Motorsport Photography Tip: The Importance Of Backups

V8 Supercars Symmons Plains 2016

G’day! Following on in my series of Motorsport Photography tips, I thought I’d write about an issue that’s effected me recently and reiterate the importance of having backups especially for Motorsport Photographers.

If you follow me on twitter you might have seen my recent frustrations with external hard drive failures.  While it’s frustrating to have to dig up the backups and re-create my photo archives, at least I had the backups to go back to.

Prior to jumping into photography, I had 15 years of experience working in IT. So I’ve always been adamant to make sure I’ve got at least 3 copies of my photos at all time, just incase. Fortunately this experience proved very handy recently when I lost not only my photo archive, but a couple of my backup drives as well.

I rushed out, bought some new external hard drives and spent a full two days just recovering my data from my backups to recreate my photo archives. I then recreated the second copy of my backups for the two backup drives that had failed. No big issue, just a bit time consuming. Especially re-importing the files into Adobe Lightroom.

However after getting back from Symmons Plains I found the new archive drive had failed. Yes, those two full days were wasted. But again not a major issue because I have backups. Just wish I could send Western Digital and Seagate an invoice for my time!

So in an effort to not suffer from the same issues again with my photo archives, I’ve gone all out and purchased a NAS device (Network Attached Storage). Probably something I should have done long ago, but it’s not something the local computer stores keep in stock.

Having a NAS is going to allow me to add an additional level of backup if a hard drive fails, enlisting a RAID 5 configuration to spread my data across multiple drives so that if a drive fails I haven’t lost it. If you’d like to know more about NAS’s and RAID send me a message and I’ll put a blog post together about that as well.

With the NAS should hopefully reduce the likely hood of having to rebuild my archives. But the whole exercise reiterated with me the importance of having backups. So I thought other people could learn from my experience as well. In case you haven’t experienced it, hard drives fail quite frequently.

So here is my backups procedure:

Backup Process on the Road

When I’m at a race meeting I still make sure I’ve got three copies of my photos as soon as I can. When I get back to the media center I download my photos to my computer, but I won’t format or delete the photos off my memory cards. I keep them (upside down so I know they’ve been used) in my card wallet until I get home.

Then at the end of the day’s running I make sure I take another copy of my photos to an external hard drive. I usually try to do this overnight if not the next morning.

I also make sure that any of my photos for my customers are uploaded to dropbox. Firstly so they get them quickly, but it also covers me if there is an issue with my laptop.

Backup Process at Home

When I get home from a race meeting, the first thing I do I get my laptop out and make another backup copy of my photos to an external hard drive. I’ll do this again the next day to another separate drive (leaving me with five copies of my photos at this point in time).

It’s only once I’ve reached this point that I’ll look at moving the photos from my laptop to my archive and formatting my memory cards to get ready for the next event.

It all sounds a bit tedious, but I can assure you that it certainly pays for itself. Especially in recent weeks.

I’m going to put together more specific Motorsport Photography tips through out 2016, including how I organise my photos. If you haven’t seen my previous posts, head over to my Motorsport Photography Tips page.

If you’d like to follow along for all my latest photos and articles, make sure you keep an eye on my social media – TwitterFacebookInstagram or Google+. I’ve also recently joined Snapchat, so if you like to see behind the scenes during these events, my username is: vandersyde.

If you’d like to know more about my motorsport photography packages and the other services I provide. Feel free to get in touch either through my social media or via my contact me page