Before we get into the backup solutions, consider these two points:
- Any time you import images, always back up to a second hard drive immediately. Computer hard drives can and will fail—at any time.
- Your files are useless if you can’t find them. Modern operating systems search metadata, so taking time during your import procedure to add tags could mean the difference between finding an image and not. Consider adding tags like client names, session dates, phone numbers, session types, and session ID numbers. You can always strip metadata tags later, so it's OK to inlcude personal information.
Now, back to backups.
ON-SITE LOCAL SOLUTIONS
Back up to disc: Burning a disc is pretty straightforward, and excluding labor costs, it’s the cheapest form of backup, costing pennies per gigabyte and a fraction of a penny in electricity. Unfortunately, it’s also the least automated, the least consistent, and one of the most questionable forms of backup. Your backup’s safety, reliability, and longevity depends on factors we can’t account for or predict. Archival discs promise more longevity but can be affected by the quality of the burn, how discs are stored, and whether they’re transported off-site. Most important, no one knows how much longer computers will have disc drives. If you’re using the disc as just one part of a redundant backup system, the additional expense and effort may not be worth it. It’s probably best to consider discs a last resort—your final option for preservation or recovery. If you use discs, immediately burn a backup before and after doing any editing because files are at risk whenever they exist in a single location.
Back up to a second hard drive: If you use Adobe Lightroom to manage your image import procedure, you can check Make a Second Copy To (found under the File Handling tab) on your import dialog. This Lightroom backup is manual, and the files are saved in folders titled by import date, so you may have difficulty locating files later. There are other software solutions for automated backup of secondary internal hard drives (hard drives inside your computer). The software monitors specific drives and folders that you set for changes. When a change is detected they automatically begin backing up the data. One caveat: Secondary hard drives are inside your computer, so consider them part of your on-site backup.
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