Your Most Important Data Isn’t Just Your Work

October 29th, 2009


Is it just me or does it take something negative happening to your files before realizing that you should have backed up your most important data? Not just your work, but your address book, iPhone, website, Email, etc. You can never be too safe. Just last week I went from 1,000+ images and full address book on my iPhone, to diddly-squat. It’s totally an inconvenience to lose that data and hundreds of contacts, but needless to say, I’ve learned my lesson.

Over the past few days I’ve begun my new system of backing up due to being paranoid over the idea of losing work. I purchased another LaCie Poultron 1TB drive from MacMall the other day to back up more data. They’re worthy, cheap drives and have a gorgeously sleek black casing. Other than the external backup drives, I’m also running three internal SATA drives inside of my MacPro Quad Core. Each drive in the machine is used for separate purposes. HD1, standing for harddrive #1 in slot 1, holds the main OS and applications along with immediate documents and fonts. HD2 is my Design Work hard drive holding all of my design work, both personal and client based. HD3 is my photo drive. All of my Aperture vaults and libraries are saved to this drive and then backed up on a weekly basis or just after shooting. I have all of my photos currently in an Aperture vault but also have the native RAW files backed up just in case.

In addition to backing up to hard drives, there are a few online businesses such as Mozy or BackBlaze that perform online backups. Instead of that route, there is also the option of backing up to your server, which I would only do if you trust it fully. I am working on online backups, but the process is slow due to the amount of data being transferred.

This data pinch has pushed me to refine my system of performing backups so I want to ask you–are you backing up? If so, how often do you perform backups? What are your methods/setups and have you run into trouble in the past with data loss? Share with us in the comments.

Posted by on 10/29/09 in Process, Workflow

10 COMMENTS   »  Leave your Comment

  1. Richard says:

    Hey Shelby,

    Fortunately I have not run into any problems where I loose my data. I did however just backup all my data to MOZY. I figured the amount of money I would spend on a external drive was about the same as 2-3 years of Mozy backup. External can also crash and loose data. That’s why I chose to go with Mozy. You can also pull anything from the server from any location making it unnecessary to carry around your external drive. Overall I am very pleased with the service. Thanks for the post.

  2. Matt McIver says:

    Sounds like you got a pretty secure backup plan now. Currently I’m running all the OS, apps and fonts on my internal disc. Have my main Aperture library on an external My Passport by WD, and store Aperture vaults on a second WD hard drive I keep at home. I’ve been thinking of backing up all the RAW imports onto DVD and just cataloging them into a storage system but have yet to implement that.

  3. Ninyo says:

    I’m also very paranoid. 

    Everytime I’m finished with comps ill transfer it over to my 8gig thumbdrive—I even back up my iphone files into it too. I’ll transfer scans, comps, links, finals, personal files, every file that is working in progress and even create multiple comps according to what run I’m on incase I want to go back on a previous direction or incase I delete something. It’s nice to have limited memory because it gives you that cue to say, “Ok it’s time to back up my data.” and you’re not only telling yourself that, but you’re forced to.  Once my 8gig is filled, ill take 2 dvds and burn all 8gig worth of data into those 2 dvds and store it in this container I have after checking the content in the dvd and label whats inside with a sharpie. Then, ill delete the data on my thumbdrive. The whole process takes me about 20-30 mins.

    I’m scared to invest in an external hard drive even if it has a terrabyte, because what happens if it fails? I feel at ease when I have periodic backups in multiple portions because if one dvd fails, then I’d still have my other data. I have cds from 1998 that still haven’t failed and it was the 1st generation thick blue backing. So that’s why I trust them so much. It’ll only get better once we are able to burn onto blueray disks. 

    But that’s me and I’m sure ex HDs work well, but I just get so paranoid. I wonder when it’ll stop.

