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Photography Question 
Josh A. Friedman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2010

Best Way to Back Up my Photos

For the past 6-8 months, I've taken many thousands of photos (many for the BetterPhoto courses that I've taken). My images are all stored on our MAC desktop computer. What is the best way to back these up? So far I've been lucky, and I haven't had a problem. That said, I want to put a system in place to make sure I don't lose thousands of images. In the past, I had a 4 MP camera, and every few months I'd burn a disk with photos. Now I have a Canon 7D (18 MP), so it is not practical to burn CDs (i.e. I can only fit a small # on a CD). Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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8/18/2010 9:45:27 AM

Randy A. Myers
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2002
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  Josh, I have two external hard drives hooked up to my computer. I have a backup program that backs the computer hard drive to the first external drive, then the second external drive backs up the first external drive. I know if I go check the files on the second external drive and they are good, then that means the first external backup is good since that's where the files came from. It takes up no time since it is done automatically. The price of external hard drives is now cheap enough to make this a feasible option. You can also set up a "RAID". Do an Internet search and you can find that info. There are also sites on the Internet that you can automatically back up to. They require a fee, but the advantage is they are off-site and will protect you in a catastrophic loss such as a house fire or tornado. I also burn "special trips or outings" to DVD. Good luck.

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8/18/2010 12:45:00 PM

Josh A. Friedman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2010
  Thanks Randy. That's very helpful.


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8/18/2010 12:57:03 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hi Josh,
I second Randy's suggestion, and I am currently using (2) 1TB Iomega Firewire external drives and another 500GB external that is dedicated for MAC's Time Machine program. I want to mention Time Machine as once you turn it on and select a drive, it will eat the whole drive unless you partition it and select how much space it can use (it will tell you if it is too little). I made the mistake of using one of my 1TB drives and it eventually took over 400GB of space from that drive, which is why I decided to use an older 500GB drive that would only be for Time Machine. The real problem came when I went to delete the Time Machine files from that 1TB drive, it is very tricky and a headache. After several days, I finally reclaimed the space on that drive and it now uses the dedicated 500GB drive. I have a similar setup with a partitioned portable drive I use for my Macbook Pro.
Since getting my Canon 5D Mk II (with 21MB files), I can relate to the space consumption you have with your 7D.
As Randy stated, external drives are much cheaper now and very much worth the investment. Never trust just 1 drive as they can and do fail. I used to backup to DVDs and have a book of my photos on DVDs that are at a friend's house (in case of fire) and I have a book of his for the same reason. I recently dropped an older 750GB drive with my more recent photos that will sit on his shelf in case I ever need it.
The Iomega 1TB Firewire 400 External drives are about $130 and they are stackable, provide additional firewire and USB ports, and are fast. I have 5 of them I have used for the last 2.5 years and they are all working just fine.
Hope this helps,

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8/18/2010 4:32:46 PM

Josh A. Friedman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2010
  Hi Carlton. Thanks very much for the info. That's extremely helpful.


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8/18/2010 7:15:42 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003

Another consideration for secure backup would be investing in the 1.5TB "ioSafe Solo" external hard drive. sells it for $249. It is fireproof up to 1550 Degrees F. for up to 30 min. and water tight up to 10ft. for 3 days.

While off site storage is still the safest option, the ioSafe drive is a very secure option for the price.

God Bless,

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8/24/2010 11:23:19 AM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/17/2003
  Then there is the simplist solution of all. Buy a subscription to I bought one for three years for about $150. Follow the instructions and install carbonite and then it monitors your computer and backs all the normal files plus any you specify such as my pictures. It then keeps an eye on all the normal files plus the one you named and whenever there is anything new it exports them to carbonite with full incryption etc. to their server in the background whenever your computer is not being activly used. It may take several days the first time depending on the speed of you modem. My computer fried itself in January. Had to get a new one. Once it was set up and running I just went to carnonite and told it to restore all the files and it was done. All my photos are back good as new. So even if your house burns down or sinks in a giant sunami, your files are safe! You could have 4 or five BU hard drives but unless they are physically located apart from each other in different locations you could lose it all.

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8/24/2010 2:34:52 PM

Josh A. Friedman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/3/2010
  Hi guys. Thanks very much for the suggestions. Since posting the question, I have purchased & installed an external hard drive. It sounds as though an off-site option (i.e. would give added protection.

Thanks again.


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8/24/2010 7:58:50 PM

Kenneth De Pree
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2008
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  Having recently experiencing a hard drive failure and losing many photos, I was thinking to buy an external hard drive. However, reading the user comments on Amazon and other websites, I found that a disturbingly large percentage sooner or later had the external hard drive fail. So, I signed up for a storage account with It gives me some months of free trial so I can still change my mind, but this presently seems like the safest form of backup.

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8/26/2010 11:20:34 AM

Ian M. Dewar
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/6/2005
  Hi Josh,
My belief is all options are viable and all the options have drawback. My approach using an internal drive for primary storage to get access speed, backing up to an external drive, and then backing that drive up to a second drive. I have then backed up as much as possible to DVDs, however, as file sizes grow I am saving to invest in a writable blue-ray drive. I then keep a second copy of the DVDs for truly valuable images away from the first copy. Off-site storage is certainly viable and is used by the multinational company which employs me by day to fund my photography by night.

All of these options have weaknesses. A virus on your primary drive can replicate to drive 2 and then to drive 3 and they can all be toast, thus the often stated comment, stay current with virus protection. DVDs can get lost or damaged or even lose effectiveness with age. External companies may not always be there, just ask people with frequent flier miles at PanAm.

It is personal preference; I would always recommend going with at least 2 of 3, and for the priceless images perhaps all 3. As we used to say, donít put all your eggs in one basket, but of course that was before all the eggs went bad.

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8/27/2010 1:33:21 PM

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