Let's Talk Cloud Backup
Last week, Walter Rowe posted a fantastic article on his photo workflow, which of course included backup. It's a great read, and if you haven't seen it yet, please do check it out. It's definitely more for the intermediate to advanced user though, and terms like “rsync in the terminal” are likely to scare the bejeezus out of many users. Walter mentions cloud backup and even states why he doesn't use it himself — basically he says he's impatient :-) — however as a working pro myself, I wanted to chime in for why it does work, and is a great idea for even heavy shooting photographers.
I've written about this many times. I won't go into all the same details as before, because frankly nothing's changed, but I do want to reiterate a few points. For those who want to dig into the previous articles, click [Backblaze] to view all Backblaze articles, and [Backup] to see all backup articles (if you're wondering, those keywords are slowly being added to old posts… we're working on automating that process and getting all the old posts keyworded!)
Here's why you should start backing up to the cloud today
I prefer Backblaze, but they aren't the only game in town. They are, however, the only game I've been using successfully for many, many years. Here's why you should start your cloud backup today, regardless of what system you use.
- Your initial backup could take weeks or even months (or more!) if you have several TB of data and/or low bandwidth. Start today, and you're a day, a week, a month closer to a complete offsite backup. That said, your initial backup may take a lot less time than you think.
- Are your photos at home? What does your expensive bandwidth do all day long while you're at work and no one is watching Netflix? Put it to work!
- Are your photos at the office? What does your expensive bandwidth do all night while you're sleeping?
- Even if you already have one or more backups at home (i.e. Time Machine), if your house burns down, or thieves liberate you of all your gear, your backup will go the way of your original. Offsite backup is critical. Never underestimate the importance of that.
- Even if you already store drives offsite, you still have the risk of losing data between those drive swaps (how often do you really update that hard drive stored in your bank's safety deposit box? Once a week? Month? Do you remember when you last did?).
- Also… unless your offsite backup drives are stored far, far away, they could be at the same risk as ones in your house. Remember Katrina? Sandy? Northridge earthquake? Fukushima nuclear disaster? Entire cities were wiped out. The drive stored in your mom's house across town may not be any safer than the one in your basement.
- Concerned you shoot too much and will never get caught up? You'd be amazed at what can happen over a weekend or while you're away on vacation for a week or two. Yes it may take time to get fully backed up — but you'll get there eventually. See bullet #1.
- The peace of mind you'll gain once it's done — heck, even once it's started — is invaluable.
- It's cheap. Really cheap.
Some tips to getting started
If you have a massive archive and/or a slow connection, you may want to get an immediate offsite backup, then prioritize what gets backed up online first. Here's some ideas on how to get started.
- If you don't already have a backup, copy your Aperture Library (and all your Originals if you're working referenced) to another drive and get it out of your house (you can get a 3TB USB drive from Amazon right now for just over $100). Ship the backup to a trusted friend as far away from you as possible. At least that way if disaster strikes tomorrow, you have your photos. If disaster strikes a month from now, and your initial cloud backup hasn't completed, at least you only lost a month of data. That's assuming you don't update the backup, of course. Better than nothing, right? Right.
- Once you start running Backblaze, you can exclude certain items, or even entire folders, from backup. So you could basically exclude everything but your Aperture Library and Originals. That will at least prioritize them. Once those are done, allow it to backup the rest of your system.
- You could upload versions of your favorite photos to a private archive on flickr for free. Everyone gets a free TB of data there. That's a lot of low resolution JPEGs, or even full resolution ones. Sure those aren't your originals, but they are better than nothing, and will upload quickly.
Just do it
Backups are critical. Offsite backup is critical. Backblaze has been developed and tested specifically for Aperture libraries. Just do it.
Check out the screenshot below… that's my system. There's 8GB left because I did a big edit that created several GB of files to backup last week. Of course those are already backed up locally… and within a few days at most, they'll be on Backblaze, too.