Backup Your Catalog! My Hard Won Approach to Protecting My Digital Life

I have done many, many dumb things in my life fortunately none have been fatal. But they have been varying degrees of painful!

Nov 25, 2019 is a day I will remember for a while. On the pain scale this was a day of about an 8 or 9. I introduced my old computer to you last week – A tower Mac Pro from about 2010. A beast of a machine. A rock solid performer right up until it wasn’t.

I thought I had a pretty good set up – 3 internal drives, a pair of external drives and a pair of Drobo’s. I kept my Lightroom catalog on one of the internal drives and the actual images on the drobo that was mirrored to the second drobo. So far so good. Then the internal drive with the Lightroom catalog on died. It was then that I realized that the Lightroom catalog backups were on the same drive. Ouch!

What a drag to lose all the edits that I had made to 1000s of photos over the course of 5+ years. Well I won’t make that mistake again!

An Effective Back Up Strategy

The core of my back-up strategy is to have at least one physical copy and one cloud based copy of my files. A physical copy because I can quickly access the files that I need and get going again. A cloud copy because stuff happens – it’s a hedge against a break-in, fire or a natural disaster.

So how am I currently set up. I have an internal drive in the mac mini – this is where my lightroom catalog lives. This is the file that has all of the data for edits that I’ve made, images that I’ve starred, flagged or colored. That file is backed up from the option in lightroom to an external drive. The whole internal drive is backed up to another external drive using TimeMachine and the whole drive is also backed up to iCloud.

So where are the photos. The actual image files both raw, jpeg and photoshop edited images are on an external SSD drive and also on a regular external drive. These files are then backed up to a drobo using CarbonCloner. I am also using back blaze to store these images in the cloud. It’s not fast to upload the whole catalog to the cloud but once it’s done it’s done.

Writing this now it seems so simple and yet I never managed to get my act together until it was too late. Perhaps this is the only way to learn powerful lessons. Who knows. In any case don’t be like me – spend an hour or so putting a simple workflow in place, automate it and then you’ll never need to worry about the safety of your creative work again.

1 thought on “Backup Your Catalog! My Hard Won Approach to Protecting My Digital Life

  1. Pingback: Generative Ideas for Starting Projects | Andrew Nixon's Photo Blog

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