Backup of my photographic data - my final solution now in place and working nicely

Today I am going to talk about backing up my profesional photography data.

Nothing else. Sorry no nice new portfolio image today.

I wanted to update you all on my final data management solution. Why now? 

Because it is finally sorted to the point that I am happy with my solution, and also happy to write about it now that it is all set up and in place. 

This is how I manage my data. 

I have one Lightroom catalogue which has all my images in one place. The Lightroom catalogue is on my laptop.  My laptop has a 1TB drive. This drive is now only half full.

The actual image files are on a separate Western Digital 4 TB external hard drive. 

I have another external hard drive which has a copy of the Lightroom Catalogue and also a copy of the actual image files, which is stored in another location. 

I also have cloud backup in place for all files on my laptop and external drive using Backblaze. This took a while to do the first upload but was incredibly easy to do. I am paying $5 per month for unlimited storage. 

Fantastic. Thank you Backblaze.

So that is the nuts and bolts of it. All my data is in three separate locations. 

Thats fine for today. But what about tomorrow/ next week/ next year? 

That is sorted too. 

It has taken me a long time to get to this happy secure state. One reason it took so long is that I wanted a setup that would work going forward, and which was also expandable.

And I also need to be able to use my laptop out of my office, and have access to all my images. 

So lots to consider. 

And then the inevitable happened. 

My laptop hard drive was nearly full and my laptop was falling over.

Just because it says 1TB on the box don't expect to get anything near 1TB on the hard drive. Nowhere near.

And when you do get near to being full the hard drive just slows down to a virtual halt. Combine that with the recent performance problems with Lightroom and you may experience significant problems. 

And of course this all happened when I had the most commercial shoots at the same time ever!! 

The quick, short term solution was to split my catalogues to get over the original problem, moving a big part of my collection onto an external hard drive.  I was never happy having my data in two catalogues. And this solution did not last long. It was the sticking plaster on the broken leg solution! The laptop hard drive soon filled up again.

So serious issues to contend with, and quickly. 

Which is why a lot of thinking has gone into the set up described above.

The benefits of this arrangement are as follows. 

  • I can access all the images in my catalogue from anywhere as I have built Smart Previews in Lightroom. 
  • I can expand my backup copy by buying a larger external hard drive. 
  • Every month I will take another backup copy, rotating my 1TB hard drives. 
  • The external drive which has my actual image files is 4 TB. Plenty of spare capacity. 
  • My cloud backup is incremental and unlimited, and pretty much looks after itself.
  • if everything goes wrong in my office, and I lose the other offsite hard drive copy, I can get a full data recovery from Backblaze. 

So from all I have learnt from my extensive research including guidance from leading photographic industry experts, everything is now in place.

Significantly, this did not cost a lot to do either. You just need to think about what you want and how you are going to work in the future. if you are relying on a single hard drive as I was I can assure you that you will at some point run out of space, so act now before you have a problem.