|Golden Corridor, Almost Lost|
You have heard it many times before, but it can never be repeated too often. Back up your work! This week I will describe how I have attempted to back up my photographs, not as an example of best practice, but as a cautionary tale about what can go disastrously wrong and how dumb luck saved me.
Several weeks ago I received an order for a copy of one of my favorite recent images. I had printed this image before so I knew that the file was in my edited images directory, ready to print. I found the file, but when I attempted to open it in Photoshop the computer whired for long minutes and then froze. My heart sank as the same thing happen on every file I tried to open from this directory. Nothing worked, and I realized that I had lost thousands of hours of work on more than 4000 of my best images, collected over more than a decade.
During over ten years of more serious New England photography
Tiers of Redundancy
Save the Drobos First
The first measure was to improve the reliability of the storage.
My current backup workflow starts with translating my camera's Canon proprietary raw files to Adobe’s open source DNG format. I like DNG format since it is nonproprietary and because the image meta data is stored within the image file and not on those annoying sidecar XMP files. I use the DNGs for editing and archiving, but before I do anything else, I save the original Canon raw files to a separate drive as a backup. As I work on my edited files, they are stored in a separate drive as well. This leaves me with two copies of all of my raw images, but only one full copy of my finished, edited images. I figured that if I lost my edited images, I would still have the original raw files. I didn’t allow myself to think about the potential loss of my massive investment in photo editing. Stupid! And deep down I knew it.
I also knew that a fire, flood or tornado could still wipe out all of
|partridgebrookreflections.com : archive|
of good “cloud based” services (eg Back Blaze, Carbonite and Crash Plan) available to archive my files, but given my massive amount of data, it would take months to upload all my images over the Internet. I thought that If I could backup my current archive, I could then consider using a automatic cloud solution for my future work. In the meantime, I have started backing up my new, full resolution, edited images to my new Zenfolio Website.
I eventually decided to start by creating my own off-site backup
|Bob's Closet Archive|
Just two weeks later, as if it knew it was safe to retire, my edited
image drive failed. Suddenly I could see the images in the directory but, despite all efforts at repair, I couldn’t get them to open. If I had not created that backup drive I would have lost years of work on all my most popular images. I still had all the original RAW files, but
|4000 files, 21 hours, priceless|
- Every machine fails eventually, and that includes the best hard drive or array of drives.
- Images stored only on one drive will eventually be lost.
- Memory is cheap and getting cheaper all the time.
- An image does not exist until it is in two places, preferably three, with one off site.
- An automatic solution is better than one that requires regular thought.
- Regular thought NEVER happens.
My backup strategy is not perfect. I'm still working on the cloud solution, and the automation of my backup process, but the important thing is to have a plan and follow through. Many of you must have better solutions, but for those who haven't established a redundant backup plan, do it today. It takes time, but no amount of time or effort can retrieve your precious lost images. You can't always rely on dumb luck.
Oh, and the correct order is 1) Drobos, 2) Dog, 3) iPad and then 4) Wife.