One is a very lonely number…especially if it is one copy of your files that you cannot access. One of anything of that sort is not sufficient; it will not protect you. One unusable copy will land you at the realization that you have not done enough at all. In fact, in the end, it will end up disappointing you a great deal. It happened to me; it can happen to you as well.
Today I would like to speak to a very blah topic – backing up your files. You can no longer be dense about this topic if you have files that are important to you. In this day and [electronic] age, backing up your files is not an option – IT IS A NECESSITY. Additionally, having one backup may not be adequate.
As a photographer, I have many files that are important to me. Every shot is a masterpiece…or not, but, still there is a great deal that a want to hang onto. I thought I had an OK system going. I could not have been more wrong. As a semi-IT-kind-of-person, I should know better…I did know better. As with everything, there are several ways to accomplish your goal; half-ass should not be a consideration among your option. How thorough you need depends on how important your data is to in general, for you business or whatever the case may be.
My file-flow was pretty simple. (1) Take pictures, (2) download them to my PC (3) process them, (5) Post them (6) file them and eventually (7) move them off to an external hard drive. That seemingly simple 7 step process worked fine until the one day I needed that information back. My PC was running like crap, I had not completely reloaded it is over 2 years (I like to at least once a year); so I pulled the pin. I set aside some time to get it done. It went smoothly. I don’t utilize an imaging process like I could as installing the OS and the few application I use is easy and quick enough (creating an image of my PC is phase 2 of getting my digital act together). When it came to restoring my data I was met with an immediate failure. My external drive was no longer recognized by my PC. I plugged it in and nothing. I had thought about backing up to the cloud, but had not made that leap. Yes, what a big giant stupid-head I was for not making that leap. There is a plethora of cloud-based affordable backup solutions out there. It is a pretty simple Google search to get you on your way to researching which service is best for your needs.
I have a fellow photographer and IT-savvy friend that helped me a great deal through this ordeal. He reminded me of the 3-2-1 rule (Thanks John!)
-  – You keep 3 copies of anything that is important to you (1 primary and two secondary).
-  – You keep the files on two different media types (Internal HD, external HD, Cloud, DVD’s, etc.).
-  – You keep 1 copy offsite (Home/Business, or in this example the cloud).
It is not so much a matter of “if,” but “when.” Device failure is a huge threat, as are viruses, malicious malware, volume and directory glitches, transfer corruption, lightning strikes/voltage surges, theft, fire or water damage and human error. A lot can go wrong. I believe my issue was part volume glitch, part transfer corruption and a titch of human error. In the end, I was able to attach my external drive to Cyndie’s MAC and transfer my files over the network (long story). I didn’t lose anything…this time. It was a clear wake up call to get my our digital affairs in order though. I can now comfortably say that we are now completely backed up and I am feeling that we have our digital “stuff” secure.
Even if you did not keep an on-site backup to an external drive (or other media), backing up to the cloud will provide a great amount of comfort compared to doing nothing all.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!