How many backups is enough? / by Neil Alexander

Over the years I've been bitten by one too many IT failures (well more like twenty too many but that's another story) so I've honed my download and backup procedure to the point that it now requires minimum human intervention and cost and provides maximum resilience. I'm sure there are probably better and more efficient routines, but mine works just fine form me, thanks. So just how many backups are enough? Well in my opinion; if I lose one local copy, then I'd want immediate access to another local copy. If both local copies go, then I want instant access to an offsite backup too. But I want a secure offsite backup system that is automatic and provides speedy access to my data should I need it. Unfortunately this is one box I have as yet been unable to tick, so I have an extra step. But I'll outline all this below.

So my procedure is as follows:

  1. I download cards via Lightroom onto an external 2TB USB3 drive. Copying of the files themselves is generally very quick. 
  2. The conversion to DNG and the generation of the Lightroom previews takes a little longer, but whilst this is going on I kick off Chronosync which runs a cloning job to another external 2TB Western Digital SATA drive that I have sitting in a USB caddy
  3. Once this data begins to appear on the secondary backup drive, the BackBlaze application begins to upload the new images to my encrypted backup cloud service. 
  4. The problem with storing backups on the cloud is that there are now over 4TBs worth of my files up there. If I wanted it in a hurry, I'd be stuffed. So what's the extra step so that I can have almost instant access to Terabytes of backups?  I have another external USB hard drive caddy that I also clone to using Chronosync. I only do this once a week and store it in a secure location in a fireproof box within handy access of my office but in an entirely separate building (AKA the garage - it's about 25 yards from my house).

Some time ago, it became apparent that no matter how diligent I was at deleting rubbish, that 2TB of primary disk space was going to rapidly run out. So at the end of each year, I archive the year before last's files off onto my Drobo and this is also synced with BackBlaze. I found to my determinant that using a Drobo as a primary access drive was a far from reliable solution so essentially it serves as backup of a backup for my photographs and runs as a music server for the entire house. 

There you go. Simples. I have one primary working drive and 3 backups. Maybe it's overkill but it gives me peace of mind that I wouldn't have without any of the individual steps.

So that's all fine for image files I hear you say, but what about the just as critical Lightroom catalogues - what do you do with them? Well for those little nuggets of goodness, you're going to have to swing by next week…..

Oh and the images above? They were shot at Chatsworth Country Fair last year on my little (in size but big in ability) Fujifilm X-Pro 1