I would hate to lose ANY of my photos. I have a real problem with the very thought of memories going missing, and so I am extremely over-cautious now about backing up my photos. For the past several years, I've backed up, but only to an external hard drive, keeping all photos on my laptop.
Last year, I decided to look into creating a backup system that worked for me. It needed to not be through-the-roof expensive, and I wanted to feel secure that I had multiple backup locations should one fail. I also needed to be able to get the photos off of my Mac in the process.
So here is the system I am using. It may be overkill for some, but it is the most cost-effective solution I've found that gives me confidence I simply will not lose my photos.
Online Backup - SmugMug.com
After researching many potential online backup solutions, SmugMug came out a winner for me for a number of reasons. SmugMug is a beautiful photo sharing site. It is great for both professional photographers who want a custom website, and the average Joe (or Jane) who wants to share photos and back them up securely.
- Storage - SmugMug offers unlimited photo (and video-though there is a restriction on video length/size) uploads. Other sites I looked at charged a higher fee for more space, or a fee on the amount of data you uploaded in a given time period.
- Stand alone - SmugMug is not a backup of your hard drive (like a site such as Carbonite would be - if you delete a file off of your laptop, Carbonite removes it in 30 days as well). With SmugMug, you upload the files you want to backup, and they are not removed unless you remove them yourself. Also, I need to get my photos OFF of my MacBook (because I'm running out of room!). I can safely do so, knowing that SmugMug will be unaffected.
- Price - I chose the $60/year plan, and found a coupon code for the first year for $12 off of that price. I wanted right click protection for my photos, this is the only reason I chose the Power plan over the Basic Plan ($40/year).
- Accessibility - I like that I can download individual images from anywhere, or I can download an entire gallery in a zip file. And there are no fees for doing so. So if I want to grab a picture to change my desktop background at work or make a copy of a gallery to share with a friend, I can easily do so.
- Privacy - I can make galleries private so only I can view them, or I can share them publically or via link. And I can choose whether or not to allow those viewing the gallery to be able to download the full resolution file as well.
I have three external backups for my photos.
- Time Machine hard drive - I use the Mac's Time Machine feature with a 1TB WD My Book to backup my Mac, but I also store files on this hard drive as well.
- External hard drive - I use a 500 GB WD My Passport as a separate external hard drive, and copy all of my photo files to this drive.
- DVD - I burn a copy of MOST of my photos to DVD. (I generally do not burn blog post photos, photos of my Project Life spreads, etc). The DVD is for the essential stuff.
This system is perfect for me. I have an online backup, should my house catch fire. I have a DVD backup and an online backup, should my hard drive fail. I have a hard drive backup and an online backup, should the DVD deteriorate through time. No matter what, I will have a backup that I can use to make a new copy should one of my backup options fail.
I have a similar system for my files and documents - PNGs and other image files can be saved to SmugMug as part of my membership. I use a separate 250GB My Passport for my files and documents, and I burn anything essential that I can't lose (like the items I created for my online store) to DVD. I also have a private website that I can upload files to, so I back up all of my store files here as well.
Hopefully this gives you a little boost to back up your files, and maybe introduces you to an option you haven't seen before, SmugMug. I love SmugMug and can't rave enough about it! :)