It’s Happened to All of Us…
You plug in your external hard drive and wait for it to pop up on your computer. You wait and wait, but it never shows up. Your heart starts to race: there’s important documents on this hard drive! Client photos, years of weddings, all of your marketing materials…gone. Okay — maybe it wasn’t THAT dramatic when it happened to you, but I think it’s safe to say that most people have some version of this happen to them. If you’ve experienced data loss before, you know that it is a terrible feeling. That’s why you need to make sure you are backing up everything twice! Even if you’re at a place in your business where you think you can’t afford a good backup system — you need to be investing in this. Let me tell you why.
It Happened to Me…
The first time I experienced data loss was in college during finals week. My (internal) hard drive crashed on my computer. As a photography major, I had tons of photo and video projects that were gone. Luckily, I had already turned in all of my assignments. I only lost a few months of client images, and fortunately I had kept a lot of those sessions on my SD cards. I can’t tell you how lucky I was — I would have failed a few classes if that had happened one day earlier. The funny thing was I tried to complete a backup the night before my computer crashed. I had this weird feeling that something bad was going to happen, and I tried to back it all up. Unfortunately, I ended up losing data because the backup never completed.
…Then It Happened Again
You’d think I would have learned from that first experience…unfortunately not. Fast forward to last summer. I was 1.5 years into my business and told myself I had no money to invest in another hard drive or a cloud backup system. I figured the one I had would hold me over until I had extra cash to get backup drive. One day I’m working on a catalog, and my hard drive ends up crashing to the floor. I quickly grabbed it up and tried to plug it back in. Nothing. My heart sank as I heard a clicking sound coming from the drive. I knew what happened, and I frantically started searching for someone who could fix it.
I reluctantly ended up heading to Best Buy. Honestly, I don’t like their customer service because it always feels like nobody knows what I’m talking about. They took a look at the drive, said it’d be at least $1,000 to do a recovery, and they’d have to send it off for a few weeks. Then they said I would still have to pay that amount if they weren’t able to recover anything! It seemed completely ridiculous to me.
I ended up looking for alternatives. I found a local shop that was able to do it in-house within 2 days for $600. They were also able to tell that at least most of the data was recoverable. If it wasn’t able to be recovered, I’d only have to pay a small fraction of that cost (I think *maybe* it was $100). I took my chances, and somehow, they were able to recover pretty much everything. I couldn’t believe it! Seriously — there were tears…lots and lots of tears. I, again, got really lucky, but it came at a huge cost this time. Instead of paying $120 for a backup hard drive, I spent $600 to recover it, then $120 for a brand new hard drive. Of course, then I spent more money on backup drives after that. Oh, the irony!
Invest in a Good Hard Drive
Needless to say after all of that, my backup system looks completely different now. Since I’m mainly backing up personal photos, documents, and business documents, I currently use 3 different hard drives. They include one 2-TB Seagate External hard drive, one 1-TB Seagate External hard drive, and one 4-TB WD My Book desktop drive. My 4-TB desktop drive now permanently stays in my safe. It has personal pictures and files on it dating back to 2012, so I don’t want to lose those images again! My 2-TB external drive serves as a backup to that drive. Since I use my laptop a lot, I use that one whenever I need to access older documents or images. My 1-TB external drive is for traveling. So if I’m traveling and need to backup images that I don’t have room for on my computer, they go on that hard drive.
My system still isn’t perfect, but it works for now. I can also rest easy knowing that I have everything backed up in multiple locations. If you’re a photographer, you may want to look into more extensive systems in case a hard drive does crash. I would recommend having at least one hard drive, and an cloud backup system in place. Losing a client’s images would be terrible, especially if it’s a wedding day! Don’t make my mistake. Don’t make excuses that will cost you even more down the road. If you have a camera, lenses, and all of the other expensive equipment, you can invest in small hard drive (that’s cheap in comparison!).
I have this hard drive and I am so happy I do! I’ve had others die on me in the past and just about cried! Thanks for all the info!
This is such great photography advice from a professional photographer 😉 it’s so important to have backups and a really great hard drive! Thanks for the reminder and suggestions!
Thank you for the reminder. I also have 3 hard drives with one off site, and I think its so important to be prepared for the worst. This was a great post. Very well written.
I’ve had some close calls, but thankfully never fully lost anything! It’s so smart to back up to multiple locations! So sorry you had to deal with this!
Backups… and backups to the backups are so important! I tell my clients: I’m paranoid about technology, so you don’t have to be. But seriously, prints are the only way I feel safe about an image 😉
Really good advice I honestly need to back up my back ups like asap
This is such a great reminder, back up your hard drives!! I’ll get on doing this right away!
Oh this makes my stomach ache! I have done this in my first year of shooting and lost so much info, including all my finished sessions and weddings eek! It still hurts. Thanks for sharing your story
I’ve had 3 hard drives crash…I have the worst luck with them! The only things I’ve lost have been travel photos that I took and I was so disappointed. So needless to say I back everything up RELIGIOUSLY!
yes yes yes this is so true!! backing up again and again and again is VERY important!!!!
Oh that sucks! It has happened to me too, one of my old hard drives wehere we had so much data got corrupted, ugh! I now have the same Seagate one and love it.
This is such a great post! Im currently looking into buying another external hard drive and will definitely consider Seagate.
yikes…. it happens. The good thing is you learned from it, and you are willing to share with others! Thank you !
Oh my gosh, this is such an important message. Because I am not working with such large files (and not as many), I used an external hard drive, google drive, and dropbox (with expanded storage) in addition to apple time machine. BUT, this made me realize that I need another backup drive. I never even thought about that failing!
THANK you for reminding me! I use this harddrive and I love it so much – but it’s true, you can’t go wrong with multiple back ups. And I have said over and over again – It’ll never happen to me. And it did. A few times. Thanks again for the reminder!
Oh my gosh, girl. Talk about having a great attack!! I totally know that moment you mentioned when you’re waiting for the external to show up!! Thanks for the great hard drive recommendation and reminder to take a look at our process. Cheers to good backup systems!
That is a scary situation, I was just thinking about this earlier today. I just bought a Seagate hard drive just like the one in your picture and plan on using it to work from on my MacBook .
Such a horrible thing to happen but great advice. Glad they were able to recover most of your files.
So many great points you’ve made about backing up your work! Makes me really think about how I’m using my hard drives and saving for my business.