How to properly back up your photographs

How to properly back up your photographs

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How to properly back up your photographs


Backing up memory cards, photos and well just about anything digital is a MUST for anyone!  

If you have ever been victim to a virus or computer failure you know that there is nothing more upsetting than losing valuable photos, templates you purchased and office files.  

Even though we know it can happen, we generally get lazy and skip the normal maintenance of backing up.  

Ask yourself this:

When was the last time you backed up your website?  If the answer is not this week, DO IT NOW!

When was the last time you backed up your office files, such as accounting and contracts?  If the answer is not since the last time you updated the files, DO IT NOW!

When was the last time you backed up your session images?  If the answer is not since the last time you finished editing a session, DO IT NOW!

The moral to this story?  Back up everything, all the time.  

Its part of your job as CEO of your company to ensure that you are safe!  When your computer fails you lose!  You lose the time you spent, you lose the trust of your client and you lose valuable information you may need to pay the tax man!

Now enough with the blanket “back-up” speech. Let’s get to the memory cards.  I am often asked “How Do You Back-up Your Sessions”.  Easy answer, redundancy.

In camera backup.

If you have two slots in your camera, lucky you!  Use them!  The idea of being able to back-up while shooting is fantastic!  Put slot B on back-up mode today.  

Tip:  Label your disks #1 & #2 - all your #1 disks are the slot "A", the original files, and all the #2 disks are slot "B", the backup files.  

This way you know to NEVER format your #2 backup disks until you have finished backing up and securing the goods. .


When you are done with a shoot your job is NOT over!

You're not finished on session day until you secure at least ONE extra copy of every thing you did.  

I know you're tired from all the running around, but this step is crucial!  

Plug your camera into your computer - yes I said it, do not take the disk out of your camera to do the first back-up!  Pulling the disk out of your camera and pushing it into a transfer type of device can ruin a memory card before you ever get the data off.

Again, I can't stress enough, plug the camera into your computer and back up all the files onto your working computer. .


Have a second back-up method ready.

This can be in the form of an external hard drive, I use a Time Capsule by Apple, but any good brand will work.  

Tip:  I do not ever erase this external drive.  Once it is full it goes into archive and I buy another.  If you are spending $100-$200 a year on a device to store photos its well worth the security. .


Of course, even external hard drives fail so how do you protect yourself?

Well the third place of back-up is on a cloud.  You know, that space in the world that none of us really know the location of.  

There are many data backup service companies and what a great way to ensure that you are protected. .


Ok, Its time to edit.  Now what?

Use the photos on your computer, the first back-up, to edit.  When you are finished editing you need to go to your external hard drive and the cloud to place the edited files on there as well.  

You will want to keep your originals so that at a later date if you need to adjust you can.


Should I keep the original back-up on my computer when I am finished with a session?

No, its not necessary to cram your hard drive with a ton of images.  They are large files and can bog you down.  Once you have edited, backed up on an external drive and a cloud you can remove them from your computer.  

When doing so you are taking the third back-up away.  If you feel comfortable with this then continue, if not place the photos onto a thumb drive and store.  Its not the most reliable but can give you added security.

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  • Great blog post! My fiance is a computer genius, he built my computer for me, and we have two external hard-drives for backup. This was some great tips though, thank you!

    Mallory on
  • What type of external harddrive do you use? Any suggestions on what to buy?

    Rachael on
  • Thank you for this good information. on
  • Thank you so much :)

    Staciejensen on

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