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The Backup Plan

The Backup Plan

Jul 29, 2023

Most of the blogs I write are usually what inspires me to turn the ideas into youtube videos, but this week’s video and subsequently this blog post was inspired by a specific event. In short; I messed up. And messed up BIG time.

Backups of data are important. We live in a data driven world so this really applies to everyone and not just photographers. But photographers… PLEASE please please back up your work. You seriously will regret it if you don’t. And listen, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to create a comprehensive backup solution and strategy. In fact, depending on the size of your gallery/data collection you may not need more than a couple of portable hard drives, maybe a NAS and you are good to go. In this blog I’ll give you a few more insights into my backup solution, but also some relatively inexpensive options to make sure that you have your work saved and preserved properly.

But first, story time. I have mentioned it a few times, but I have been “into” photography most of my life and have a fairly sizable collection of photos and raw files that I hold onto. So yeah, I am a pack rat a little with my digital assets. Don’t judge. So I have been working on upgrading my home NAS (Network Attached Storage) and was moving some things around to prepare for that upgrade. This is where the mistake, and a discovery came into play. I copied a bunch of older finished photos to my computer, or so I thought. I had been working on some throwback photos and posts so I wanted to work with the files locally. What I didn’t realize was that copy was actually a “MOVE” and I pulled the files off the NAS and put them on my computer. My NAS very dutifully did a sync to my personal cloud backup solution. And by sync, both storage devices would match each other. Which means when I put a file on one NAS, it would copy over to the other. But if I deleted a file… it also deleted it on the other NAS. I was unaware that this is how my sync worked. Bad geek. 

So now, you are probably thinking “you have the files on your computer, just copy them back” and that is a very valid point. Except when I was done working on what I wanted to do for the throwback posts, I deleted the folder thinking I had it on the NAS still. Nope.

5 years of finished photos are gone... 

Now, all hope is not lost, because I still have the RAW files and the associated XMP files, so all of my basic adjustments are there. I can recreate the finished files if I need to at any point. But, I have since changed my backup routine from a sync where everything matches, to a one way copy. I have tested this over and over again and am pretty happy and confident that I should be better going forward.

So as you can see, this event really put into perspective how important it is to have backups of your data and making sure that you have those backups available to you. That is where the 3-2-1 backup strategy comes into play. Make sure you watch the video (embedded below) for how the strategy works, because this is how I manage my photos and personal data.

The way I (now) implement this strategy is fairly straight forward, but being that I am a tech guy and a network engineer I have gone to the extreme. You are more than welcome to follow along with that, I will have some links for my setup in case you want to mirror it, but I will include a couple of links for less expensive options as well.

So now, my photos get saved to a NAS on my home network. I use a Synology RS822+ which has 4 bays for hard drives and mounts in a network rack. Hanging off that NAS is an external hard drive that acts as a second copy of my data at home. From there, I have a second Synology NAS (RS422) that I have “hosted” with another techy friend of mine that is connected by a VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel between them. The main NAS automatically copies whatever files I put in my photography folder structure onto the external hard drive and uploads to the second NAS in my “cloud” solution. This is a VERY overdone setup, I know. But I save a lot of other data other than photography there as well.

Now, options for how you can do this and not be a technological psychopath like me is pretty straightforward. Or be one, join me in that kind of crazy if you like; I like the company. But one of the things you can and should do is have a portable or external hard drive that you can save a copy of your files on. One that I use is the LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive (link). It is nice for on the run, and keeping things secure when I am traveling. From there you can get yourself a small home NAS like the Buffalo Linkstation 210 (link) or Synology Diskstation DS218+ (link). Then it is just a matter of deciding how to do an off-site backup. I haven’t looked into these for a while, but Synology has a nice cloud backup solution that works directly with their gear. But there are also options like Backblaze, or iDrive that are pretty reasonable and feature rich. You can also utilize things like Dropbox, Google Drive or Onedrive if you already have one of those services. You may just have to pay extra for a lot more space. 

As you can see, backups are important and with a simple mistake you can create a lot of regret like I did. I would definitely suggest taking a look at how you manage and backup your photography, and make some adjustments if you need. If you have any questions, need help or ideas, feel free to reach out. My DMs on socials are always open, and my contact form on my website goes right to my e-mail. The links I have posted in this blog are through my Amazon Associates account, so if you do purchase anything from those links I do make a small commission from them. Helps me support my work, website, and such so it is greatly appreciated. I just want to make sure I am transparent about that.

Thank you very much for reading, seeing, watching and supporting my work. I really appreciate everyone who is following me in this journey! Take care!

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