Backing up your photos redux… again

27May08

Scott Kelby of Photoshop Insider is at it again on backing up photos, and gives more details on how he ensures his photos are safe during and after a photo shoot.

The most basic way to say it is:

Have at least two copies of your photos saved somewhere at all times.

Well, before you erase your flash card anyway.

I pretty much follow the spirit of his advice. Call me paranoid, but with such media — hard drives, flash cards, etc. — it’s not a question of IF the media will fail, but WHEN. I figure that if it’s good enough to photograph, it’s probably good enough to ensure I don’t lose the photos.

If I’m near home, after a photo shoot, it’s easy to just download the photos from the CF card into my PC, and upload it to Lightroom. Soon after, my backup strategy kicks in and ensures that it’s replicated to another hard drive, and also to my online backup at Mozy.

If I’m on vacation and am away from home for more than a day, I generally don’t like to carry my laptop just because I’d rather be disconnected. In those cases, I carry two portable storage devices (PSD) and back up my flash cards to both each night. Did I tell you I was paranoid? In fact, so much so that my portable hard drives are different, just to eliminate one possible failure scenario. One is a cheap Digimate III I bought for $25 without a hard drive, and another is a more expensive Vosonic VP6230, with a screen (The Digimate also has a screen but you can’t view your images on it). Think of the latter as a poor man’s Epson P-5000. Both of the PSDs were bought in 2006 prior to my major trip to Europe, and have served me well there and in subsequent trips to exotic locales.

Digimate III portable storage device
Digimate III portable storage device

Both take CF and SD cards, so I can back up my CF cards, and my wife’s SD cards — she carries around a Canon A620 camera. The nice thing about the Vosonic is that I can visually confirm that the photos have successfully transfered to the PSD, and can also use it for reviewing my photos later. The really nice thing about the Vosonic is that it’s able to decode RAW and correctly display the RAW files on the screen, including NEF and CRW!

Vosonic VP6230 portable storage device
Vosonic P6320 portable digital storage device

Once the photos are all backed up to both devices, I can then safely format the flash cards in the cameras for next day’s shoot. I’m fortunate that both PSDs can use the same charger so I don’t need to lug around too much extra gear to support my backup plan.

Whether you go to such lengths for backing up your photos depend on what you’re taking and how much effort you want to mess with all the additional gear.

In terms of choice, there are so many different options now. Vosonic is still in business and has better products out there, there’s one from Nexto that’s well known for it’s performance, but doesn’t have a screen. There’s always Epson’s expensive solutions. You’ll definitely not be at a lost for possibilities.

Hope this gives you something to chew on for your next trip somewhere far away from home.

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