Whoa, back it up, Bub

By Steve Skuss

March 31 was world backup day. You DO backup your photos, right? In various surveys I have seen, after ID’s and insurance information, the first thing listed in a disaster checklist is photo albums. These could be weddings, grandchildren or family heritage, but most seem to consider these to be essentials when faced with life altering events. If that is the case, why on earth would you slap some of your most precious keepsakes on a single, vulnerable and absolutely sure-to-breakdown device like a hard drive, or worse yet, a very lose-able SD card or (shudder) cell phone. Let’s face it-it is all too easy to “forget”, and there is “always tomorrow” when it comes to thinking about securing your photos. I guess that’s kind of human nature, a part of the eternal optimism that helps drive great accomplishments. Somewhere along the way though, that must be tempered with a bit of realism and self-discipline.

There is no end to the number of backup options and that means no end to the number of people trying to take your money to provide the “perfect” solution. I find that backups are really based upon a person’s threshold of pain. That would be the pain of backing up, pain of the money spent, and the pain of losing your images. Some will be happy just sticking them on thumb drives, CD’s or external drives that go in a fireproof box. Others want those items in a safty deposit box, or out in the cloud where their permanence becomes someone else’s problem. The purists have a saying that “one backup is no backups”, meaning that multiple copies of each image is essential to guard against loss. Then there are those that say unless you print your image, “it isn’t real” anyway, so why bother?

What is important here of course, is that you do SOMETHING. Something that you feel comfortable about and most importantly, something that you will actually do. It does no good to subscribe to the most expensive, semi-automatic, super secure, guaranteed even during a national pandemic (!), if you don’t keep up with it. That would be the difficulty with a manual system, and why many (such as myself) have a system in place where all images are scanned each night and the new ones go to some sort of backup device. If you choose to do it yourself, pick a time frame, get it on a calendar and make sure you adhere to the schedule.


Now that I have brow beaten you for a bit, let me leave you with this: Arguably, photography is the only art form that has a truly unlimited source of material. I guarantee you, wherever you are reading this, without moving, you could find something that could be photographed and made into an image that someone, somewhere would find desirable to look at. If not just your photos, but everyone’s everywhere vanished tomorrow, there would be thousands, if not millions of new photos taken the very next day. We all have some one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime photos, but keep in mind there are more of those just waiting to be made in the future. Do not ever think, should something awful happen, that you can’t go out and make more memories. Of course, they will need to be backed up too.