So, your photos are stored on at least two hard drives at this point.
You’d think you’d be set, right?
What happens if your house gets hit by lightning and it fries all of those lovely hard drives?
What happens if your house burns down?
What happens if you get burglarized?
These are the things that keep me up at night, people.
Let me tell you a story…
I had a client call me in tears about a year ago.
Her house had just been broken into.
The burglars took her laptop, where all of her baby’s photos were stored.
They also broke into the fireproof safe and took the external hard drives where her backup copies of those photos were stored.
She did almost everything right.
She had the photos labeled and organized.
She had the backups.
She had a fireproof safe!
But there was one tiny little detail that was overlooked…
You need to keep a copy off-site.
(The silver lining of her story was that I had all of the Baby’s First Year photos I had taken of her daughter and was able to send her links to re-download her images within minutes of her call. Woo hoo!)
Off-Site Storage: My Setup
I use two different off-site storage places…one for current year photos, one for prior year photos.
Two places may be overkill for the average family, but this blog series is about what I do for backup, so you’re gonna get the down-and-dirty details of my whole system.
Current Year Photos: Dropbox
I use Dropbox to accomplish off-site storage for my personal photos of the current year.
I have an automatic backup set to copy everything in my Personal Photos folder to a corresponding folder within my Dropbox folder, which gets automatically synced to the cloud in the background on my computer.
There are lots of other great cloud storage places—Crashplan, BackBlaze, Google Drive, SugarSync, the list goes on. I’ve tried a few of them, but I’ve settled on Dropbox for a few reasons.
- I can backup other types of files too…all of my personal documents and business documents, graphics and collateral are stored on Dropbox.
- I can easily share docs with other people when I’m working on projects…this is especially helpful to share things with my assistants, editors and fellow Cub Scout leaders.
- I like that it gives me an extra way to transfer files to clients, if I need it.
- I have it set up on my phone too, so my phone photos are automatically uploaded to Dropbox. Plus, I can pull things down from Dropbox to my phone if I’m on the go and I need to access a document.
- It has a folder that lives on my computer, which makes it super easy to set up an automated backup.
- Multifactor authentication gives me assurance that my files are safe from hackers.
- It’s only $99 a year for 1 TB worth of storage.
That said, any of the other cloud providers are totally fine—I’m using Dropbox because it works for the way I work.
Prior Year Photos: Zenfolio
Due to the fact that my days are spent editing other family’s photos, I tend to process and organize my personal photos only a couple of times per year.
Typically, in January, I take a day or two to just have a personal photo editing marathon and get everything from the past year organized and printed.
After I edit everything, I move the photos over to my archive drive then upload the files to my client photo storage place, Zenfolio.com.
I have used Zenfolio since before I had my business, and the main reason I like it is that it allows for free downloading of the high resolution files.
And they offer unlimited storage.
So, if something tragic would happen, I can get all of my high resolution jpegs from Zenfolio for all the photos I’ve ever taken, client or personal.
It seriously helps me sleep at night.
I use the business plan, but at $60 per year for their unlimited personal plan, Zenfolio is very affordable and worth every.single.penny.
All photo storage places are not created equal
I know some of you use Snapfish or Shutterfly to order prints.
I know because I do it too.
However, you cannot rely on Snapfish or Shutterfly or most online photo labs as your online photo storage place because they do not keep your high resolution files after a certain period of time (and, in most cases, you have to pay to download them again).
Make sure you check that you can easily access your high-resolution files for free before you commit to a storage place.
What works for me, may not work for you…
I have a LOOOOOOOOOOOOT of photo files, you guys, so my storage needs are pretty unique.
You may find that Dropbox OR Zenfolio (or Crashplan, Backblaze, or whatever) can meet your storage needs without having to use both.
At this point, I know what you’re thinking…
You’re thinking, “Duh, Rhiannon…one copy just needs to be off-site…I’ll just take that second external hard drive you made me buy and leave it at my parents’ house.”
And then at some point it will hit you that you still don’t have an off-site storage solution for your current year photos.
And then you’ll just run through this scenario, “Okay, well, I’ll just put current year on there too and update it every few months and swap out the two hard drives.”
I know you’re thinking this because, a few years ago, I thought I could do this too.
And while that is admirable, let me save you some agony:
It’s probably not going to work.
It’s going to get cumbersome, you’ll forget to swap on a regular basis…it’s just too much to deal with when you have a busy family.
When I tried this system, I was going to swap every two weeks. I had calendar reminders and everything!
This system lasted me two weeks.
Here’s the other thing to think about if you do this system…you only have two copies of the photos. Which, yes, is better than one copy, but it’s still just not as secure when you have 3 copies (anyone else worry about solar flares? because I do).
And, one last terrible thing to think about as you’re trying to fall asleep at night…what happens if your house AND your off-site storage house are in the path of something tragic, like a tornado or a hurricane or worse?
Sorry. I’m really good at coming up with worst-case scenarios in the middle of the night.
Cloud storage places are REALLY off-site. They’re typically in another state. And they have backups in other states. Sometimes in other countries.
It is worth $60-100 a year to make sure your photos are safe.
And you can probably find a cheaper cloud storage solution that will work for you if you look around.
Just don’t keep all those eggs in one basket, yo.
We’re almost there…tomorrow’s article with wrap everything up with how to make the backups just happen like magical unicorns. Part 5: Don’t wait…AUTOMATE!