Backup and Backup Often

One of the mantras that I developed very early in my technology life was: “Backup and backup often.”  I have shared this mantra over and over again with clients, family and friends, and certainly live by it with my precious images.  Backup your data, your documents, and your photographs, and back it up often to make sure that if you have a data loss, and most of us already have or will, you will be able to get it all back.  I will assume that everyone knows why you should backup and that it is very important.  In this post, I will share the process that I use to back-up my 185,000 photographs as well as all of my other data fairly effortlessly.  I will start by stating that there are many ways to backup and many different products that can be used, and probably many different opinions too.  I am sharing what works for me and hope that this info may be of help.  The most important thing to remember is to “Backup and backup often.”

Wouldn’t want to lose this image!

I have structured my backup process to be effortless and easy so that it gets done.  The process that I am detailing will work for both Windows and Mac PCs.  Following are the different types of backups that I use:

  • PC
    • Bootable clone backup of the operating system and applications to a dedicated locally attached (USB or FireWire) external hard disk drive.
    • File-by-file backup of photographs, data and documents to another locally attached external hard disk drive.
    • Cloud backup of all of the files on the PC and external drives.
  • Mobile Device
    • Backup to local PC.
    • Backup photos and other critical data to local PC and cloud automatically

After being a lifetime user of Microsoft operating systems, I switched over to Mac a few years ago.  The process for both is fundamentally the same.  The backup software is different.  The cloud services are the same.  For the Mac, I am using Personal Backup by Intego, DropBox, and Backblaze.  For Windows I would recommend (but have not personally used) Acronis True Image 2018, Dropbox, and Backblaze.  Personally, I am currently backing up almost 1 million files that amount to about 3.5TB (3,500GB). 

  • PC Backup: Intego Personal Backup or Acronis True Image
    • Make a bootable clone of the operating system and applications on to a separate external drive in case an upgrade, update, or some other issue corrupts the OS or damages the internal hard drive resulting in the PC not able to boot. With the cloned drive, the PC can be booted from the external drive.
      • In my case, my boot drive on the iMac is a 250GB SSD drive that only contains the OS and application files.  My 2nd internal drive is 1TB and contains some of my data and documents.  All of my images are on a separate external hard disk drive which is then backed up to another external hard disk drive.  I manually run the backup on the boot drive after every major upgrade and about every week or two.
    • I recommend a file-by-file backup of documents, data and photographs to another external hard disk drive, or multiple hard disk drives. I like this type of backup for data and photographs because the files exist on the external drives in the same format and structure as they do on the primary drive and do not require any software to restore them in the event of any type of issue.  The drive can be easily connected to another PC if the need should arise.  If a file is deleted or changed inadvertently (I have done this too many times) the original still exists on the backup drive and can be easily copied back to the primary drive using the standard file copy procedures.
      • In my case, I use the 2nd internal drive on my PC for traditional documents and data and another separate dedicated external hard disk drive (6TB) for all of my image files.  The image files are then backed up to a separate 6TB drive.
    • Most PC backup software will automatically run each of the backup routines but you will need to leave your PC in sleep mode to do so. If you shut down your PC, I found that the automated scripts get a bit confused.  So, I actually run the scripts manually which is easy to do.  I will run a backup of the OS about every 2 weeks or after a major update and on the image files after I have uploaded images from my camera and/or once per week.


  • Backblaze is a cloud backup service that automatically backs up all of the files on all of the disks to a safe and secure offsite location. I use and recommend this service for disaster recovery. What’s amazing about Backblaze is that the number of files and data is unlimited for a very low price – $99 for 2 years.  As of this writing, I have almost 1 million files backed up to the cloud.  Backblaze checks all of the hard drives that are selected for backup when the PC is turned on and automatically backs up the files that have changed or have been added.  The only drawback to keep in mind is that the initial backup takes a bit of time to upload and full restores will take just as long to download.  In the event that a full restore is needed, Backblaze is able to send a completely restored flash drive or external drive for an additional reasonable fee.  Downloading a small number of files is relatively fast and easy.
    • In my case, my boot drive, my document drives, and all of my image files are backed up to Backblaze.  The initial upload of about 2TB took about a month.  I simply left my PC on until the upload was finished.  Since then, it quickly uploads every time I copy additional images from my camera to the PC.  If something happens, I am confident that I will be able to reconstruct all of my applications and data on to new equipment. I have been backing up for about 3 years to Backblaze.


  • Dropbox – Since I use this service for many different applications, I pay $99 per year for 1TB of cloud storage. I use Dropbox for not only sharing files and images with friends and clients and for easy access to documents from my iPhone or iPad, I also use it for automatically backing up my iPhone images.  There is a free 2GB version which can be used to backup images and other data.  Image files are saved to Dropbox in the cloud and to the Dropbox “Camera Uploads” folder on the PC. These files can be easily moved to the same locations as the other image files on your PC and get backed up by the PC backup software and then to the cloud.  Once moved over, they can be deleted from the Camera Uploads folder to make room for more photos, unless you choose to pay for the additional storage space.  Another option would be to use iCloud but for my purposes, I found that this process works best for my workflow and the way that I use my images, and is much easier and straightforward to use.


  • iPhone/iPad – I backup my iPhone and iPad to my PC through iTunes, sometimes hardwired and sometimes via WiFi. This backup is then backed up to the local drives using the backup software on the PC and then to the cloud.  I have turned off the iCloud backup.  It was always barking at me.


  • Laptop – backing up images while traveling: I use a desktop PC while at home with a large screen (iMac) and a laptop (MacBook Pro) while traveling.  Since I take lots of photographs while traveling, I am very cautious about not losing any of the images.  So, here is what I do:
    • If I am shooting with my iPhone, I make sure that my images are backed up to DropBox via the hotel’s WiFi internet connection, not via the cell data connection.
    • For my cameras, I take along enough memory cards to last the whole trip without having to delete any images off of the cards. I shoot in RAW format which results in very large files.  So, I take along about 96GB worth of memory cards on 5 different cards.
    • Every night, I upload the images from that day to my laptop. I will quickly work on the images while traveling but usually nothing permanent that I want to save.
    • Every night, I file-by-file backup the same images to an external hard disk drive that I brought along. I usually simply drag and drop the images.
    • At this point, there are 3 copies of the files.
    • When traveling, my laptop and camera memory cards will be in the same bag. The external hard disk drive will be in a different bag.
    • When I return home, I upload the memory cards to my PC and do not erase the files off of the laptop or the external hard drive unless I need the space-just in case.
    • I will then run the PC Backup program and leave the PC on for the cloud service to backup.


I hope this info helps.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need help in setting up your backup process.  Please visit


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