My Photo Backup Strategy.

So I just read an article titled, Don’t Trust ‘Free’ Photo Hosting Sites, or: The Problem with Flickr” and I feel that the author might have been reacting to his own frustration of relying on just one service for online photo storage. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using Free online photo-hosting sites. I use many of them and am not worried about losing my photos. Let me explain:

I am a fan of the 3-2-1 backup methodology:

3. Have three copies of your data
2. Store it on two mediums (Hard Drive, DVD-ROM, Flash Drive, Cloud Service)
1. Keep one copy off-site.

I store all my photos on an internal HDD in my desktop computer. Every night, Microsoft SyncToy runs and backs up any new/changed files to a Drobo (a 4-Disk RAID array). This gives me two on-site backups (Three if you count the memory cards that I don’t erase until before an event/shoot). Finally, I share my “keepers” to various free online services including Flickr, Instagram, Google Drive, Facebook, etc… This alone is more than enough of a backup strategy for me and fulfills the 3-2-1 methodology. I am also looking into using a paid online cloud service for a complete off-site backup, but just for added piece of mind.

Should any of the online services shut down, I can just re-export the images from one of my local copies and upload them to a new cloud service. If a hard drive should fail, I can just replace it and copy the files back from the other drive(s), or from one of the cloud services. If I was ever in a situation where I had to rely on a cloud service for my backup, it would be a painful process to begin with as transferring an entire photo library over a network connection can take a loooooong time (It took me over a week at 30Mbps to upload all my photos to Amazon Cloud). Cloud services should be looked at as a last-resort and worse-case-scenario solution for backup.

The author of the article stated, “do not trust or put all your eggs in these ‘free’ online services.”, but he should have said “Don’t put all your eggs in any one service, free or not. And when it comes to cloud services, you should not be relying on them for everything anyway. One of my favorite sayings lately is, “There is no cloud. It’s just somebody else’s computer”. It’s so true (though their computer is usually better than yours!).

So, what’s your backup strategy?

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