Don’t lose those photos, backup your memories now

August 29, 2010

Digital photography is now main-stream and we are no longer limited to the 24 photos per film.  This, coupled with the rise in cheap memory cards, now means we can snap away generating more and more memories.  Modern computers also have much larger hard drives so again, more and more can be stored.  But what would you do if the hard drive crashed; either through physical damage or the result of a virus infection or malware.  Last month I had to recover photos from another dropped laptop.

Backing up your computer should be a regular task but it is time consuming.  Having to use specific software to backup data to DVDs or CDs is a real chore.  And after time complacency can kick in and you agree with yourself that you will back up tomorrow, then at the weekend, then next week.

To ease this burden, create a backup strategy. This begins with data assessment, essentially auditing your data to put real value onto it – and of all data types, photos and videos are without doubt the one type of data you cannot replace.  OK, it’s a pain if you lost your music collection, CV or letter to the bank, etc, but these are replaceable.

Once you have identified the important data it needs to be backed up in the right place.  It’s no good creating a backup and then storing it on the same drive as your data because if the drive fails you lose your data and the backup. There are three very simple targets for your backup:

  • External Hard Drive – plugs directly into your computer and appears as another drive and ideal for backing up single or multiple computers but the drive needs to be physically moved from computer to computer.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) – connects to your broadband router and uses your home network to connect a network drive.  This has the advantage of being available to every member of your household so can protect more than one computer at the same time.  It also works over wireless networks so your laptop does not even need to be physically connected. For details see
  • Web Based backup – using the internet to create a storage area for an offsite backup.  This has the advantage of no hardware costs or storage limitations and also protects against building destruction.  In addition, you can typically access your data from any web browser.

It is also possible to use a combination of these.  I personally use a NAS storage device and a Web Based Backup.  I use excellent Jungle Disk ( software to create backups each night of our critical data, including photos and business data, and a Synology Disk Station backs up the various laptops and PCs in the house.

Easing the Burden

The best approach for a successful backup plan is to automate the procedure.  Whilst this reduces the need for human intervention it is still important to check and verify the process.  This is typically a case of checking a log file or reviewing the results posted via email.

One of the best products I have used to automate the backup task is PureSync.  This is FREE for home users and is capable of both backing up data and synchronising two sources.  So if used in conjunction with a NAS server, two laptops could both have a copy of the same data with the NAS providing the central source.

With respect to Web Based backup, you could also take a look at MozyHome (   They offer a free trial with storage up to 2GB.  And if you like the service you can upgrade to unlimited storage for less than $5 a month.

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