  4. Ninyo says:

    Oh one thing i forgot to mention is I experienced about 5 different total wipes where every single data—even valuable data, like pictures—was erased back in 1998-2005. Only data that I still have from then was when I actually did back up data, which were on CD-Rs. So I’ve learned my lesson

  5. Michael says:

    Ah, losing data and files has got to be the worst thing to ever experience, along with losing all your contacts. Right now for backup all i do is have a copy on my current internal HD, and then make a backup on my external which is just about full. I need one of them 1TB jams!

    Your back up plan sounds fool proof mr. wanken, hopefully you have no future issues like you recently did.

  6. iamsteve says:

    Hello we are a small design and animation company and we have a very simple but effective back up system. We have 6 Mac Pro towers on each of these there are 3 internal drives. like you we have HD1 for operating system, applications and fonts etc. HD2 is then current projects. HD3 uses apples time machine and becomes a mirror of HD2. This backs up work that we are currently working on. when a job is finished we then archive it to and external 1TB drive which we keep on site and then back that up to an identical drive which is kept off site. at home. once the complete job is backed up on the archive and off site archive we delete it from the machines.

    its a pretty rudimentary system but drives are so cheap nowadays that it makes sense. we have 4.5TB of archived jobs now which means we have 5 archive drives onsite and 5 off. which does take up a bit of space but they look pretty cool.

  7. Greg says:

    Wow, so this is really relevant for me right now. My super paranoid, multiple backups just saved me. To start with, I’ll say that I’ve had 4 LaCie drives in the past (3 d2′s and a porche design). Three of those 4 drives are now dead. I’ve since learned that LaCie is just a repackager — they make pretty outsides for crappy insides.

    Over the weekend, I had another one bite the dust. Good thing I have a backup right? Well in the process of restoring from my backup, the backup died. Fantastic. Thank God I’m paranoid and keep a second backup in another location, which I was able to use to restore.

    I’ve since purchased a 2-slot RAID enclosure that I’ll be using to setup a mirrored RAID system for all my photo work — 2x 1TB drives. I’m more-or-less completely over every external drive I’ve bought and feel it’s necessary to go this route.

    So my backup system is now:
    - My internal drive holds all my personal files and applications. This is backed up continuously with Time Machine to a cheap external I got from Costco. I have 2 identical copies of this drive that I rotate out every week or so, making sure I always have Time Machine backing up to one, and the other in a safe, offsite location
    - My photos go to a mirrored RAID setup so there’s constantly a backup copy. I’m soon getting a third drive for the RAID that I will rotate out to the same offsite location.

    Call me paranoid but this kind of non-sense just saved years of photos.

  8. [...] I would have to go with Hard drives. Even though its not the safest storage option, it is the most convenient for me. I backup all of my photos onto Aperture’s Vault system and maintain backups elsewhere. See my post about backing up your work. [...]

  9. Wayne says:

    Wish I would have read this post earlier. I just purchased a WD MyBook 1TB external USB drive for my increasing RAW photo backups. WD installs a chip on this drive than when mounted, automatically mounts a secondary partition with their ‘custom’ software solution similar to Apple’s Time Machine feature. It drove me nuts, but a few minutes googling and a some terminal commands, I was able to disable the auto-mounting of their proprietary partition and go ahead and reformat with Disk Utility. Well, to make a long story even longer, 3 days into my new drive (formatted HFS+) and many, many GB’s copied over, it decides to die. The OS no longer is able to read the drive, and doesn’t recognize it at all. ALL my photo backups for the past 2 years were on that drive. I was lucky, a friend helped me recover about 80% of what I thought I lost via DiskWarrior. People are recommending Mozy and saying great things, however I am of the mind of backing up my things and having the data on site. I’m now looking into 50GB BluRay data backups and a Buffalo burner. The question still stands; do you backup the backup? Where does the redundancy end?

    On a more philosophical note, with everybody archiving cherished pics and movies these days, how are we guaranteed that our media will interface with our grandkids technology in 40 years? Are we delusional in thinking we are permanently backing up these memories? Food for thought.

  10. Moises says:

    You actually make it appear realy easy together with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be actually something that I feel
    I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very wide for me.
    I’m looking forwsrd on your subsequent publish, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

    My blog; site – Moises -


Leave a Response