I’ve been using Backblaze for about a year as one of my methods to backup all my computer data, including my photos. I also use external hard drives and Zenfolio, which stores a copy of my final full resolution photos. I was hesitant to have online backup because I have a lot of data. RAW file format, which is what I take every photo in is big, and I can take 3000+ photos in a weekend some times. You get the point. It adds up, so backing up on the internet requires a lot of bandwidth.
Warning: this is going to get a bit geeky, and a little boring, but it’s important stuff.
I may look at backing up data a little differently than some photographers. I come from an Information Technology background, and have been in charge of data backup and recovery for large corporations. I also absolutely treasure photos. Combining the two means I may be a little over-zealous about backup procedures. What is the most important thing when it comes to backing up data?
- Backup your data regularly.
- Back it up to multiple places. External hard drives can fail. Dvds will be obsolete.
- Have a program or online service that can do incremental backups. This means it will only backup your changed and new files since your last backup. This way you only do a full backup once and then smaller amounts of data need to be transferred.
- Have an easy way to restore your data.
- Data should be in more than one physical location, in case of an emergency. I hate to think of unfortunately situations, but if my home was destroyed, I’m glad to know that my photos are in another place as well. Actually two other places. If you don’t want online backup, you can store an external drive at a friends home, or your office.
The great thing about Backblaze is it is very affordable, and it can be set to run continuously, only backing up changed data. It also has options to configure it so you can pick and choose what to backup. If you prefer, you can leave it at default, which will do a thorough job. Most important to me is it’s offsite backup!
I’m writing this article now because I just used restore for the first time. I recently reformatted my computer. Before doing this, I copied all my data onto a new external hard drive. Then I loaded a fresh images of Windows (yes, I am a pc user). Now I’m picking and choosing what data needs to go back onto my computer’s hard drive. In doing this, I discovered three folders got missed in the backup to the new drive. I have multiple copies on other hard drives but I decided it was a good time to test Backblaze.
The first thing that surprised me was the option to pay for my files to be put on hard disk. This does make sense though. It took me 120 days to do my initial backup online. If I needed all the data, I wouldn’t want to wait 120 days to get it back. Today I only needed about 40 gb of data (I say only though my first computer in the 90s had a 1 gb hard drive) so I choose to receive it downloaded in a zipped file. I was able to navigate down and choose exactly which folder that I wanted to receive. I had a little problem with the downloads. The zipped files were empty so I had to go back and use their recommended downloading program, that I didn’t notice before. When I used this, it was seamless.
The only downsides about using an online service like this are:
- It will take you a long time, as in weeks or months, to get a full backup done. You can set it to use a little or a lot of your internet speed while backing up. I often turned it off, if I needed to upload a client gallery or such. Then I’d turn it up all the way and walk away from my computer.
- It is a mirror image of your hard drive. It is not some place you can put files that you don’t want to store on your computer. It keeps copies for four weeks only. So if you deleted something yesterday, you can recover it. If you deleted it two months ago, you can’t. I really wish there was an option to keep backups longer.
- Backup hard drives must be plugged in once a month if you want to keep a backup of them. If you keep them nearby for use, this isn’t a problem, but I have many older ones I would like to have backed up but the idea of having to keep them on my desk and plug them in every few weeks, just isn’t ideal.
Overall, for the price and ease, I strongly recommend it, for photographers, small business owners and even moms you want to make sure they don’t lose photos of their children.
“It’s a snowy day alright” my 5 year old just burst into my office and said looking out my window. So in the theme of a snow day, here is a photo from a wedding I photographed years ago in rural Washington, during a blizzard.