I have heard too many horror stories from fellow photographers who have lost all of their work. Sometimes shit happens and it can’t be avoided, BUT you can take some simple steps to back up your photos and avoid losing all of your hard work. This is my photo backup (and organization) process.
3-2-1 backup plan
The most popular photography backup plan is the “3-2-1 backup plan.” This plan involves keeping 3 backups, in 2 different formats with 1 location being outside of your home. I will be honest here and tell you I do not follow this plan exactly… I currently only have 2 backups of my photos and they are all kept in one location. Sort of. I will eventually get there though. Someday.
My #1 backup
My main backup is located on an external hard drive. While I do keep my most recent photos on my laptop while I am editing them, to avoid taking up all of my storage and to keep things running quickly and smoothly, I always dump them onto my external hard drive.
My external hard drive
I use a Lacie Rugged 1TB External Hard Drive I purchased from the Apple store about 5 years ago. (Wow, has it really been that long?) and thankfully I have yet to run out of space. Clearly I don’t take that many photos these days…
My second backup
My second photo backup is located in the cloud. As soon as I back up my photos to my Lacie I head on over to Dropbox and upload them. I should also note that I do not clear my memory card until I have successfully uploaded my photos to both my laptop, my external hard drive, and Dropbox.
I use Dropbox’s “Plus” plan which is $9.99 a month and gives you 2TB of storage, I can access it from anywhere on any device and it’s easy and secure.
They have several other plans with more and more features the more you pay, such as extended history recovery, watermarking, sharing features and more.
My photo backup process may not be as involved as others, but it is certainly better than having a single backup.
How I organize my photos
Last year I revamped the way I organize my photos. I had been dumping them into a folder entitled “photography” and if I felt ambitious, I would organize by year. Now I have my photos organized by year, month and location (or event). Then within that location/event folder, I have a final folder for edited images.