can be your best choice.
Looking for an affordable backup solution for your home? Give Back Blaze a try, you can get started with a 15day trial to play around with it.
Are you backing up your important files? How so? If not why not?