Workflow: Managing Backups

Because your digital images are your raw materials, they are very precious! Before digital technology it was very difficult for photographers to backup their work. It would have meant laboriously copying each image and then storing the copies somewhere safe. In the digital world making a backup is very quick and simple. There is no reason to lose your work with the computer tools currently available!

The Simplest Method

The simplest solution is just to have an external hard drive and to periodically copy all of your work onto this drive. Then, if your main computer fails, you can go back to your copy and recover your work. Of course, this is only really useful if you make regular copies of your work.

The problem with this simple approach is that you can end up with many different copies of your files, so you need to ensuer you can identify the latest copy of your backup files.

File Synchronization

A better solution is to use some file synchronization software. In this case you have your main working copy of your files on your computer and a second backup copy of your files. When you want to make a backup, the software compares the working copy with the backup copy and only copies those files that have changed since you last made a copy. This is much quicker than copying everything each time.

Wikipedia have a comprehensive comparison of file synch tools here.

As you see, there are a number of programs that you can use, some of them free, some of them commercial products.

Microsoft have a free application called SyncToy, a lot of people use this, and you can download it here.

The tool that I use is called File Synchronizer, it's free and you can download it here.

File synchronization software will certainly be good enough to keep safe copies of all your digital assets.

Backup Software

Full-on backup software is the most comprehensive solution. This can be set up to run automatically at regular intervals, and it can usually perform a variety of different types of backup depending on how your data changes over time. Whereas file synchronization can only really be applied to the data files on your computer, a backup can cover every single aspect of your software setup including your operating system, all your programs and all your data. This strategy is frequently employed in commercial settings to ensure that a PC can be recreated from scratch if there is a disaster.

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