Ummmm no I am not talking about a dance move! I am talking external hard drives. Not anywhere near as sexy as the dance I had in my mind, but still kinda hot none-the-less. No let’s get serious, if you are a professional photographer or just a novice weekend warrior it is important to back up your hard work. Let me tell you a fun little story that really drove the lesson of backing up files home.
I was very new in the industry, I had photographed my second wedding and had picked up my business license and set up an account through the PPA. This specific detail will be come relevant shortly. I was really excited and knew this was going to be my future. At the time I was working off of a 2TB external drive and I had, at the time, my life work saved on that hard drive. Rushing to get to a shoot, I snatched the cord from the external drive out of the computer and when I got home to download my images, the drive wasn’t recognized to the computer. I scoured every YouTube video I could find on how to fix this, what had to be basic issue, and the more I researched the more I sat there sweating bullets, realizing I had done damage to the drive and it was now; cue music, violins, tears, and snot bubbles; corrupted. No, I really sat there crying thinking about the hell fire that was about to reign down on my life. I imagined repossessed cars and houses and me and my family begging on the streets after loosing everything in lawsuits. I really thought dinner was coming up, but me always being the thinker I thought let me call PPA and find out how I can not end up “literally” backing it up to pay for the lawsuits I was sure to come. Now mind you, I was new and my client base was still very small at the time, but the panic was so so real.
After speaking to the PPA the next morning, and trust me I was probably their first call, I learned I actually had attorneys, but more importantly then anything, I had a data recovery team. I sent the hard drives in, and sent that dreaded email to clients, like the five I had, letting them know about the situation and advising them that the drive was with a data recovery team. I was so absolutely blessed that my clients responded and appreciated my honesty, and like myself were on pins and needles waiting to see if data recovery would be able to recover the files. Not even a week later, I received my answer, all the files were recoverable and they mailed me out a new hard drive with all of my images on it. I can’t tell you that was the happiest email I ever had written in my life. Yes my story has a happy ending, but so many of my colleagues don’t have the same ending. While waiting for the data recovery team to get back to me, I took time to research every single hard drive company, and how to properly secure and store my images and here are a few things I have learned and practice:
- Back up in three or more places. I currently use three places, two externals and one on my computer. I know others who also add a 4th and back up online, in a cloud based gallery.
- Never remove your external hard drive from your computer without properly ejecting from the computer, it is an extra step but it will save your drive from corrupting.
- Make sure to store your external drives in a safe place. For some that may mean a fire proof safe, or a good hiding place in case your home is ever compromised.
- When traveling with your drive, make sure to not bounce it around, store it in a safe tight space to avoid extra movemet
- Make sure to properly label folders and files, to ensure they are not mixed up with other files