While I don't shoot a ton of images daily right now I am making several thousand photos a year that I want to keep safe from the point of capture through to working with them and then saving them to long term backups. These processes; and no doubt the hardware, will change over time.
As of January 2016, this is the process I'm using
- Carry a card reader to offload cards to your computer.
- Keep them dry and safe with a hard sided, waterproof memory card case.
- Keep a spare card or two in your gear bag.
- Always copy pictures from cards immediately after you finish shooting. Copy to internal, external and cloud if you can. If you can't do all three, always make at least two copies of the original images.
External Hard Drives
- How much capacity do you expect to need and how do you access it? Shooting only RAW my files are between 15mb to 30mb per image. At around 20,000 images a year I fill up nearly 1TB of storage a year.
- You may need a drive with extra space if you'll be using it for working files since you'll have extra copies of the images; some maybe with extra layers.
Long Term File Storage
- ** Great for redundant backups but not so great for working files because it takes longer to access files over the network
- Cloud Storage via dropbox, amazon, others
- Good long term offsite redundant storage that is safe from home disasters.
- It’s somebody else’s computer meaning they control the terms by which you access it and the potential for having your property hacked and stolen may be minimal but it does exist.
Actually doing the backups
- Set a schedule and make it a habit. I do my full backups once a quarter, but honestly I run them whenever I have social and family business and won't be needing access to my working files for a couple of days.
- Backup your external drives plus any working files on your local machine.
** The big purchase I would love to make this year is something like a direct attached Thunderbolt raid box. This would give me a box that I could run scheduled backups to and it's attached to my main computer. It would essentially be my working files plus long term onsite backup. The reason I haven't done this yet is simply a matter of available cash. You can purchase an inexpensive enclosure and use your existing drives of course. In my experience with those you generally get what you pay for in terms of hardware headaches and even lost data. Sooo...I'm waiting for the right time to purchase a good one like this G-Technology Thunderbolt 4 drive Raid. Maybe I'll get me one for my birthday.
If you're just getting started then go with something that is attached directly to the computer you'll be working on, has RAID backup, and has the fastest connection type available to your computer which in my case happens to be Thunderbolt 2.