Photographers, Be Sure You Have a Backup Plan

As I unpacked my gear at a recent photo shoot for a local publication, I suddenly flew into panic mode: I realized I had left my card wallet on my workstation 30 minutes away.

Then I remembered that I had a 2GB compact flash card in my glove compartment. I took a deep breath as a relieved smile spread across my face.

Ah, the comfort of having a backup plan.

Five Tips for Backing Up Your Business

Back in the days when I shot film for newspapers, I always kept a couple of rolls in my glove box — just in case I had to cover an accident or came upon a newsworthy scene. Fortunately for me, I carried this habit into the digital age.

Here are five tips for creating a backup plan for your photography business:

  1. Back up images during shoots. Backing up your photos while in studio or on location is good practice. I always dump my photos onto my laptop during sessions. I also make another copy on an external hard drive. This way, I have three sets of photos when I finish the shoot — one on the cards, one on the laptop and another on the external hard drive. External hard drives aren’t very expensive, so be sure to invest in one and take it on all your shoots.
  2. Back up your archived images. Hard drives will crash; it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” When backing up my images, I go by the 3-2-1 rule – three sets of backups on two different media types, along with one off-site backup. There are a number of good solutions out there; options include hardware-based systems or uploading your files to server space. The key is to make multiple copies in different locations.
  3. Back up your e-mail online. A few years back I set up a Gmail account to receive and archive copies of all my e-mails. It’s free for up to 7GB of server space and simple to set up. To keep clutter down, I’ve created filters that sort and/or block different kinds of e-mails. It’s a great way to keep an electronic paper trail, which is important to every business. It’s also easy to access on the go and doesn’t clog my hard drive.
  4. Back up your data online. Many inexpensive services are available today to let you back up your data remotely. With most of them, you can upload any file type and then access it from your desktop, laptop or mobile device. It’s a great way to transfer large files to your clients without cutting into your bandwidth. I just upload a zip file and send the link to my client, who can then download the file. It also saves on shipping CDs or DVDs to clients.
  5. Copyright your images. The ultimate backup plan — lasting, legal protection for your work. This was my New Year’s resolution, and I am happy to say I have been sticking with it. Once you incorporate the copyright process into your workflow, it’s quick and easy to do. Go here for more information about registering your photos; you’ll be glad you did.

Any other tips from your own experience? Feel free to post them in comments.

3 Responses to “Photographers, Be Sure You Have a Backup Plan”

  1. Just thinking of backing up while on location, can you tether a USB drive straight to your DSLR (a D90 to be exact)?

  2. No I this is not currently possible, you need software to capture the image and than you can move it to a USB drive. Cool idea but I have never seen this yet.

  3. Can you keep SD/CF cards in a glove box?

    I always used to keep extra film hanging around, but I'd always thought the heat would fry the cards.

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