Indy Photo Coach 7:26pm, 18 February 2009
Many times watching a news story about someone narrowly escaping a house fire, the person is asked what they were able to save and their reply is often "photographs" -- because (other than family and pets) "they're the only thing that can't be replaced." I'm always astonished that anyone could have the clarity of mind to do anything in that situation other than jump out the nearest window, but I'm even more astonished these days when I hear about people losing photos because of something as common as a hard drive failure.

The statistics regarding computer hard drive failures vary from 2% - 13% depending on who you ask (I think it's closer to the latter) and that's only covering hard drives that fail before expected, ultimately all hard drives are expected to fail. I personally have lost 3 in the last 5 years. 2 of those were within the last year and while I can't offer any evidence, it seems that as drives get bigger this happens more frequently and laptop hard drives seem to last about half as long as a desktop hard drive.

Working a data backup routine into your everyday computer tasks is something everyone should do, but especially photographers. Fortunately there are a slew of options out there but I'll only mention a couple of the larger companies offering such services as I have seen some companies in this arena go out of business in the last few years (e.g. Xdrive).

Mozy Home

Cost: Free for 2GB of Storage ($4.95/mo Unlimited) With Mozy you install a small program that runs in the background. You tell it which folders it should backup and it will periodically perform "incremental backups" -- meaning once you've transferred those files the first time, it will only look in those folders for files that are new or have changed after that first full backup.


Cost: Free Unlimited Storage (for non-commercial use).CrashPlan operates similarly to Mozy, running a small program that automatically stores your data on their servers.

If storing your data at some anonymous location makes you nervous then you should at least keep copies of your files in a place other than your main computer. Microsoft's free Sync Toy is very useful for this. It performs much like the previously mentioned programs but only backups to another computer on your local network or an external hard drive.

One other thing to note is that you may still be able to get your files off of a hard drive that suffered a mechanical failure. It's expensive, ranging between $500 - $1000, but if you lost your wedding pictures it's more than worth it. How that is accomplished is you mail your hard drive to a data recovery company and they disassemble the drive in a "clean room" and extract your data.

Hopefully I accomplished my goal of keeping this as straightforward as possible but if you still have questions here are a couple more places to help you get a handle on this subject:

    NetWork World: Backup 101

    HowStuffWorks: Backup 101 (video)

gap_sas_sanders 9 years ago also has a great system for protecting your images offsite. When I signed up they had a 4.99 / month account that lets you protect 100GB or more each month.
Bernie Kasper (3.5 million views) PRO Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Bernie Kasper (3.5 million views) (member) 9 years ago

They saved my rear, I believe it is unlimited for 50.00 a year !
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