As a wedding photographer, losing a client’s photos before I can deliver them gives me nightmares.

When you consider the time, effort, and let’s face it, money, that goes into a wedding day, and the fact that the photos I take are the only record of that for prosperity, then you’ve got the perfect recipe for disaster if your photos are not safely backed up.

Wedding days are a little more critical than, say, a family shoot that can be repeated if the photos are lost. But nevertheless, whoever your clients are, it’s your duty to make sure those files are safe.

Setting up a 3-2-1 backup strategy for photos

Using a 3-2-1 backup strategy is a good rule of thumb to ensure your photos are protected against data loss. What it means is this: for every file, you need to maintain three copies, two on-site (on different media or devices), one off-site. 3-2-1: Makes sense, right?

Start with two copies on-site

The two on-site usually looks like one copy on your computer’s hard drive, and a second copy on a backup drive. Use a synchronization program such as SyncBack Pro to automate backing up your primary hard drive to your backup hard drive. Sync programs scan the primary drive for changes and only copy over new or changed files, for an efficient and quick backup.

Next, maintain one copy off-site

The one off-site copy used to be a “physically carried away and stored somewhere else” situation, but nowadays we have cloud storage to provide convenient off-site storage. There are a myriad of services you can set up to back your photos up to the cloud (stay tuned for my next article on this!) but my favorite is IDrive, which is both convenient and great value for the vast quantities of space required by my photo hard drive.

Scheduling your backups

You should backup your photos on a consistent schedule. That might mean daily, weekly or fortnightly, depending on how frequently you shoot. If you shoot on a camera with dual card slots, make it a professional policy to never wipe the backup card until you have backed up the files on your computer.  

Also, make it a habit to disconnect your backup drive from your computer in between backups. That way if your computer gets infected by a virus, or worse, ransomware, your backup hard drive will be safe.

Maintaining backups long term

Depending on the kind of clients you serve, you’ll likely want to keep a backup of files for a predetermined time: Two years, five years or longer. After that, you might clear out your archive — but keep the hero shots for your portfolio.

Whatever your archive policy is, make it clear to clients from the outset, and remind them to back up their photos after you have delivered them, too! That way, you’ll avoid disappointments down the track caused by data loss.