How I backup my digital photos
A couple friends of mine have asked how I protect my most valuable digital possessions, the 1000+ pictures of my daughter.
Over the last 9 months we’ve amassed 1000′s of photos. I quickly realized that if my computer hard drive failed (and some day it will), I would lose every single one of those memories. I’m going to share with you what I think is my full proof plan to backing up my digital photos (and any other files or data you need to backup).
Let’s face it, the hard drive in your computer will fail. It’s not a matter of “if”, no it’s a matter of “when”. You have a couple solutions.
- Do nothing.
- Backup your data to an external hard drive.
- Backup your data to the cloud.
Doing nothing is not really an option. Backing up to an external hard drive is a great start. Actually it’s better than what most people will do. In this setup, you really need to have a plan to automatically backup your data. Most external hard drives come with software that periodically checks to see if any new pictures or files need to be sent to the external drive. Here’s a great tutorial on how to setup something like this if your external drive doesn’t have automated backup software.
I like the idea of backing up to the cloud, or an Internet-based storage site. I have a few reasons for this.
- I would still worry that my external hard drive would fail the same time my computer hard drive fails. Yes, I know the likelihood of this happening, but still… it could happen.
- By storing my data in the cloud, I’m NOT storing it at home. I don’t have to worry about my computer and my backup hard drive being stolen or lost to fire or flood. Yes, I’m paranoid.
My choice for an Internet-based backup service is Crashplan.com. I pay $60 for a year of unlimited, automated data backup. Crashplan provides you with an application that identifies the folders you want to backup. Their software will then start sending your data, completely encrypted, to their servers for storage. Whenever you add or change any of your files, Crashplan will upload only those files that have changed. Your data is perfectly in sync.
There are other similar services provided by Dropbox.com, Mozy.com, and Carbonite.com. They vary in price and platform support. Some will only work with Windows, but not support Mac or Linux. Crashplan supports all three platforms.
Crashplan is how I backup data on my desktop PC. BUT, my wife uses our laptop to do all her surfing, emailing, facebook’ing and picture gathering. Here’s a diagram of my home network:
How do I deal with pictures on the laptop but not on the desktop? I like to keep everything stored and managed from the same place. And I prefer that to be the desktop PC. The answer, “rsync”.
rsync allows you to synchronize your data and files between two different computers on your home network. No more copy/paste-ing folders from one computer to the other. I used to have multiple folders with the same pictures in them, but different dates in the names of the folder… like “November-2010-camera-backup” and “October-2010-camera-backup”. More than likely the November folder had 90% of the same pictures that the October folder did. A great howto on setting up your own rsync configuration can be found HERE.
So now with rsync, every half hour a simple script sends the changed or modified files to my desktop computer. (I even have it set up so that it will sync with my home desktop computer no matter where I’m at in the world, but that’s for another post.) Crashplan then backs up those files to their service.
So that’s about it. It was pretty long winded, but hopefully this gives you some inspiration and possibly motivation to do it yourself.