You're only as good as your last Backup - Backup Tips and the Chance to Win a Hard Drive

You’re only as good as your last Backup – Backup Tips and the Chance to Win a Hard Drive


G-TechWant to win a Hard Drive for Backing Up your Images? Read on to find out How.

Ever lost something that you loved? I have, I lost a necklace that my very first girlfriend gave me – I was fourteen at the time I think, All I remember is that she used to cry during “Listen to your heart by Roxette” I know, that’s touching…  Anyway, I lost the necklace that she’d given me for my birthday. I realize that I couldn’t “Back that up” but I still remember how it made me feel…

Things that you can backup include your digital photos and the rest of the contents of your computer… These days drive space is cheap and easy to set up, but unless you follow some golden rules there is almost no point.

Erin from Fabrik dropped me an email with her ten points to a good backup for you all to try, I’ll post them below.

Win a G-Drive Q 1TB

That isn’t the only thing that Erin came up with, Oh No!..G-Technology have kindly donated one of their G-Drive Q 1TB external drives to us as a prize for this weeks DPS ASSIGNMENT. The topic for this week is going to be “Drive” You can translate that any way you would like, but to catch my eye you’re going to need to be creative and trying your very hardest!

Here are Erin’s ten tips to a decent backup…

1. Reliability – Select a storage solution that has a good reputation, and is built to last.  For example, to ensure reliability, all G-Tech drives come in an all-aluminum enclosure (no plastic), which acts as a heat sink, keeping the drive cool. Heat kills drives.

2. Capacity … Select a drive with enough capacity so you have room to grow. Rule of thumb is to by 2x to 3x the amount of space you’ll need.

3. Connectivity … Future proof your investment. There are many solutions on the market, such as the G-Drive Q 1TB that come with USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800 and eSATA interfaces so you can be sure to connect with any system today, as well as in the future.

4. Local Backup Software … Mac users prefer to use Time Machine (it’s a beautiful app and is very simple). There is a plethora of PC backup software tools available … Arcsoft, EMC Retrospect and more. Any of them will do fine. The important thing is to just do it.

5. Online Backup … For added protection, in case of fire, theft, or other natural disaster, it’s wise to keep a separate copy of your most important stuff offsite, and available online. Solutions such as Fabrik Ultimate Backup offer 2GB for free of online backup space. If you want to upgrade, it’s only $4.95 per month for unlimited capacity.

6. Develop a Backup Schedule -  Good backup software will require you to set an automatic backup schedule once … on a day or time that’s convenient for you; daily, weekly or monthly.  You just simply set it and forget it. Rule of thumb, backup weekly at a minimum, or as often as you save/store important work or irreplaceable files to your hard drive.

7. Back up Everything – Today you can easily back up all of your hard drive data. No need to spend time sorting through every file or folder. Again, invest in a storage solution that’s twice the size of your internal hard drive, to give your system room to grow.

8. Rotate Backups … Even though they’re secure, some people are not comfortable using an online backup service. If this is the case, give yourself added protection. Use two drives and rotate one offsite. You should always, always, always have two copies of your most important stuff…did I say “always”?

9. RAID it … Solutions like the G-Raid Mini (it will ship w/RAID 1 later this quarter) or G-Safe solution provide RAID 1, mirroring. Whatever gets written to the first drive is automatically copied, or “mirrored,” to the second, so if anything should happen to either disk, your data is still there.

10. Don’t procrastinate … Unfortunately, the need to back up data is often a lesson learned from a bitter experience. Don’t let it happen to you.

Thanks Erin!

I work in IT and (All jokes about a missing necklace and a bad eighties pop song aside) have seen “Disaster” happen, The company I work for, due to documented budget cuts wouldn’t replace a piece of hardware, and as a result we had a massive failure of one of our nine tb disk arrays and lost just over a million documents, now, you may only lose a couple of hundred photos, but if you’d had that backup in place you would have lost nothing and you wouldn’t have that sad face on!

Join us in the G-Drive Q 1TB


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Sime (aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Some Older Comments

  • External Hard Drive Reviews April 5, 2009 05:25 pm

    Using such a hdd will definitely save my data in safety :)

  • Jack Fussell November 24, 2008 08:26 am

    I edit on my laptop....then backup to desktop external(1)...then weekly to desktop external(2). And this week I start backing up to my own server space. I wasn't too worried about this until we were robbed recently and I realized how close I was to losing all of this year's photos. Not again....time to back up!

  • play4smee November 21, 2008 05:59 pm

    I have 3 back external hard drive, our server and DVD/CD. The CDs and DVDs I keep off site. I'd recommend having at least 2 backups...and keep at least one off site. If the house burns down at least you'll still have your photos!

  • Roger123 November 21, 2008 10:34 am

    I just lost nearly 1,000 images that were NOT backed up. It seems like I'm procrastinating, but it's really a matter of "I just don't know how" to choose or install or use a backup, be it internal or external.


