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Outback Photo Handbook: Backup & Archiving

Backup for Photographers: The big Picture

Under Construction

article series by Marc Rochkind and Uwe Steinmueller

Manage the Digital Workflow

Last updated 03/09/2009


There is an irony about digital photos: They actually can last without degrading forever (even improve by better imaging software) and yet they are very volatile, many bits on some storage device. To keep you images you need to be able to:

  • Find them (backup organization)
  • Read them physically (storage integrity on a technical level)
  • Read them logically (file formats, data correctness, ...)
  • Process them (All the issues of software and output devices)

Some general rules

  • Never feel over confident: all fails, hardware and software
  • Be prepared for the volume of data
  • Store all images and data on at least two different physical storage devices at any time. Better think of 3 to more copies.
  • Make backup a habit and not an afterthought

This article tries to cover the big picture to lay the groundwork for more detailed discussions in the future. It is mainly an outline of things to come.

What is Backup all about?

Threats to Your Data (read more)

  • In camera
  • In the field
  • Back in the office
  • Data corruption
  • Disk maintenance
  • Unintended deletes

The Perfect Backup Solution (read more)

Protecting Against Threats

Planning for Backup and Restoring

  • Convenience vs. Independence
  • You Need a Backup Plan
  • You Need a Restore Plan

Backup Hardware

  • FireWire and USB External Drives
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • RAID
  • Disks (Connection types: eSATA, Firewire, USB)
  • DVDs (CDs are too small these days)
  • Drobo
  • Blu Ray
  • Digital Wallets
  • Dealing with disks

Backup Software

  • Minimum Requirements for Backup Software
  • Encryption
  • OS X: In-the-Box Backup Software
    • Mac Timemachine
  • OS X: Add-On Backup Software
  • Windows Vista: In-the-Box Backup Software
  • Vista and XP: Add-On Backup Software
  • Backing up your OS
  • Data Synchronization (the delete problem)
  • Versioning

Backup locations

  • Internal disks
  • External (connected or not)
  • Different locations

Online backup services

  • Amazon S3 (and related services)
  • The bandwidth issue
  • Internet

Dealing With Threats

  • Backup for User Error, Computer Failure, and Disappearance
  • Backup for Surge
  • Backup for Office Destruction and Regional Disaster

Our Backup Plans

  • Marc's backup solution
  • Uwe's backup solution

Image Organization

  • Backup is close to useless if your images are not reasonably organized
  • How applications like Lightroom help
  • Metadata and keywords

File Formats

When to use which file format.

  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • PSD
  • RAW
  • DNG
  • XMP


We plan to cover many of these issues in smaller articles. Backup is not really a "sexy" topic but without you get either very lucky or call for disaster.

Note: We selected the title picture because doing backup always feels like a work under construction.

Outback Photo Handbook: Backup & Archiving


Marc Rochkind is the creator of ImageIngester

Manage the Digital Workflow




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