Why you should Always Backup your Data

Backup Backup and More Backup

The most basic defense against data loss is having a backup. For my personal files at home I do not use any of the many cloud-based services that are offered like Carbonite, Crashplan or Google. I know they have come down in price and are relatively cheap these days but I do the most simple of backups and it all hinges on my own OCD when it comes to protecting my data. Also, my backup is not automatic as it relies on my own manual intervention which is probably one of the first “no nos” when it comes to backing up your files.

I bought my first digital camera in 1998, a 2 mega-pixel Olympus, and have never looked back when it comes to using film. It was the simplest of cameras and I still own it. The first time someone showed me how they could take a picture, instantly look at it on the screen, and either save it or delete, I was hooked.  This led to me taking up photography as a semi-serious hobby for quite some time. I would walk around on my lunch hour in Manhattan (midtown) and take photos of anything that caught my attention for any reason. My photos revolved around “people” as opposed to “things” and I mostly looked for anything that had humor or comedic value.  Most of the time this was done on the sly so documenting these moments in time became a real challenge.

Since there are no negatives for digital cameras my first thought was to always copy the files to my computer. I quickly realized that if my hard drive crashed or my computer was stolen, all of my photos would be gone, especially kids birthday photos, christenings, first day of school and high school graduations.  So early on I made use of external hard drives. There are so many to choose from and connecting the USB cable and power to these devices made it ideal.  The average computer user would never open up a computer and add a second hard drive internally so external hard drives was the way to go for me. External hard drives can also crash so I would have to have two external drives connected via a USB cable each. I would download all of my photos to one drive and then when I went thru what I wanted to keep and delete I would just manually copy that folder to the second external USB hard drive. Over the years the hard drives would get bigger and bigger and I would eventually need to get larger drives, Maxtor, Seagate, Western Digital, there are many to choose from. I’ll never forget, a friend of mine that moved to Florida used to send me photos of events that he attended.  Back then it was a novel idea to email photos and since social media did not really exist, there was no FaceBook when it came to showing your friends, but there was email. One day after his hard drive crashed, he was in the unenviable position of asking me to send him back all the emails he sent me of any of his events that he had sent. Do you think I had any to send back??? No.

I realize there are also programs that can sync hard drives eliminating some of the grunt work but I have been doing this for so many years, it has become a part of my computer existence and second nature.  At one point I even had 3 external hard drives of identical data. One was my main drive and the other 2 were the so-called copies.  As older drives got full, I would take them out of rotation and store them in the back of closet somewhere. Currently I am up to using two, 4 terabyte drives that have what I believe to be duplicate data of all my data and precious photos going back to 1998.  There are over 150,000 photos on each of these 2 drives.

You may ask the question, “what if I have a flood or a fire in my house?” Since all the drives are in my home, it would all potentially be gone. I have not done this yet, but a fireproof safe with some external drives in them would fix that problem, however, my offsite backup is my office where I work.  So it appears I may have all my bases covered at this time, multiple backups (in one location) and a fairly recent backup offsite. The only cost of my backups is the cost of the hardware devices. Since I have multiple computers, these external USB drives can connect to any of them so I am not as concerned about preserving my actual computer and operating system, it is a non-issue.  None of my photos are indexed or searchable but I do have all folders in order by year, 1998, 1999, 2000 and then under that I have them broken down by month using 01, 02, for January, February etc, so the folders are in order as well.  Now since all of my photo taking is done with my phone I still continue the process the same way.

In the 24 years that I have been doing this, the biggest challenge in finding a photo is, “hmm, was that photo in 2004, 2005 or 2006?” and I would have to visually go thru the folders to find what I am looking for. This has also given me the ability to take my backups into my own hands and not have to rely on a process that I think is running in the background and then later finding out that it is not. I have my photos and do not have to ask my friend to email me back all the photos I sent him over the years in case of an emergency.



Written By: Vincent Rodriguez 

Posted on: 9/20/21