  • AltJ November 21, 2008 04:06 am

    rhermans, that's one reason I really like Mozy. You can download any files from your backup sets through a web browser. I may have to edit my blog post to add that one.

  • Slava33 November 21, 2008 03:50 am

    rhermans, good point! I also believe the tools that let you copy files with no compression, combining, etc. are much easier to use when you need to recover data. Plus, you can easily pluck files out of a backup that you accidently delete on the main drive. I like JungleDisk S3 service for the cloud backup (straight copy), and am planning to start using SyncToy for local backup to an external drive.

    Another point I'd like to mention is that some people prefer image backups (backing up the whole drive bit-by-bit). I don't think it's a good solution since it is often unreliable in my experience and also, if my harddrive gets corrupted, I don't really want to get it back to the "almost corrupted" state. I just want to recover my data.

  • Brian November 21, 2008 03:28 am

    Huge importance to backing up your data and unfortunately those who don't only learn the hard way. Think of it, pictures of your newborn, gone for ever. Ugh!

    Another solution to your overall backup strategy is to backup your entire hard drive using Ghost or better yet, Acronis True Image. Should your drive fail, you can restore your entire hard drive image from an external (or 2nd internal drive) to another drive. Reboot and you're back in business. It will take extra space but hard drive space is cheap.

  • dave November 21, 2008 03:15 am

    search for "davebd1" to see some of my work, cool tips!

  • rhermans November 21, 2008 01:51 am

    I'm missing something here, a backup is a great thing to have, but you have to be able to RESTORE THE BACKUP.

    Sounds strange, maybe but I've had enough experience with people/firms who make a backups every day and ... never ever checked what was in that backup, or if they could even Restore the data.

    This is especially true for backup systems that use a way of storing the data that can't be restored without their special restore software.

    If you can use something that makes a backup in the style of a copy use that.
    (Personally I use Synckback SE on Windows. This works with a clean copy, has incremental functionality [only copies the changed or new files] and even keeps a number of versions.[if a file has changed it will be moved to a sub folder, and renamed with a time stamp])

    Another thing you have to take in account is that the easier you can make a backup the more you are going to do it. The better your backup is going to be up to date.

    Now how does my backup work flow looks like.
    - got my images on an usb drive
    - daily make a backup copy to a network drive.
    only have to start the program and let it do it's job.
    - once a month I do an extra backup towards an other usb drive (not incremental) - why once a month (guess I'm lazy)

    Before shooting Raw I used a flickr pro account as an extra backup, still have the account but don't use it for that reason anymore.

  • John Jimenez November 20, 2008 10:43 pm

    I actually used XXCopy and rolled my own drive sync to a portable hard drive. XXCopy allowed for me make "backups" of any images deleted from the source in the event of an accidental *unnoticed* delete.

    And because XXCopy is a cmdline tool, once I debugged the process and the results, it is nice and easy to set it up in a windows scheduled task.

    Automated backups with a deleted file fail safe, all for free.

  • evan johnson November 20, 2008 08:27 pm

    Very true, loosing a photo forever can be a real let down.

    - Evan

  • Keri November 20, 2008 07:05 pm is a good solution for automated PC backups.

    If you don't mind doing a bit of manual backing up there are many free tools that will put your files in amazon's S3 service - quite possibly the cheapest online storage available, and no doubt who most of the online backup solutions use. There are automated tools out there but I've not found a good free one yet.

    Personally I have my data backed up across a couple of external drives (NAS & USB) in my carbonite and also in Amazon S3. You could say that it is overkill, but I only started using S3 after I renewed my carbonite, and I am selective with what is in my S3 whereas my carbonite has the majority of my data.

  • Sime November 20, 2008 10:39 am

    Hey, Hope you liked my little article (With a bit of help from Erin - thanks, Erin!) Have any of you tried Fabrik?

    I'm using it now, in addition to everything else... Nice little piece of work.. Give it a try for free


  • AltJ November 20, 2008 06:55 am

    I recently blogged about Mozy (which also works on Macs) and have been quite impressed with how well it works
    The post is here:

  • Justin Wright November 20, 2008 06:38 am

    I try to keep a copy on my laptop, external hard drive, and somewhere on the internet. I prefer using a Pro Flickr Account since you can upload originals and keep them there.

  • Reznor November 20, 2008 05:23 am

    5 locations is insane. The only thing that could happen to destroy your pictures on your computer, a DVD and an external drive is a fire or any other natural disaster in which case you have other worries than your pictures. I think one backup on DVD and another harddrive at another location (at work, some server) is more than sufficient.

  • Slava33 November 20, 2008 04:19 am

    Woaa, 5 backup locations! I guess since most of the work in backing up is spent to set it up initially, it's probably not too labor intensive... But one offsite (and maybe one local) backup seems sufficient to me. In order for you to lose your data, two very unlikely events have to happen at once: the combined conditional probability is probably well below 1%.

    I use JungleDisk for offsite backup mainly because of flexibility and online access.

