Backup Solutions For Photos And Videos

In the era of digital photography, we can't overlook the idea of data backup. I am working as an IT professional for over 12 years now and I couldn't emphasize more on the importance of data backup. In my professional career, I implement multiple layers of backups and disaster recovery systems to protect the company data. The data we work with and the storing methods for those data have changed a lot over the years. We used to deal with Megabytes and Gigabytes of data, which have now changed to Terabytes and Petabytes. High resolution images, 4K and Ultra 4K HD videos are becoming normal with the increasing popularity of smartphones and advanced cameras. These high quality files are helping us to be more creative but managing them is becoming a problem.

Back in the days of film photography, we could only take a certain number of pictures per roll. Also, we would have to keep the negative as a backup for the future production. But digital photography has changed the way we take pictures and the way we store them. We can now take unlimited number of pictures without ever getting worried about the space on the camera memory. Even if the memory is full, we can download them on a computer within a few minutes and make it available for the shooting immediately. Given the number of files we capture during one shooting, I think its time to think about the proper backup solution so that we don’t lose the pictures because of the memory crash or the computer hard-disk failure. If you are working on time sensitive projects, the worst thing that can happen is lose all of the photographs that you have taken for the clients because of the electronics malfunction. Now, you may argue that even our backup device or the service may fail and we may lose the data. In short, yes it can happen, but, having a multiple backups is obviously a better idea than storing your pictures on a single memory card or rely on your computer hard-disk only. The chances of failing multiple devices at the same time are very very low, and also, there are few strategies you can implement to decrease that chance to virtually zero.

One of the simple and cost effective strategy you can follow is the use of two kinds of backup solutions and they are: on-premise backup and cloud backup.

1. On-Premise backup solution

This is a traditional backup system where you buy a backup media and keep a copy your data into the external device as well. Even this traditional backup system has evolved in many ways and provides a robust and cost effective backup solution. You can use a single hard-disk, Western Digital external hard-disk for example, and store your data into the drive. You can also use a backup solution that implements RAID technology, which utilizes two or more hard-disks and let you choose to copy the data into multiple disks simultaneously. You can use a NAS (network-attached storage) device from QNAP if you want to use multiple hard-disks, which are configured in RAID, as your backup device. There are multiple versions of RAID technology and you can select the one that meets your need. Let’s say you purchased a QNAP device that has at least three hard-disks and configured them in RAID 1, QNAP copies the data into the first and the second disk and keeps the third as a spare disk. If one of those two initial disks fails, it copies the data from the working disk to the third disk and maintains the mirroring of the data across two drives all the time. Personally, I have been using WD external hard drive and use iMac's Time Machine to backup my entire iMac. And professionally, I have been using QNAPs for more than 10 years, and I absolutely love their products.

QNAP TR-004 with four hard disk bays; need to buy hard-disks separately (If you want to know more technical details about the product, please  contact me .)

QNAP TR-004 with four hard disk bays; need to buy hard-disks separately (If you want to know more technical details about the product, please contact me.)

Pros

  • One time limited investment and there is no recurring fee.

  • You are in charge of your data and the chance of data being stolen (by hackers) is virtually zero.

  • Relatively a cheaper solution.

Cons

  • Single point of failure (external device may crash).

  • Your backup device might get lost or stolen.

2. Cloud backup solution

Another solution, which is being really popular recently, is a Software as a Solution (SaaS) service, also known as cloud service. When you use a cloud backup service, you need to install a small program (provided by the company of your choice) which creates a folder into your computer. After the program is installed and the folder is created, you can create a folder structure within the root folder and start coping your data into them. Once you copy your files into those folders, it will automatically upload them (as long as the computer is connected to the internet) to the service provider’s backup server. The basic workflow would be - You would purchase their monthly or yearly subscription for a certain number of Gigabytes (GB) or Terabytes (TB) and store your data by uploading them into their server. Now, it's the responsibility of those companies to take care of your data and the backup system.

Here is the list of few well-known cloud based backup service providers and their monthly/yearly subscription fee.

Dropbox Google Drive/Onedrive Microsoft Onedrive Apple iCloud
Free upto 2GB 15GB 5GB 5GB
Subscripton fee 1TB-$9.99/month or $99.00/year 100GB-$1.99/month or $19.99/year, 200GB-$2.99/month or $29.99/year, 2TB-$9.99/month or $99.99/year, and also has options for 10TB, 20TB and 30TB space 50GB-$1.99/month and 1TB-$6.99/month or $69.99/year 50GB-$0.99/month, 200GB-$2.99/month, 2TB-$9.99/month

Pros

  • You don't have to worry about the backup device failure.

  • You don't have to worry about losing your backup device.

  • Company who provides the backup service maintains multiple backups which avoids single point of failure.

  • You can access your data from anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet.

Cons

  • An expensive solution because of the recurring monthly/yearly fee.

  • You have to rely on the company’s integrity and the security system to protect your data.

  • May require a high-speed internet to upload and download high resolution photos and videos.