preserving your memories: backing up digital photos

If you’ve been following along through this series, you now know how to properly store your photos and quickly scan them to create digital copies.  Today I’m going to share my advice on how to backup digital photos!

By now I think everyone has their own heartbreaking story of loss.  For me, it was shortly after I graduated from college when my laptop bit the dust, taking all my senior year photos along with it.  This was before the age of the cloud.  When my computer bit it, any photos that weren’t printed… completely disappeared.  It was devastating.

I remember telling John ‘but they must still be SOMEWHERE!  they can’t just be gone!!‘  I learned a valuable lesson in the importance of having backups.  A couple months later he gave me an external hard-drive for Valentines Day.  May not sound terribly romantic, but a man who cares about the security of my photos/files?  Sold.

Tips on how to backup digital photos... from a professional photographer!

how i backup my personal photos

Let’s start with my iPhone.  I use Dropbox (free version) to backup my phone’s Camera Roll.  An automatic functionality does exist, but I don’t have it turned on.  My little kiddos are always playing around with the camera and snapping blurry photos of nothing and I don’t want to waste my Dropbox space on those files.  So, once every week or so I delete that junk from my Camera Roll and open the Dropbox App, which initiates the backup.  My photos live on my phone + Dropbox until I transfer them to my computer.

Every couple months I sit down at my iMac and transfer over the files from Dropbox.  My photo folders are organized year/month/week  [ex:  2016/January/week 2] and using my calendar for reference, I copy the Dropbox files, selecting one week at a time (the iphone includes the date in the filename), and drag them into the appropriate folder on my desktop.  When the photos reside on my iMac, I remove them from Dropbox (and typically my iPhone too).

Once the photos are on my desktop, I use an external hard drive to backup my computer (shown above… this is the current model).  I setup Time Machine to backup a mirror of my desktop onto this external hard drive.

To recap, my photos are always saved in at least two places:  either my iPhone + Dropbox.  Or my computer + external hard drive.

Except… my computer & external hard drive reside in the same location (my office) and, hypothetically, if something damages my office, I’ll lose the files AND their backups at the same time.  For this reason, I use CRASHPLAN as an offsite backup.  Once installed on your computer, it automatically runs in the background, saving backups offsite.  I never even have to think about it.

A couple notes about Crashplan:  the initial backup takes A LONG TIME.  When I first signed up I think it took over three weeks to get everything transferred.  Now, it runs instantly & quickly in the background.  And, for what it’s worth, I have restored a couple files using their backups.  It was quick & easy & reinforced my love for this service.


how I backup my client photos

The process I use for Miss Freddy client photos is very similar to what I outlined above, but I’ll break it down for anyone who is curious:

After a photoshoot, I upload the raw files onto my desktop.  I keep the files here for the duration of editing.  I also keep the files on the camera memory card, just in case.  When the session is fully edited & the gallery has been shared, I make a copy of the entire client folder (contains originals & edits) and paste the folder onto an external hard drive (one dedicated solely to client work, still this model).  I have Crashplan setup to backup my Miss Freddy external hard drive.  So, while my clients are reviewing their gallery, their photos are saved on my desktop, the external hard drive, camera memory card AND Crashplan.  Once the client has made their final selections & their digital files have been delivered, I delete the folder from my desktop & re-format my memory card.


So, do you think I’m crazy?  With my backups of the backups of the backups?  Don’t worry… tomorrow will be less tech-y as I share ways to preserve your memories by making photos ACCESSIBLE for your family to enjoy!

Are your photos a mess? 

Do you want to create photo books for your family, but things feel like too much of a mess to know where to begin? Do you carry a constant worry that you could lose ALL your photos? (sure, you're paying for iCloud, but do you understand how it works?) 

Free Training!

In this free 10 minute video, I've compiled my TOP THREE TRICKS to stop your photo stress.