© Copyright Robert Romero
You know you should backup your photos and data on a regular basis, but some people — and maybe that’s you — don’t backup. Maybe you don’t know how, or you just don’t have the time or can’t make the time for backups. In either case, backups are really important because they will save you time and emotional distress in the future when — not if — you lose your photos and data.
See The Tao of Backup for an entertaining but serious perspective on why backups are important.
Backing up data needs to be easy or it won’t get done. I explain below the “why, when, what, how, who, and where” of backing up photos, and I think you’ll find that my photo backup process is easy and quick. In a future article, I’ll explain how to backup all of your data easily.
Why: Sooner or later you’re going to lose at least one copy of your photos, whether due to your computer’s hard drive failing, or a worse catastrophe. If you have multiple backups in multiple locations, you can get copies of your photos without spending a lot of time or pain.
When: As soon as your photos are copied to your computer, you should start making backup copies. Okay, you’ll probably want to take a quick look on your computer screen at the beautiful photos you just shot, but you shouldn’t spend a lot of time on it, and you definitely shouldn’t start editing photos. As soon as possible after you’ve shot your photos, copy all of the photos to your computer. At this point, you have two copies of the photos: one copy on your memory cards and one copy on your computer. Don’t erase the memory cards yet.
What: Make multiple backup copies of your photos onto recordable DVD discs, such as the DVD-R format. DVDs are very inexpensive, and you should make copies of your photos onto at least 3 DVD discs. The more copies of DVDs you make, the better.
Remember, your photos are irreplaceable. While you can go back to the same location and get the same people back together again to shoot the photos again, it definitely won’t be the same. The lighting will be different, the scene will be different, and everyone’s moods will be different.
Make multiple copies of those photos and don’t lose them. As I explained in a previous article in the Photobird Daily about why you should never delete any photos, even if you don’t like the photos now, you might come back to them in the future and like them better.
How: If your computer doesn’t have a drive that writes DVD discs, then get one. They’re very inexpensive, and you need one to backup your photos. Even if you only have a drive that writes CD discs, buy one that writes DVDs. They’re very inexpensive; the external drives are only about $60. Internal drives are about $30. The reason I recommend DVD over CD is that CDs can only store about 700MB of data, and most memory cards sold today can store gigabytes. If you shoot gigabytes of photos, you’re going to need to split up the photos across multiple CDs, and it’s going to be a challenge for you, it’s not going to be easy, and you’ll loathe backing up your data, which you don’t want to do. DVD burners are cheap. Buy one.
DVD drives that can write to the discs are called “DVD burners” because they “burn” the data to the disc. They can also read DVDs and read and write (“burn”) CDs too.
- Many Macs have DVD burners. If yours doesn’t, you can buy an external one. Just make sure you have a USB 2.0 port on your Mac. Recent versions of Mac OS X will burn DVDs, so you don’t need extra software.
- Windows Vista will burn DVDs, so you don’t need extra software, just the DVD burner.
- Windows XP doesn’t have the native functionality to burn DVDs, but there’s free software called BurnAware Free that will burn DVDs. I haven’t used the software, but it looks pretty good and easy to use, and has received good reviews. Here’s their website where you can download the program.
After copies of your photos have been made, I strongly recommend attempting to access the photos on the DVDs, as a test, just to make sure that everything worked properly and as you expected. Of course, you don’t want to think you backed up your photos, only to try to retrieve your backups later to find out that there was a problem with the way you were backing up your photos.
Who: You can shop on Amazon.com for DVD burners and DVD discs, but even though Photobird gets a referral fee when you buy something on Amazon.com, I prefer other online vendors for DVD burners and discs.
Shop at Newegg.com for DVD burners. Just go to their website and read the reviews for each drive you’re interested in. Newegg customers are very knowledgeable and discerning, so you can trust their customer reviews. And Newegg is an excellent vendor to do business with.
Shop at Supermediastore.com for DVD discs and buy premium Taiyo Yuden discs. You may have never heard of Taiyo Yuden before, but it’s a very popular brand with DVD enthusiasts. Other brands are often recommended as being high quality, such as Verbatim, but after reading the discussions, I spend my money on Taiyo Yuden and I buy them at Supermediastore.com. You can read some of the discussions below; I simply did a Google search on “best dvdr“, but I’ve already had great experiences with Taiyo Yuden and Supermediastore.com.
Where: After you’ve made your multiple copies of your photos, store at least one copy in a safe place at home such as in your safe, at least one copy in another building such as a friend’s or family member’s house or your workplace, and you can store the third copy near your computer for easy access.
After you’re done editing and organizing your photos, I recommend making three more copies of the new set of photos. And if you have room on your DVDs, you can include the original set of photos with these new copies. So when you’re done, you’ll have 6 copies of your original photos, and 3 copies of your edited photos.
And hopefully nothing catastrophic will happen, and you’ll never need to access any of those copies. But if something does happen, you’ll feel at ease because you know you’ll have plenty of copies of your photos.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or in the forums. I want to make sure you are able to easily make backup copies of your photos. It’s very important. After all, I wouldn’t want you to lose your award-winning photos, such as Robert Romero’s “Just Peachy” shown above.