This week a good friend of mine had his car broken into and had his laptop, ipad, and back up hard drive stolen loosing everything. This is a a fears for most of us in the digital age with our whole lives centred in one place, diary, photo album, music collection, love notes, emails, and work. Hearing this first hand is the equivalent of a digital mortality check.
Backing up is important but so is separation of back ups especially when traveling. On the off chance your bag gets stolen you wont loose everything. But it’s not just the fear of theft we should be worried about it’s failure of equipment, computers and hard drives do have a tendency of stopping work, no matter what their age. I had a LaCie rugged hard drive I was using as my portable hard drive, it lasted less then a month. Clients have phoned slightly panicked to ask if I have a copy of the footage I shot for them as their drive had failed, strangely enough another LaCie Rugged drive, and yes I did have a copy.
My work flow is fairly simple for work. I tend to try and back up every card I have shot on location onto two places, usually my MacBook Pro and a bus powered external hard drive, currently a 320gb Lacie Rugged. On top of this I don’t erase the actual cards I have shot until I next need them. This gives me three copies for a period. Again I try never to have all copies in the same bag if not place. Once home I transfer the files from the Macbook Pro onto two G-Tech 1TB hard drives either manually or using Apertures Relocate Masters if I have already imported photos/video into Aperture. After this I back up the Aperture vaults. Again the footage stays on the LaCie Rugged until I need the space.
On top of all of this both Macbook and MacBook Pro have separate hard drives running Apples proprietary Time Machine backing up the system, emails, documents, invoices, music and any local work I have on the machines. This may all seem a little over kill but because of the fragility of digital files I find this a must, that and I and clients relay on secure workflow as so many things such as live events cannot be repeated.
There are of course other ways to go about preserving you digital life such as using Dropbox, cloud storage and raid dives but it is important to consider a plan and a regular one at. It doesn’t have to be expensive, a cheap USB2 hard dive will be fine and because it’s only a back up speed is not so important which can make a difference in price. The main thing is to get into a routine, if you have have it automated all the better using something Time Machine. And just remember just like death and taxes, hard drives fail.