I have been always writing about backing up your pictures as part of your picture organization strategy. You have to do it, period. That being said, how do you set up an automatic backing up procedure that will save you lots of headache? In addition, what if you have to upgrade your storage for more space and keep backing up everything? There are some simple things that can be done in order to simplify your backup strategy.
Analyze your computer configuration
Do you have one internal hard drive in your computer or do you have two of them, or more? I found it useful to think through my computer architecture before I buy a new computer or do any sort of computer upgrade. The main reason for this analysis is to simplify my backup strategy.
Are you thinking about buying a new computer? Or building one? If you are, think about making things easier for yourself when setting up your backup strategy. Obviously, depending what you use your computer for, you might have some other goals in mind. For me, I just want to be able to enjoy my large collection of pictures and videos and do a few other smaller things (like write on my websites). As you can see my primary goal is to have lots of space and be able to backup all my data. The rest is not that important.
Correct computer configuration can make backing up your data much easier.
Choose the simplest computer configuration
Over the years, I found that the best and simplest way to organize my computer is to have two internal hard drives: one for the system software…pretty much everything that keeps my computer doing what I want it to do. The other drive holds all my media files, including pictures, music, video and all my document files. In a nutshell, this one separate internal hard drive contains all the data I want backed up.
What’s the advantage? Well, I’m separating my system files from my media files. In theory if my internal system drive fails, my internal media drive should be intact (most of the times). Since the computer is just a tool for manipulating data and media, I could just replace the computer and install my media drive in the new computer and I should be good to go.
In addition, I use some sort of external hard drive backup system. I setup this external drive to mirror the secondary internal hard drive. This way setting up my automatic backup schedule is very easy. Just set up only one profile in SyncBackSE and add scheduling to it. I set it up so it’s done automatically everyday after midnight.
My main reason for upgrading my computer was to take advantage of the new larger sizes available in SATA hard drives. I was running out of space fast (thanks to my new Canon T2i)on my old EIDE (now called PATA) drives. It was time to make a move. And that’s what I did. So I stayed focused on solving my space problem and not so much finding out all that’s new about my computer.
So I uninstalled pretty much all extra stuff Dell has installed on my computer and only installed the software that I was using. Pretty simple right?
Save money by learning how to install an internal hard drive
I bought a middle of the road configuration from Dell with the minimum hard drive space they offer (320Gb) on the main drive. I could’ve paid over $200 extra and had the computer fitted with an extra 1Tb hard drive. However, the price Dell charges for extra hard drives is just outrageous. So I got the minimum, with the intention of installing a new SATA drive myself. It cost me just $68 from B&H Photo Video but if I add $20 for the SATA cable it comes to $90. So, I saved more than $100 by spending 10 exta minutes opening the computer up and installing this new hard drive.
After doing some research, I bought a Western Digital Green Power 1 Tb internal SATA hard drive from B&H. Since I bought the slim version of the computer for space reasons, I wanted a hard drive that was running cool. WD Green Power was the answer. In addition I bought the Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition 2Tb external drive for my new backup. I configured it as RAID 1 to create two copies of my media files instead of just one. The Mirror Edition external drive also uses the Green Power drives (it actually runs properly only with these drives) since they’re installed so close to each other with very little ventilation.
Tell the operating system you’re moving the main media folders
Starting with Windows XP (and subsequently in Windows Vista and Windows 7), Microsoft has added the My Pictures, My Music and My Videos folders within the My Documents folder for each user of the operating system. These have become special folders, treated in a special way by the operating system. What’s so special about them?
Well, Microsoft has realized what kinds of files are important to users, namely: documents, pictures, videos and audio files. So, Microsoft has incorporated these file types in a special way in its operating systems. When you download pictures or videos, the operating system “guesses” you want to place them in My Documents/My Pictures and My Documents/My Videos respectively. Similarily, by default all document type files will be saved in My Documents, unless you instruct the operating system to place them somewhere else.
Why should you care? You should if you want to have these files somewhere else on your computer and not in My Documents. For example, I set all these folders on the internal drive in a structure like this:
D: (on the media disk) My Documents My Pictures My Music My Videos
Windows sets them like this by default:
C: (on the system disk) Documents And Settings users vlad My Documents My Pictures My Music My Videos
Set up your backup profile in SyncBackSE
Once I told Windows 7 to move the media files where I wanted them to be, then I create a profile in SyncBackSE. I chose the second internal drive as my source and my external drive as the destination. I created a mirror profile so the two drives would become identical…with one small difference.
I always want the computer media drive to be the master. In other words, if I delete files on the computer hard drive I want them to be deleted from the backup drive as well. So, I set this up in my SyncBackSE profile (Read Backup your pictures in 6 easy steps using SyncBack Freeware) .
Lastly, I add a scheduled task to the profile to be run every night after midnight. This is it, I am done!
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.