Protecting Your Data with a Good Backup Plan

As I sit here writing this, Hurricane Sandy is bending trees over in my backyard and the rain is pounding against the siding of my house. It’s a pretty big storm and it made me think about my back-up drives. I do regular back-ups and store all my images in raid drives but what would happen to my system if say I had some flooding or, heaven forbid, one of my oak trees suddenly decided to give me a new skylight and in comes the rain. Having the back-ups is great but only if they don’t get damaged. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a back-up of your back-up.

For massive amounts of data, you might want to consider using a cloud-based service that let’s you slowly back up your data and keep it safe. The only problem I see with these services is the price. Most of the ones I have looked at have pricing that runs about $60 per 100GB of data. I don’t know about you but I easily have a couple of terabytes so that could get expensive.

So, the best thing I can come up with are the large 1 and 2 TB drives (like the Western Digital MyBook series) that can be backed up to and then taken to a different location (like a relatives home) for storage. Of course you will need to retrieve them every now and then and update your info but it might just be worth the peace of mind for the trouble. 

One more solution that I just started using is a small back-up drive that is a complete back-up of my MacBookPro Retina. I have a Seagate Backup Plus for Mac that I use as a secondary Time Machine Backup. I can’t store all of my images on it but I can certainly back up my computer storage and have it handy if I need to do a restore. For a little extra assurance, I seal the drive using a simple vacuum food seal system. This is a very easy way of keeping the drive water tight and sealed for future use. Then, I can just open it and back it up periodically and re-seal it against rain, dust, and anything else I might encounter, like say a hurricane. 

Food sealing systems can be pretty affordable. FoodSaver makes one that you can buy for about $75 (from Amazon). You can then use the bags or sleeves to seal your drives and a whole bunch of other stuff that you want to keep safe and dry. So not only can you keep those hotdogs nice and fresh, you can also store your backup drives and other important goodies and keep them safe from water damage (think photographs and important documents).

The bottom line with any data storage is to -

  • A) Plan ahead – having a well planned back-up plan will help keep you organized and be more consistent.
  • B) Think Off Site – a data back-up does you no good if it’s in the same location as the originals. Try and come up with a solution that helps keep copies in some other location, be it cloud, office, or with family.
  • C) Have a back-up of your computer’s operating drive – restoring your system will go much faster if you keep a clone drive using something like Time Capsule and then protect that drive by using a food sealing system or a ziplock bag.
  • D) Don’t wait – addressing your storage back-up plan is something you should do now, not when the hurricane winds are blowing against your shutters.

Remember that no one plans on having catastrophic damage to their home and possessions but you can plan for how you are going to protect your images.

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  • http://www.aucklandeventphotographer.co.nz auckland event photographer

    I learnt the hard way. I have 3 copies of each photo I take. Two on site and one off site. Now I have this all set up I bet I will never need it. Once I stop backing up… I am sure I will regret it.

  • Arthur Agin

    Jeff,

    Another idea is to use a service like Cubby to sync your data. It’s like Dropbox but adds the ability to sync directly between computers, not just in the cloud. Data not in the cloud does not count against your limit so massive data doesn’t add cost. It also syncs outside the home so if you setup a small server elsewhere it can also have a continuously synched backup. Cubby is still in beta from LogMeIn.

    I currently use it to sync my laptop to my server as a continuous backup. And to sync some files between home and work.

    Art

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  • Emerg Planner

    If losing your files affects your income in a significant way your backups should be located in a different geographic area/hazard zone. One disaster should not potentially be able to affect both your main storage and your remote backup. Your backups should be located in a different hurricane zone, different earthquake zone, different major watershed.

    Since you’re located in the U.S. Northeast your backups should be in the Southeast (good), Midwest (better), Northwest (best), or Southwest (best) (based on your location).

    A Mac Mini with an external drive or two set up at a relatives house in one of those areas and remotely administered would work, and would be relatively inexpensive compared to the potential income loss.

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