Call me paranoid

After listening to Martin Bailey‘s latest podcast (#293) and recent discussions with a couple of people, I thought I’d document my backup strategy/workflow. (I think I’ve done this before but that’s bound to be before I completed my move to the MacBook Pro.)

  1. Camera to MBP
    The first step is to copy the new photos from my camera’s compact flash (CF) card onto my MacBook Pro. I used to simply connect my camera to the MBP and then use Canon’s EOS Utility to download the new shots. I’ve heard that it’s more efficient to remove the CF card and use a reader, but when I’ve tried this it didn’t seem any different. However, once I updated to Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) EOS Utility stopped working; I emailed Canon and they’ve confirmed it’s incompatible and there’s no ETA for an update. So now I’m using a card reader and I discovered that kicks off Canon ImageBrowser Memory Card Utility; downloading just new photos is harder, but then I usually wipe the CF card after I’ve saved my shots (which we’ll get to eventually!) so this isn’t too much of a problem.

  2. MBP to NAS
    Once I do a file count to make sure I’ve copied everything of the CF card(s), I simply drag and drop the new folder onto my Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive – it’s a NetGear ReadyNAS NV+ with four Western Digital Caviar Green 2Tb drives configured as X-RAID. (While this is copying I put the CF card back in the camera but the photos are still on the card at this time. Oh, and my batteries are charging too.)

    Once I’ve checked that everything’s safely copied to the ReadyNAS, I turn on my camera and wipe the CF card(s).

    p.s. I have Time Machine running so the photos are also backed up that way, but that is also stored on my ReadyNAS NV+ so I don’t count that as an extra copy.

  3. NAS to PC
    I still have an old PC running Windows XP (as well as a couple of flavours of Linux) which I mostly use as an extra repository for my photos. It has a couple of large hard drives inside, one of which is just for backups. Once the photos are copied over the the NAS I kick off a SyncToy script to update the local copy. (This takes forever so I’m planning on removing older folders from the process as they haven’t changed in years.)

    p.s. I also kick off a SyncToy script to copy photos from the ReadyNAS to my old My Book World Edition NAS (two 1Tb drives in RAID-1 config); the MBWE has had issues in the past so I don’t rely on it, but in theory it’s an extra copy.

  4. PC to the cloud
    When the PC is logged in to Windows (which is only about half the time) it’s running Backblaze. This means any new/changed files on any of the internal drives are backed up to the cloud. We recently upgraded our internet connection, so we get a pretty fast connection even with Backblaze set to full speed.

  5. DVDs
    Once in a while I’ll burn a DVD (or these days it’s multiple DVDs) for each month’s photos. I burn them on the MBP then put them in the PC to verify that it’s working OK. Then I create a label using Epson Print CD (which came with my R280 printer), print the label on the DVD, put it in a sleeve and file it away. The pile of DVDs used to live offsite at work but I don’t currently have a permanent location so I need to find them a new home.

Another p.s.: I was talking about photos but I also backup my Lightroom catalogue to the ReadyNAS, then copy it to the PC and so it also gets backed up to Backblaze. All my other files on the MBP live in my Dropbox folder, which also syncs to the PC (and therefore Backblaze too).

Final p.s.: When I’m away from home, I have a 750Gb Western Digital My Passport Essential external drive; depending on connectivity, I’ll also copy the photos to the cloud. Either way I don’t wipe my CF cards until I get home and follow my usual procedure.

OK, it may well be overkill but for minimal effort (and a small ongoing cost) there’s virtually zero chance of me losing a photo. Now if only I could take something worth being so paranoid about! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Call me paranoid”

  1. I forgot one additional backup! I also synchronise the PC drive with an external drive (a bare 1Tb drive in a Vantec hard drive dock, aka the toaster!) using synctoy. I have a couple of bare drives, one of which should be offsite when the other is in the toaster.

  2. That’s funny – I’m listening to This Week in Photo (TWiP 213) and they’re talking about backups too 🙂

    I disagree with their assertion that backups to DVD are worthless; it’s a second medium, and diversity means I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. (I would agree *only* using DVDs isn’t a good idea!)

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