Best Professional Photographers Backup Solution for Digital Files

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DS1515 photography backup solution plan
Image Synology.com

We all have come across someone who has lost data due to not having a Data Backup Solution for digital files. As your business and data grow you must employ a strategy to back up all of your photos and data files quickly and cheaply with relative ease.

We will go through the steps to show you how you can have a Simple Cheap 3 or 4 tier system to Backup your Professional Photographs and have an easy Data Recovery system in place just in case something goes terribly wrong.

3 Tier Backup Solutions

  1. Have a local backup on your computer – External Disk Drive as a minimum
  2. Use a Network Attached Storage or Multiple External Hard Disk Drives
  3. Cloud Storage online.

As the Network Specialist Expert for my wife’s Photography Business, I jumped at the chance to set up a fully functional Backup plan for all of her Photos from scratch.  To meet the “3-2-1” backup strategy goals you will need 3 copies of every single file. That’s thousands and thousands of images. With each of her RAW and JPEG files from her 5D Mark iii being in excess of 20 meg each it can quickly add up to a large amount of space needed. Backing up a Wedding is super very important.

Get those files off the SD or CF card as soon as you get home and onto an HDD. The 5D mark iii has a backup card slot to help with redundancy.

Plan your Data Backup System

The first step is to work out how much data you will net to have backed up and plan for an ever-expanding array of Files, Photos, and Data.

If you haven’t already done so go out and buy an External Hard Disk Drive and start to back up the files you need on your computer. Maybe even get 2 External HDD and leave on at work or a friend’s place for a short-term solution. Swap them around every week or so. RAID drives, Apple Time Capsules, or data duplication machines like the Drobo are options.

If you are Mac user you will need to use Apple’s Disk Utility tool to prepare any new hard drives using the HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) file structure. Windows users may need to format their new backup drives using the NTFS file structure. Windows users with hard drives that are larger than 2 terabytes, should also need to convert their new disks to the GUID partition table before they can do anything else.

If you need to clone a hard drive Samsung make some great cloning software if migrating to an SSD.

Naming Structure Backup Hard Disk Drives

Don’t forget to rename your disk drives to something that you will know and makes sense. It makes life easy when you go to your computer and see a disk called “Backup 1” rather than just say “F Drive”. To rename a disk in Windows its as simple as just right-clicking the disk and select rename. Type in the name and press enter.

NAS Drives for Photographers

Many Professional Photographers need access to their Photos at any given time be it at home or away on a location shoot. We decided that a NAS drive was essential to implement a cheap backup solution system fast.

Network-attached storage is the first step in achieving 100% redundancy of your photos. There are many different type of NAS drive companies out there so who to choose?

I can recommend going with one of the bigger NAS drive storage companies out there. The top 3 in my opinion that have great support and reliability are

Synology, Qnap, and Drobo

They all  have a huge range of NAS storage solutions starting from 2 bay right up to 12 bays +

So which NAS drive is right for you? This is a personal preference but think of the future and buy one with the features and storage you will need.

I originally started out with a 2 bay Synology NAS drive in my early years for simple home storage but quickly found out that this is limited to expand-ability and storage size for Professional Photographers with huge data storage needs. The Synology Disk Station DS1019 is a 5 Bay NAS that which can be expanded as your business grows with larger hard drives.


Explaining Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID)

There are several variations of RAID available, but the four most common are:

  • RAID 0 = No redundancy (max size)
  • RAID 1 = Mirrored (50% total size)
  • RAID 5 = Spanned across multiple drives (60–80% of total capacity), 1 drive can fail
  • RAID 6 = Same as RAID 5 but 2 drives can fail
  • Synology Hybrid RAID – Synologys Raid Simple Structure Backup Solution

Auto Backup NAS Drives

All your backup solutions should happen automatically. Once configured properly, it is my backup utilities software job to “clone,” or “mirror,” everything that I store on my primary disk or files to copy over to one of the backup NAS drives at least once per day. Good backup software makes this task simple and easy.

We use  EaseUs Todo Backup Workstation for its great speed and ease of use. They have a free version if you want to check it out before purchasing.

Online Cloud Backup Solution

Paid and Free online storage is becoming a very popular business with large data centers popping up around the Globe to take care of our thirst for online backup storage solutions. Many of these let you send in a seed drive to get the ball rolling fast so you don’t have to spend 1 month uploading your 2TB of photos.

Some can also send you a fast drive back if something goes wrong so you don’t have to download everything in one hit. It can be a faster option in some cases and can be a problem with data caps in some countries.

