Best Practices for the Photography Workflow Backup

In the modern world of photography, presenting photographs digitally is a necessity. This is true for me even though I am a film based photographer. In order to present photographs digitally I make use of high-resolution film scans, in the range of 325 MB each. The high resolutions scans I use are all produced by West Coast Imaging, on their Heidelberg Tango drum scanner. These scans are both expensive and time consuming to produce, so as a result, I seek to protect my investment in them as much as possible.

Almost every photographer has their own backup strategy. Their backup strategy should be based upon their individual needs and consideration. However, there are certain best practices that should be considered when defining a strategy.

Successful Backup Strategy Considerations

A successful backup strategy should take the following into consideration:

Decide what you need to back up. Start with your answer to the question “What can I afford to lose?” As photographers we are interested in our image files first, however, our general business related files are also important to the well being of the photography business.

First, separate data files from operating system files, and place them on either a separate partition or a separate drive. This will make finding, backing up, and restoring the desired files much easier. 

Secondly, set aside your installation disks for all your software and your operating system. I like to set aside the CD or DVDs they come on, as well as copy the disks to an external drive (where re-installation is much faster).

Define the backup techniques and technologies. Not every photographer has the same needs. A large studio or photography business may need an enterprise level solution, while the freelancer can get by with much cheaper solutions. Remember, the more extensive the backup, the more difficult it will be to use, and the less likely it will be carried out successfully.

Consider keeping a backup log. Keep the listing in a book or a file listing on an external drive. This can make it easier to find a specific file if you happen to overwrite or destroy it in some manner. A general listing is sufficient.

Backups should be automatic. Whatever technique or technology you select, it should be automatic; you shouldn’t need to be present to initiate a backup.

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