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Back Up Your Photos

Back Up your Photos: You should have a minimum two copies of everything, plus ideally a third copy off-site in the event of fire or theft.

The photos that appear here were shot by Wolfgang Kaehler, DPA instructor in Seattle. These beautiful and historical images are from a restored schoolhouse on the Tall Grass Prairie Nature Preserve in Kansas. Wolfgang has traveled extensively, to over 200 countries, and has an archive of over 500,000 images. That roughly translates to 320 images per week, for 30 years. And that 1/2 million images is just the selects, not counting the deleted images. You can be sure Wolfgang has multiple redundant back-up systems for his extensive photo library.


© Wolfgang Kaehler

Professional photographers are very particular about backing up their images. You only need to have one disastrous computer crash to teach you that. You also want to clear your laptop (or desktop) of images. One reason is it forces you to have a back up, but also for performance. The less on your laptop the faster the programs will run, the computer uses empty hard drive space as a scratch disk (processing space, like virtual memory). Also the hard drive on your laptop could crash permanently (happened to me 3 years ago). Your best bet is 3 copies of photos, one on a hard drive, one on a server and one off-site (a friend or relatives house), in case of fire or theft. In 25 years I have worked at 3 studios that burned up in fires, the photographers lost everything. I prefer Lacie drives, either 1TB or 500GB. I have 7 of them, never had problems with any. In theory hard drives do have a limited life span. Ive heard of them dying after 5 years, The oldest one I have is 8 Years.


Alternatively you can just upload to Flicker or Snapfish for free. If you back up on a server you don’t worry about the hard drive. If you don’t want to go the server route Id suggest 2 500GB drives and double back up, one of them should be stored off-site. If you have a recent Mac you can use Time Machine which backs up automatically and painlessly (I use it, its so easy I can forget about it). You can by a Lacie 500 GB drive for about $100. CDs and DVDs are useless as backups. They have a life span of 2 –5 years, in spite of the fact you probably have some music CDs that have been around for 10. Disks are only a temporary backup, or for delivering images to a client. Firewire is a faster upload than USB but if you don’t need the speed USB drives are less expensive. Check your Mac to see what type of Firewire connectivity you have. IE: Some 17inch Macbooks only have a FW800 port, which is faster than FW400 but not all Macs have Firewire 800. Another way to have an offsite back up of your favorites is to upload to the DPA student gallery. Don’t put this off! Back up your photos now.


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