Check out some of the great online storage companies below. They are all paid services but some offer simple free accounts.

Paid Cloud Online Backup Services

  • SpiderOakONEDrive – Strong privacy features. Unlimited computers allowed on an account. File-syncing included. Great customization options for backups.
  • CrashPlan – Simple Polished interface. Backs up to your own remote computers. Unlimited storage plan. Fast file processing. Email Updates
  • SOS Online Backup – Easy simple interface. Fast online backup. All files and file versions archived, never deleted. Mobile apps. It can back up external and network drives. Facebook backup.
  • SugarSync – Extremely easy to use. More intuitive than many other file-syncing services. Can save a couple of versions of files when they change.
  • OpenDrive – Unlimited devices. Great Web interface with drag /drop capability. Custom storage plans.
  • EMC MozyHome – Easy to use. Very straight forward restore options. Apps for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.
  • Acronis True Image Cloud – Lovely clean interface. Fast upload speed. Local and cloud backup. Full Hard Disk image backup and restore. File syncing.  Unlimited cloud storage.
  • Backblaze – A true set-it-and-forget-it online backup service that is good for novices, It’s what I use daily.
  • Carbonite – Great guided setup. Unlimited online backup storage for one PC. Shows backed up files in File Explorer. Ultra-safe security key option.
  • IDrive – Easy setup. Unlimited devices in one account. Continuous backup option. Disk image backup. File Explorer integration. Folder syncing. File archiving.

Free Cloud Online Backup Services

If you have Amazon Prime they give free unlimited Cloud storage for image files. That includes raw files. Takes about 4 days to upload a wedding shoot. Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive are more of a simple online file storage and not meant to be a full Photo Backup Solution.

I do like that Google photos app can save a backup of your phones photos online for free and it is unlimited if you let google compress the image.

Data Recovery

So what to do if you have no backups and your Hard Drive, Camera SD or Compact Flash card dies? Check out EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard which is Free.

I have personally used Recuva which is free fast and great for Photos. Sometimes you may have to try a few programs as some are better than others for different file types.

Final Thoughts and Photo Backup Setup

In the end, I went with the Synology DS1515 with 3Tb in each slot it was on sale as it was runout stock. (The DS1517 is its replacement now with better specs.) It was slightly expensive to set up but it’s expandable in the future to 4TB or 8TB Drives. You could put in smaller 2TB to keep your cost down in the beginning. With weekly Photos being added which can be in excess of 32GB Hard Drives can quickly fill up.

This is backed to with  EaseUs Todo Backup Workstation for auto seamless integration. Synology has its own backup software like Cloud Station Backup and Cloud Station Drive, but I was already used to EaseUs Todo Backup so I chose to stick with it.

I have 2x 4TB external Seagate drives that rotate every few weeks between work and home. Just in case the house burns down.

Finally, there is the online BackBlaze setup for very important files and photos.

Top 5 Nas Drives for Photographers 5 Bay (best redundancy) – Amazon links

Synology Disk Station 5-Bay Network Attached Storage (DS1019)

QNAP TX-500P 5-Bay

Drobo 5D3 Network Attached Storage – Base only

TerraMaster D5-300C NAS Server 5-Bay RAID Storage for Small/Medium Business (Diskless)

NETGEAR ReadyNAS 5-Bay Diskless Network Attached Storage Expansion Chassis for RN300/500/600 Series (EDA500-100NAS)

It is slightly expensive to first set up, but just think of it as another PC. What is the value of lost photos? Like any expense, it’s necessary, and hey you can claim it all back on your tax.

 Best Budget Backup Solutions for Photographers 2 Bay

As some of these top-notch products are out of reach for the budget photographer I thought why not cater to the just starting out photographer or home user.

synology DJS216j diskstation for home photographer
Click for more information from Amazon

Synology still ranks the best for low-end cheap NAS drives.

A two-bay NAS from Synology is cheap and affordable with easy user instructions.

I would recommend the Synology 2Bay Disk-station it’s a piece of mind. Just make sure to factor in two Hard Disk drives, to place in the disk-station. You can choose any size HDD. Just make sure they are the same size.

  • Able to view your files on the go with ios or android apps
  • Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-Core 1.5GHz 2MB CPU;
  • 6GB DDR3L Synology SDRAM;
  • 4TB (2 x 2TB) 6Gb/s SATA 3.5 Inch HDDs for High Capacity Storage;
  • 2 x RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port (with Link Aggregation / Failover support);
  • 3 x USB 3.0 Port; 1 x eSATA Port

Let me know below what you use for your Data recovery and File backup solution

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