It’s Happened to All of Us…
You plug in your external hard drive and wait for it to pop up on your computer. You wait and wait, but it never shows up. Your heart starts to race: there’s important documents on this hard drive! Client photos, years of weddings, all of your marketing materials…gone. Okay — maybe it wasn’t THAT dramatic when it happened to you, but I think it’s safe to say that most people have some version of this happen to them. If you’ve experienced data loss before, you know that it is a terrible feeling. That’s why you need to make sure you are backing up everything twice! Even if you’re at a place in your business where you think you can’t afford a good backup system — you need to be investing in this. Let me tell you why.
It Happened to Me…
The first time I experienced data loss was in college during finals week. My (internal) hard drive crashed on my computer. As a photography major, I had tons of photo and video projects that were gone. Luckily, I had already turned in all of my assignments. I only lost a few months of client images, and fortunately I had kept a lot of those sessions on my SD cards. I can’t tell you how lucky I was — I would have failed a few classes if that had happened one day earlier. The funny thing was I tried to complete a backup the night before my computer crashed. I had this weird feeling that something bad was going to happen, and I tried to back it all up. Unfortunately, I ended up losing data because the backup never completed.
…Then It Happened Again
You’d think I would have learned from that first experience…unfortunately not. Fast forward to last summer. I was 1.5 years into my business and told myself I had no money to invest in another hard drive or a cloud backup system. I figured the one I had would hold me over until I had extra cash to get backup drive. One day I’m working on a catalog, and my hard drive ends up crashing to the floor. I quickly grabbed it up and tried to plug it back in. Nothing. My heart sank as I heard a clicking sound coming from the drive. I knew what happened, and I frantically started searching for someone who could fix it.
I reluctantly ended up heading to Best Buy. Honestly, I don’t like their customer service because it always feels like nobody knows what I’m talking about. They took a look at the drive, said it’d be at least $1,000 to do a recovery, and they’d have to send it off for a few weeks. Then they said I would still have to pay that amount if they weren’t able to recover anything! It seemed completely ridiculous to me.
I ended up looking for alternatives. I found a local shop that was able to do it in-house within 2 days for $600. They were also able to tell that at least most of the data was recoverable. If it wasn’t able to be recovered, I’d only have to pay a small fraction of that cost (I think *maybe* it was $100). I took my chances, and somehow, they were able to recover pretty much everything. I couldn’t believe it! Seriously — there were tears…lots and lots of tears. I, again, got really lucky, but it came at a huge cost this time. Instead of paying $120 for a backup hard drive, I spent $600 to recover it, then $120 for a brand new hard drive. Of course, then I spent more money on backup drives after that. Oh, the irony!
Invest in a Good Hard Drive
Needless to say after all of that, my backup system looks completely different now. Since I’m mainly backing up personal photos, documents, and business documents, I currently use 3 different hard drives. They include one 2-TB Seagate External hard drive, one 1-TB Seagate External hard drive, and one 4-TB WD My Book desktop drive. My 4-TB desktop drive now permanently stays in my safe. It has personal pictures and files on it dating back to 2012, so I don’t want to lose those images again! My 2-TB external drive serves as a backup to that drive. Since I use my laptop a lot, I use that one whenever I need to access older documents or images. My 1-TB external drive is for traveling. So if I’m traveling and need to backup images that I don’t have room for on my computer, they go on that hard drive.
My system still isn’t perfect, but it works for now. I can also rest easy knowing that I have everything backed up in multiple locations. If you’re a photographer, you may want to look into more extensive systems in case a hard drive does crash. I would recommend having at least one hard drive, and an cloud backup system in place. Losing a client’s images would be terrible, especially if it’s a wedding day! Don’t make my mistake. Don’t make excuses that will cost you even more down the road. If you have a camera, lenses, and all of the other expensive equipment, you can invest in small hard drive (that’s cheap in comparison!).