So, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about this week as I watched my photos being backed up from my hard drive to the cloud with a service called Blackblaze. I thought about writing about taking glamour portraits, as I'm taking an all-day class on the subject tomorrow, but since I hadn't taken the class yet, that didn't seem like a good option. I thought about an entry focusing on taking photos of uncooperative adults, but I couldn't find any. I thought writing on how much I hated the Dodgers and wanted them to fail miserably in the playoffs wasn't a good idea, as that could alienate many of the tens of people who read this blog. Then it hit me... why not write about the back-up process I'm going through right now... remember Blackblaze? Come on... I just wrote about it two or three sentences ago. Now you remember? There are many ways to back up your photos and some are right for some people and some for others, but whatever you do, back-up your photos! Your hard drive is going to fail. It's not a matter of if, it's when. You'll want to be prepared. I back up my photos three different ways right now and as soon as I get my new Drobo system all hooked up, it will be five. Well, technically four, because when I hook up the Drobo I'm going to remove the hard drive I'm currently using, but you get the idea.
1) You're going to want to back up your photos online, or "in the cloud," as we nerdy guys like to say. Come on, it just sounds cool when you say you're doing things in the cloud!
Storing photos in the cloud means you can access them from any device that has an Internet connection. Your pictures will live online, available on a personal, password-protected website; you can sign in to that website, just like you would your email, to view those pictures or download them onto your computer.
Most cloud storage service sites are free to sign up for, and each service gives you a certain amount of free space before you have to pay a yearly fee. Backblaze, which I mentioned earlier is one of these sites. You can back up your entire computer... all of it for as little as $3.50 a month if you sign up for two years. Even if you go month to month, it won't cost you more than $5 a month. It's totally simple too. You literally sign up and set up a password and then download their software and push "start." You're done. That's it. It's that easy. It will initially take a couple days depending on how many files you're backing up, but once you do it, the software will continue to monitor your system, looking for changes and will back-up any new changes you make as you make them. Then, if something should happen to your computer, all your files and photos will be in the cloud, on this back-up website, waiting for you to download and put on your new computer or hard drive.
Which cloud should you choose to park your ass upon? These cloud storage sites are all easy to use and function essentially the same. What really matters is that you select one and commit to it. They all do roughly the same thing for roughly the same amount of money. I did a lot of research before I chose Backblaze, so feel free to email me if you have any questions.
2) Buy an external hard drive.
The other option, which I use in addition to the online back-up system, is an external hard drive. An external hard drive is a portable storage space that plugs into your computer and can be used to store huge amounts of data and files.
If you own a computer, you really should already have a portable hard drive -- backing up your entire hard drive and operating system regularly can dull the pain of any number of digital catastrophes that could otherwise wipe out your data.
You can buy an external 1TB hard drive wherever you buy computer equipment for under $100; a good rule of thumb is to purchase one that is at least twice as much storage as your computer's hard drive. Most external hard drives are easy to operate, as you just plug the drive in to your computer and drag the folders and files you want saved into the folder that represents the drive. There are also several free programs you can download that will automate the backup process for you without changing anything on your computer. If you use a Mac, you can use the built in Time Machine program, which couldn't be easier to use.
So what do I do?
I have an external drive plugged into my computer that copies all my files. I have another external hard drive that I keep elsewhere and once a month I download all my photos to it. That way, if something bad happens to my computer and the external drive that's plugged into it, I have this one as a back-up. AND, I'm backing up my whole system to the cloud. So hopefully I'm totally covered. If anything happens, I'm covered a bunch of different ways... just in case.
Unless you have magical powers, you cannot know when your computer will fail, your hard drive will break, you'll be abducted by aliens, a car will crash into your computer, or your dog will piss on your hard drive. Backing up your computer isn't the sexiest or most fun activity, but it just might be the one that saves the all-too-vulnerable bundle of memories on your hard drive. We all know people who have lost everything on their computers. It's a horrible feeling and it's relatively easy to avoid if you're prepared.
Stop putting this off. Back up your photos today. DO IT NOW! I'll wait.