How to backup your photos

Posted by on Jun 9, 2013 in Equipment Guides | 0 comments

How to backup your photos

We take a lot of photos these days, and this is not going to stop, our lives are recorded in images of our family, our friends, our pets and the places we have been.  In the days of film we kept the negatives in their plastic sleeves to keep them safe and these were not something thieves were interested in.  But these days our photos are digital and stored on our computers, laptops and external hard-drives which thieves will happily re-purpose for their own use.  So how do we protect them?


In the shade of the Mountain by Tony White 1/125sec @ F11, ISO 400 168mm

In the shade of the Mountain by Tony White
1/125sec @ F11, ISO 400 168mm

Well this is not about protecting our equipment from being stolen, it is about protecting our photos from being lost if disaster strikes and something happens to the equipment where our photos are stored.  Think about it, there are plenty of other things that could happen the that hard-drive with your precious photos on it – a lightning strike could hit nearby and cause it to fry the electrics, a fire could happen, storms and floods as we have seen on occasion or the hard-drive could just fail as they have been known to do.  There are all sorts of things that could occur that will potentially leave you bereft of your photos.

Pink Sunrise by Tony White 30secs @ F11, ISO 100, 46mm

Pink Sunrise by Tony White
30secs @ F11, ISO 100, 46mm

So how do you protect against this assortment of disasters?  Your aim should be to create 3 copies of you images.  The first copy is will be your working copy, the copy you make when you copy the photos from the memory cards, the photos you edit, share and show to family and friends.  This first copy might be on your computer’s hard-drive your it might on an external hard-drive.

Now for the second copy, for this I recommend that you have another external hard-drive and create a copy of your photos onto this.  Now there are a numerous ways you can do this.  As I like to have control, the method I use, is with the software SyncBackFree from 2BrightSparks.  This program is fairly straightforward, after installing it you will need to create a new profile to copy the files from one hard-drive to the backup external hard-drive. NewProfile

Make sure you give the profile a relevant name, just encase you decide to use other profiles for backing up other stuff and then click next.

NewProfile-1Make sure you choose Backup as the type of profile, then click next.

NewProfile-2Leave the source and destination types as “Internal/external drive, network path etc.”, you will get to choose the source and destination next, just click done.


Click ok to continue configuring the backup profile.

NewProfile-4Here is where you can choose your source and destination by clicking the little yellow folders next to the source and destination button’s.

NewProfile-5After choosing the source and destination folders there is one last thing to change, click on “Decisions – Files”.

NewProfile-6Here I recommend that you change the option for “What to do if a file exists on Destination but not on Source” to “Delete file from Destination if it hasn’t been modified within the last 0 days”.  This will remove the file from the backup if you delete it from you local hard-drive and will mean you don’t find yourself with files you did not want. You can now click Ok.

NewProfile-7Click Ok on the Warning, then you might like to click yes on the next message window to simulate running the profile.  Once you are satisfied with the profile, you can click “Run”, and it will prepare a list of file differences for you to review before actually making the changes, click “Continue Run” to make the changes.

So now that you have you first backup and second copy of your images you need to decide on a third option, it is highly important that this one be off-site ie not kept at home.  You could use another external hard-drive and keep this in an office draw at work or at a friend’s house.  Just remember to keep it up to date, for this I recommend is exchanging one hard-drive for another, so you always have a backup off-site.


An alternative solution for the third backup is to use an online backup service.  I use a service called BackBlaze, it costs me $90 every 2 years and provides me unlimited storage.  It not only backs up my photos, it also backs up any other documents on the computer.  An important thing to know with this service and other online backup services is that they will need to upload all of your data so it will use your internet and some internet providers charge or take your uploads off your internet quota.  Another thing to note is that most internet (unless you are on NBN) are limited to 100KB/s.  So if you have 1GB of photos and documents it will take approximately 1 day of constantly uploading to finish.  The great thing about these online backup services is that you do not need to remember to plug-in a drive and run the backup, it will automatically backup during the time you specify.

Now hopefully this guide helps you to protect your images from disaster, though I hope you never have to use your backups.



  1. What I learnt from being robbed | OzLight Photo Adventures - […] One of the most important things is to ensure you have a backup of all of your photos, and…
  2. The First 5 Things to understand about Adobe's Lightroom | OzLight Photo Adventures - […] associated photo’s. For a more in-depth discussion on data backups check out this previous blog post by Tony White.…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *