A question I get asked all the time is how to best protect my data storage, especially when it comes to protecting those once in a lifetime images. We all know that technology changes quicker than we can keep up with, and a lot of our sworn methods are slowly becoming obsolete. CD drives are no longer standard on computers, and some of the go to ports are no longer attached either. (Oh yes, I remember you Firewire 800!). Not only are we concerned about technology becoming obsolete, but we also need to be concerned about the files getting lost, stolen, deleted, or becoming corrupted.
I feel like answering this question comes in two parts. One is how a professional should handle data storage, and the other is for the everyday user.
File storage as a professional creator should be of utmost importance to you. YES investing in your storage is more important than that new lens, upgrading your desktop, or any other fun tech-gadget. The topics I am going to discuss include:
+Computer Hard drive
Working Drives | Computer+External hard drive
For many years, I used the first two options (Computer+external hard drive) as my primary and backup systems. But during a weekend, I could easily shoot over 100GB of RAW files, and I would invest in so many hard drives, and hated not having the access I would want to them. Once one of my hard drives died, and I had to spend even MORE money on recovering files, I knew I needed to invest in the next two options. I only keep files on my computer that I am working on, and use the external hard drive to backup my working files.
RAID System – DROBO
Coming from the tech world, I use to WISH I could have a RAID system, but I knew that they could be so complicated that I would regret investing in a headache. Now we have options for extremely user-friendly RAID systems. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, which means that is is redundantly backing up your files by mirroring what you already have on multiple disks. The RAID system I use is Drobo 5N. I love having a bay system that I can interchange disks if I need more storage I can just upgrade the disk, or pop in another disk cartridge into the bay slot. Drobo also keeps me up to date on the health of my drives, and I can know by the color of the light if I am also running out of space. The reason why I use the 5N, is because it is like having a mini-server that all my devices can access. So no matter if I am working on my laptop in my office or in the studio I can wirelessly locate a random file I might need for a client or marketing material. They have cheaper options that just stays plugged into a main computer and does not give you wireless access. You just need to see what would work best for you.
Cloud Storage - BLACKBLAZE
I use BLACKBLAZE as another backup precaution. No matter how savvy we can be with backing up our information hard drives are by no means fire resistant or water proof. So in the case of a flood, fire, or even theft – I use blackblaze to continuously back up my main computer, as well as all the drives plugged into it (Yes that includes my Drobo and external hard drives).
*Honorable mention* Online Gallery | Pixieset
Another backup, we sometimes ignore, if you are a photographer, are our online galleries. I personally enjoy using Pixieset, and usually, upload high-quality JPGS to that system. If you are looking for a great online gallery backup I actually recommend Smugmug because they give you great option storage for RAW files as well as video. However, I believe Pixieset works better for my branding and is a bit more user-friendly.
I'll be talking about backing up your photos for the everyday user my next tech-talk! In the meantime, you might enjoy looking at some past tech-talk blog posts.