Happy New Year! Now backup your files.

Every photographer needs to have a good strategy for storing and backing up their images. I’ve discussed this in an earlier post called Image Archiving Workflow. If you haven’t developed your own strategy, remember that the longer you wait, the more risk you create and the more difficult your task will be.  I thought I would revisit this issue with an emphasis on hardware.

Iomega StorCenter and Iomega UltraMax Pro

The Iomega StorCenter, left and the Iomega UltraMax Pro are ideal for backing up your photo library.

I needed to revisit this issue myself when I decided that my current hardware setup was not going to be adequate in the future.  My previous method of backing up was to copy one set of my photos to an external hard drive stored in a MacGuru Burly Port Multiplier. Another set was copied to DVDs and a third set copied to an external hard drive stored at a friend’s house.  Another level of security for me has always been to have so many memory cards that I was able to leave recently used memory cards unformatted until needed.  This allowed me to have a fourth place where my images were stored, at least for a couple of weeks.

This method worked well for me for years but there were a couple of issues starting to emerge. One thing I noticed was that burning DVDs was taking too much time. An average assignment could might produce anywhere between 4 and 20 gigabytes of image files to backup.  That’s not a problem with a speedy hard drive but burning 20 gigabytes of data to a single-sided DVD could take an hour or more.  Another issue was that my image library was not accessible to me when I was not in my office.

I looked into solutions for these problems and think I may have found the answer by combining the Iomega StorCenter and the Iomega UltraMax Pro.  Both of these units have 4 terabytes of storage but they are completely different products.  I chose the UltraMax Pro because it offered 4 terabytes and a choice of connecting via USB2, Firewire, Firewire 800 or eSATA.  The StorCenter is a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device which connects to your home network and the internet.  This allows me to access the device from any computer in my office and remotely when I’m traveling.  I found the setup to be extremely easy with much less hassle than other NAS devices I have used.

So now I’ll have one set of images stored on the StorCenter, one set on the UltraMax and one set stored on a hard drive off-site.  One additional step I will be exploring in the coming months is to store my assignment selects with PhotoShelter.  This will allow me to offer images for licensing and download for my clients.

If you care about your photos you should have them stored in at least three places, with one of those places being off-site.

All of us at Michael Schwarz Photography wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011.

Michael A. Schwarz is a commercial and editorial photographer, digital photography consultant and photo workshop leader based in Atlanta, Georgia.
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