I would be remiss if I thought I was telling you something you didn’t already know but managing the security of the files for your photography business is IMPORTANT. But how do you create a backup system for your photography business that is both simple and secure?
We have talked about all the hats that a photographer wears and unfortunately IT specialist is one of them. You may not love the tech aspect behind all this but you need to take the time to create a good backup system that will work for you, AND protect your assets (aka your beautiful photos!)
Without a secure backup system in place, you are at risk for the following:
Setting up a solid, secure backup system is important for so many reasons but mainly for the risk of loss. Here are some of the worst-case-scenarios that are an unfortunate risk of not setting up a good system.
Let’s rip off the band aid and talk about the one thing that can haunt all of us — the thought of losing our files! Product failure happens all the time. SD cards, external hard drives and computer hard drives can fail without warning. It happens all the time. You need to a have a good backup system that will save your files in the event of a catastrophic failure.
If you have had a product fail, you know the grief that comes with it. The not-so-funny thing about it is that this type of thing always seems to happen at the worst possible time.
I can think of about a thousand things I’d rather be doing than trying to recover lost files. Create a seamless system for backing up your files for easy recovery so you can spend more time on things that move your business forward.
Recovering a damaged hard drive can be expensive. Don’t get me wrong – well worth the investment if it brings back files you lost but it can be pricey. Aim to set up a backup system that will give you affordable options to recover lost files.
What is the best way to backup your photography business?
There is no such thing as being too safe when it comes to backing up your files. You want to diversify your risk and layer your backup system by keeping your files backed up on multiple platforms. Here are a few popular and common methods photographers use to create a solid backup system.
1 | External Hard Drives
These are a popular and simple way to back up files as a photographer. External Hard Drives (EHD) are simple to use, portable and can work seamlessly with your editing workflow by allowing quick file transfer.
The risk of file loss however on these is high. External hard drives can be easily lost, stolen or damaged. In any of these events, file recovery can be time consuming, expensive or worst of all, not possible.
2 | Computer Hard Drive
This is a natural place to want to keep your files but the risk of loss and disruption with this method is high. Your computer hard drive may work great for your personal files but keeping your photography business is not a great, long-term solution.
As with EHD’s, a hard drive on your computer is susceptible to the same risks. Perhaps the worst consequence of storing your files on your computer is bogging down your system with heavy and large files. It doesn’t take long for this to happen.
3 | Cloud Backup Systems
Cloud systems and backups are the norm now. There are so many fantastic cloud backup systems that can work seamlessly with your photography business like BackBlaze, Dropbox, and Carbonite to name a few. By keeping a copy of your files “in the cloud” or essentially keeping a copy of your files in another physical location you are avoiding all the risks that come with physical devices for back up. This is a fantastic way to diversify your risk of loss.
4 | Gallery Systems
While this isn’t a primary method for backing up your RAW files, your gallery system is technically a backup for your edited gallery of images. If all else is lost, you at least have a copy of the hi-resolution images you delivered. Gallery systems like Shootproof, Pixieset and Pic-Time are all great options for gallery delivery and file storage.
What to look for in a cloud backup option.
Cloud backup systems are a great safe and secure way to back up your files. Backing up your files in a cloud-based system should be one of the layers you rely on for your photography business. I like to keep my files in a physical location for the active files I’m working on. Once a session is complete, I rely on a cloud-based system as a layer of backup.
With numerous systems out there, here are a few things you should consider when shopping around for a secure cloud backup.
1 | Ease of use
This goes without saying. There are so many options for cloud backup but just like anything, you want it to be easy to use. In most cases, systems are user-friendly but every now and again you will find one that just feels complicated. With so many great options available to you, pick one that works well for you.
2 | Accessibility to Files
Every cloud backup system works a little different but you need to have a simple way to recover your files. If you have ever had to recover your files from an external hard drive, you know it’s a nerve-wracking process. You are usually trying to weigh which option will yield the safest recovery of your files and it’s typically costly as well.
With cloud backup, there is also a recovery process but it’s usually as simple as a file transfer. Evaluate the cloud’s system for accessing and transferring your files to make sure it works for you.
3 | Seamless Integration
This is an important one. In order for a system to be a good one, it’s got to integrate seamlessly with your workflow. If you have to think about it or do something, this will increase the chance of missing a file transfer.
Make sure the cloud will backup your files AUTOMATICALLY and SEAMLESSLY! When shopping for a good cloud backup system for my photography business, I made sure this included an auto-backup of my external hard drives. Not all cloud backup systems will back up an external device.
4 | Cost
I’d hate to say you can’t put a price on security and peace-of-mind, but really you can. There are many great options and many of them very reasonable for the service they provide. Don’t be afraid to price-shop as long as the system is credible, integrates seamlessly with your business, gives you the features you need and is easy-to-use.
5 | Storage Size
Us photographers (and filmmakers, especially) carry some heavy weight when it comes to file size. RAW images can take up an unbelievable amount of room. This is where I’ve found it best to stick with some of the cloud systems that are built for photographers or comfortable with large files. Backblaze is a great option for many photographers.
My Favorite Backup Options for My Photography Business
Backblaze is a great option for professional photographers. It offers seamless and automated backup of all drives, including external hard drives. I’ve found comfort in knowing that any time I connect a hard drive, it’s being read and copied. The best feature of all possibly is that Backblaze has unlimited storage space meaning it’s impossible for my business to outgrow this solution.
Dropbox was always my trusty first choice when I started my business. It was easy to use and I loved it for the accessibility of files from my phone. Once my photography business grew to a certain size though, I was limited to 3TB of storage without sizing up for a multi-user account which was overkill. I still use Dropbox for my personal files and any business files that I like to access from my phone, such as images to be used on social media.
Here’s a snapshot of what my backup system looks like for my photography business:
In my family photography business, I use a combination of Seagate External Hard Drives (4 TB each), Backblaze for ongoing cloud backup, Dropbox for non-image, business files, personal files and any images I use for social media. I also use Pic-Time as my gallery provider which keeps a copy of my edited galleries.
Your business backup system may be similar to mine, or very different. No matter the differences, the only thing that matters is that you have built a solid, multi-layer system for backing up your images and files. Make this a priority in your business and make sure you set it up to be fool-proof, meaning it’s easy to use and secure.
I’d love to know how you have your backup system set up, so please share! If you have any questions for me, please ask in the comments below and I’ll get right back to you!
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What about people with a slower internet connection. I live in the middle of no where and internet is in low speeds! I’m worried a cloud option would be too slow to back up everything! I currently use two external hard drives, one I work off of and one as back up. Then all my finished work is kept on pictime forever (hopefully)
That’s a great question. Cloud backup is a nice option for the convenience factor and the security of keeping your files in another location. It’s essentially just a backup for your backup. If you have a slower internet connection, the cloud may burden your system with its constant syncing. If this is the case, just add another layer to your backup in a physical form. Although not as convenient, security of your files will always trump convenience! Add another external hard drive but keep it in a safe space and away from the others. Securing it in a water- and fire-resistant location, such as a small safe, would work well. The key is to protect it from any catastrophic damage. If you do this, be sure to set a reminder for yourself to run the backups so this doesn’t get skipped!