  • Alexandru November 20, 2008 03:48 am

    My pictures are on my laptop, an external hard drive, my PC at work, a server at work, and my old PC which is in another country. So I keep my pictures in 5 places. Plus some CDs and DVDs, but I haven't made one of those in a long time. Plus flickr for the most important pictures.

    I think it is also important to keep the pictures on your camera until you put those pictures to at least another place. This way you avoid deleting pictures by mistake. Kind of like a "backup before backup".

    And if you travel I think it is a good idea to use two memory cards, and switch them on the last day of the trip, or before going to sensitive areas where the guards might demand that you erase all your pictures. Or in case the camera gets confiscated/stolen/broken. This way you would at least have the pictures from the other card, provided that you kept it in a safe place.

  • Khürt Williams November 20, 2008 02:53 am


    "Whatever gets written to the first drive is automatically copied, or “mirrored,” to the second, so if anything should happen to either disk, your data is still there."

    That means if garbage is written to the first drive is automatically copied, or “mirrored,” to the second.

    Also, whatever is deleted from the first drive is automatically deleted on the second.

  • Massimo Belloni November 20, 2008 02:46 am

    Backing up everything is, as correctly pointed out, the best idea. Without spending too much you can have a really sure backup system. My suggestion is to get TWO external disks, which will rotate: one at home (to restore quickly data), and one somewhere else (this will protect from home disaster and theft). Most important thing: use a backup solution which will use a program that is NOT on the system which is currently booted (typically you obtain this booting from a CD), so the PC data are seen (especially the system disk/partition) as external, and they will be backed up without the risk of file inconsistency due to their eventual update in the meantime of the backup and for always possible file lock problems. Rotate the disks one per time. That's all.

  • Jeff O'Hara November 20, 2008 02:36 am

    Drobo & be done with it.

    Use online backup for absolute important things. Mozy is good for small stuff, flickr gets my most prized photos. I also have all my documents in google docs.


  • ERiCK November 20, 2008 02:35 am

    if you dont have enough budget for another external drive, get an internal hdd and defrag it. i always do that so in case the OS dies, i still have it on my other drive.

    i use Beyond & Compare for transferring files, it's cheap and i'd say it's better than SyncToy

  • Homburg Pokes November 20, 2008 02:13 am

    Backups on the Cheap

    1. Buy an external drive from an online retailer like / Tiger Direct. Buy a name brand with favorable reviews. You'll save lots of money online. I recently purchased a 1 Terabyte drive for $137 and free shipping. You may not need a large drive and can do it for around $60. Costco is also a good source for external drives, and they carry an excellent warranty on their products.

    2. SyncToy 2.0 (beta) from Microsoft is FREE and will run scheduled back up both locally and over a network. It is very easy to configure and has plenty of options. See the Help menu on how to schedule it to run daily and backup the new files.

    I also use Backup4All which has the ability to write to an external website via FTP and other means (depends on version). It is not perfect, but was what I needed at the time. For most users, SyncToy 2.0 will work wonders.

    I prefer to keep my pictures on a media drive rather than my main operating system drive. Should something happen to my operating system, I don't need to worry about my pictures. Internal storage is cheap, and unless you have more than 40,000 high resolution photos, you can pick up an adequate drive (250GB) for less than $60. Installing is easy, so don't pay Geek Squad or any other rip-off service.

    Because I have multiple computers in my home, the pictures are backed up to all of them. If one computer blows-up and takes the drives with them, they are still on other computers (backed up nightly). While extra internal drives and external drives are awesome, if they are permanently connected to your computer, there is ALWAYS a risk of corruption / loss via a power strike.

    3. Online Services - I backup my favorite pictures to online services like Flickr and Google Picasa, but do so at the expense of resolution.

    4. DVD-Backup - DVD backup is a huge pain when you have tens of thousands of photos. It is also necessary to prevent loss in the event of a house fire. I make an effort to do it every 6 months and then I send the DVDs to a friend for storage at their house.

    External Drive + SyncToy 2.0 Beta = Low cost backup with a reasonable amount of protection for an amateur photographer.

  • Russ November 20, 2008 02:11 am

    Just thought I'd be the one to say that RAID doesn't make your data any safer. RAID systems help ensure uptime on the device should a single drive fail.

    They don't protect against the OS corrupting the device or your RAID controller/back-pane failing and going down screaming destroying your data as it goes.

    If you're aiming for data security instead of buying a single RAID-ed box with 2 disks, buy two disks and alternate backups between them. That way you've got an off-line device that you can restore from on a separate system if required.

  • Rosh November 20, 2008 01:19 am

    Excellent list.

    The importance of backing up can't be overlooked. It is recommend that you store your files in at least three spaces. One should be off site. (I guess number 8 says that).

    I still use DVD's for some of my back up. They say the DVD's will last 100 years. But, I don't know anyone with a 100 year old DVD. So, I'm not too sure about that solution.

    Basically, a list like this reminds me there are about five more things I should be doing to keep my files safe.