Time to Make the Backups

Setting up drives and making a backup schedule is about as much fun as, well I’m not sure, something pretty dreadful to be sure, but it’s necessary and you can make it extremely easy with the right hardware and software combination. There are really two ways to go about getting your backup in place, you can go the cheaper but slightly more manual way of using two separate hard drives, or you can go the slightly more modern but more expensive way of using a single unit with dual drives in a Raid 0 configuration.

Personally, I recommend getting two Western Digital My Book drives of at least 500GB and a program like SyncBackSE to copy files between the two of them. I like external drives since most computers you buy today don’t have the space inside to accommodate multiple drives. In many cases you get slots for two drives and that’s it. The way my system gets configured is one large drive is the boot drive and a second large drive for additional storage. I still need two additional drives for my photos and since they can’t go inside the case I get the external ones. They are very easy to setup and install.

500GB drives are running about $90 these days and 1TB drives can be found for around $120. It’s hard to say no to so much storage for so little money. If you shoot thousands of photos a month and in RAW format the 1TB size is probably where you should start and 2TB maybe a better choice. Just as a reference point, I have filled up about half of the 500GB drive with my pictures so far.

So you have two drives, now what? To make this process work you need to get a sync program like SyncBackSE, SecondCopy or GoodSync. These programs make it very easy to copy files from one drive to another without having to copy every file each time. When I download pictures from my camera I put them all on the primary external drive. I then go through to see which files should just be deleted due to blurriness, bad lighting or other factors. Once that’s done I run the sync program and all the new files are copied over to the second drive. It also goes through the rest of the disk to make sure I haven’t missed any.

You could skip the sync altogether and just copy the folders between the two drives, but I prefer the sync so I can exclude files I’m working on or the images I’ve modified in DxO.

If you want to get more fancy you can get a setup like the 4TB My Book with two drives already inside it that automatically copies files from one drive to the other. The drives mirror each other so what’s on disk 1 is created on disk 2 at the same time. Hardware does all the work to make sure the data is backed up and considering both drives are within an external enclosure all you need to do is plug it in and you’re ready to go.

The Raid setup is much more hands free, but getting two 500GB or 1TB drives on sales is a lot more likely, in fact they’re on sale for Father’s Day. But either way it’s a worthwhile investment and while it may seem like a big budget operation – $250 – you have 10x that invested in your camera and lenses. Losing years worth of photos could bring you to the point of tears and no one wants to see that.

Yeah it’s really that simple, so now is a good time to get some extra space and make sure you’re pictures are protected.

If you want to read more about backing up and syncing files, check out this article:

The holiday backup strategy

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