Basic Backup Strategy for Photographers with under 4tb of Data to Backup


I'm a part time photographer based in Louisiana.. My main job is IT/Data Recovery.. I do quite a bit of consulting to professional photographers on setting up backup solutions and making sure their photos are safe and secure. 

As a photographer, you job involves a lot more than just taking some good photos.. You've got to keep those photos, and if something catastrophic happens.. you need to be able to recover quickly from it.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do I have a backup? Have I EVER tested it to make sure its really backing up what i think its backing up? 
- If you computer dies, or is stolen how much data would you lose? 
- If you house floods or burns down what happens? can you recover?
- Have you ever tested your backup to make sure what you think is backing up.. can be restored? (is it working?)
- Are you all incorporated/LLC to protect your personal assets if you were to get sued by a client?
- How much data do i have? Roughly how much space will I use up this year? 
- Will my current harddrive and backup be able to handle the growth of my business?

Here is a basic but solid solution i recommend: (Total Cost about 600.00)

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 1. UPS Power Supply (fancy surge protector with a battery) - 60.00

Plug just your essentials into this.. Computer and primary harddrive.. if the power goes out while you are working, you have around 5 to 10 minutes to save your work and shut things down gracefully before the battery runs out. If you install the software that comes with it, if the power goes out and you arent home, the battery will shut down your computer gracefully if the power goes out.

2. Primary Storage - Western Digital 8tb RAID drive -

This harddrive is actually 2 drives in one plastic enclosure. The 8tb model is actually two 4tb drives. Out of the box it is setup in a way to use both drives as one big drive. (two 4tb drives = 8tb) This is a TERRIBLE idea.. if one drive dies.. you lose everything.. but if you go through the setup application that comes with the drive and change the drive to its "mirroring mode" or "RAID 1 - Mirroring" it will still look and act like one 4tb drive, but its actually copying the data to each of the 4tb drives within the box. If one drive fails, you wont lose anything and will still be able to work. (and get your data off) You can call the company, they can send you a replacement drive and you're all set and redundant again. 

THIS IS NOT A BACKUP.. its a redundant solution.. meaning you wont lose any work.. and you will be able to continue to work.. but it wont help if you get flooded, accidentally delete a file, or save over something.

3: $59.99 a year *unlimited* backup
Backup Solution for both the *cloud* and to an external drive. (both windows and mac) This backup is in case something catastrophic happens, or a simple accident where you delete over a file, or save over a file. 

Load the software, tell it what folders to back up.. and any time you are on the internet, it quietly sends your files to their servers.. You can also set it up to back up locally (in your house) to an external drive. 

The cloud backup is great if something truly catastrophic happens. Its a VERY VERY slow process to send all your images to their servers.. you'll average about 10gb-12gb a day with a standard home internet.. so a little math. thats about 2 months a terabyte if its running 24 hours a day.. 

Because the initial cloud backup is so slow,  you need a local backup too. Crashplan can also be set to backup to an external drive.. so all your backup stuff is set and monitored in once place.. it keeps things simple. Crashplan will backup much faster to a local external drive. It'll be able to backup a terabyte in 4-6 hours.. Once your initial backup is complete, it only sends the files that are new or that have changed. So it'll be much faster.

4. External Drive for Backup (x2)
Regular external drive for backup (x2)

Two drives the same size or bigger as your primary storage drive

You get two so you can rotate them every 2 weeks, or 4 weeks. Put it as a reminder in your phone or on your calander. One stays plugged into your computer.. the other is offsite.. or in another location.. When its time to rotate you swap them. 

if crashplan is set up correctly it will *see* you swapped drives and look at whats on the drive plugged in and add the new files and the files that have changed. 

This means if you have major catastophic failure before crashplan has finished sending stuff to the cloud.. at most you'll lose 2 weeks or 1 months worth of your work. If you have a busy season you could rotate more often during that time to ensure you have everything safely backed up.

a few notes:
- Crashplan is good until 4-5tb of data.. at that point it kinda falls part.. In theory it is unlimited.. and they will provide unlimited storage, but their software itself cant keep up with 4-5tb of information.. keeping track of what files of changed.. and what is new. 

- If you are in a rural area without fast internet, you can still use crashplan for free to backup just to the external drives. (from what i'm told, i havent tried this)

- The links i sent are just suggestions you can use whatever brand stuff you want. 

- If you have over 4 or 5tb of data.. its time to start thinking of professional solutions.. if you are moving in that direction.. start budgeting now.. 1000.00-1500.00 for that kinda solution.. 

- if you dont have a backup.. and a drive fails.. or a card fails.. this is the ONLY place i would send your drive:
They are the world leaders in this.. 300.00 for an initial diagnostic.. that money goes towards the repair/recovery.. avg recovery cost is 500-1200.00 for recovery depending on the damage. 

This is just the workflow i recommend.. there are 1000 different ways to do it.. just do something.