Storing and Backing up Digital Images

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If you are a keen digital PhotoGrapher one of the never ending challenges is how do I save and store images firstly when I am out taking pictures, at an event or on holiday and then what do I do with them when I get home. For those of you shooting in RAW format you are probably already experiancing the storage issue but even for those of us taking our pictures as JPEG the what and where to store these images is becoming an issue.

Lets tackle the first point and thats Back Up and Storage when you don't have access to a computer.

This of course mainly happens on holiday and I will share a story with you from one of our customers. He went on a 3 week Safari and decided the best option for storage was to buy 4 x 4Gb CF cards so he would have enough space for all his pictures. His thought being he would be able to download them when he got back home. All went well until 1 of the 4 Cards corrupted and he lost all his pictures about 5 days worth of pictures. Under normal circumstances this would be annoying but even worse in that it was a once in a lifetime experiance and these images could and would never be re-captured. This is where prior to your trip you need to assess the value of importance of the images you are going to take and make safeguards to ensure you don't fall into the same trap.

Here is my advice on this subject. If the data you are shooting is key then you need to make a backup. It's relatively inexpensive especially when you consider the alternative of losing the data.

A PhotoBank is my number one choice. Simply put this is a portable hard drive with a Card Reader built in. It does not require any power as it runs from a battery. It also runs independently from the computer so you don't have to worry about taking a laptop on the trip. To make a back up copy of the card you simply insert it in the reader and press copy. All your images are downloaded and saved on the hard drive. You then simply put the PhotoBank back in your bag and carry on with the peace of mind of knowing you now have a back up should all go wrong with the card. Cost wise these are getting very low cost with a 40Gb unit costing under 50 pounds or in simple terms 80 pence per Gigabyte. There are of course more expensive models that allow you to view the images etc but for simple back up purposes you can't really go wrong with the basic model.

Once you get home you simply attach the PhotoBank your PC or Mac via your USB port and you can download all your images. Whats also very good about the PhotoBank is that when your not using it as a portable storage device it can double up as an extra hard drive for backing up data. Also it reacts as a card reader when attached to the PC so you are in fact getting 3 products in one very small box.

Trust me for 80 pence a Gigabyte when we all spend vast amounts of money paying for these wonderful holidays this is well worth the investment.

Now lets move to storing and backing up your images at home. Again one of my stories to explain my point. I recently got a phone call from a guy whose 400Gb External Drive had just stopped working. He was concerned he said as he had five years worth of photo's of the kids backed up on the drive. My reply was well no harm done, if this was your back up you simply need to get another drive and then copy the pictures back over from the original data. At this point things when quiet. I am not sure what you mean he said I backed up all the pictures off my computer and then erased them to create more space on my internal hard drive.

If you learn nothing from this guide but what I am about to say I will have done you a service. It's only a backup if you have another copy. If you don't then this is original data and by not making a copy you really are asking for trouble. Thankfully I managed to recover the data and copy it back onto another drive. Be aware though if you fall into this trap Data Recovery is very expensive and its not uncommon to see charges into the hundreds of pounds.

So the lesson is you must make copies or backups of your images so you have total protection. Bottom line things go wrong and break, its a fact of life. Hard Drives are also included in this and if you don't have the original data you lose all those memories or a hefty bill for data recovery.

For example I have say 50Gb of images on my hard drive. All very dear to me and its original data. I then have a choice in terms of back up.

1. Purchase an External Hard Drive and copy all your images onto it for Back Up purposes. Desktop Drives are the most cost effective and a 250Gb would cost you around 45 pounds or approx 18 pence per Gigabyte.

2. If however you want to free up your internal hard drive space then please be aware if you make a copy to your external and delete the content on your hard drive you have simply moved the problem from one drive to another. In this instance I would suggest the following.

Buy two drives. One to keep the original data on and one to have as your Master Back Up. There are a number of options on what type of storage ie 2.5 inch, Desktop, Network and I hope to write some advice on this in later guides but my preferred option would be to purchase a Portable 2.5 inch to keep my original data on and then a larger Desktop to use as a Master Back Up. A 60Gb portable costs around 30 pounds or 50 pence a Gigabyte.

If this is the route you want to take then purchase a 2.5 inch Portable to keep the original Data on and 250Gb and upwards as your Master Storage drive. Remember also what I said about PhotoBank. This could act as Back up drive and a Portable Storage Solution. STOP thinking this is too expensive and it won't happen to me and imagine what would happen if you lost all your data.

I hope you have found this guide useful. Apologies to those that think I am preaching but suffice to say I have spent 20 years talking to people who have not taken this type of action and lost lots of memories.


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