Backing Up Your Wedding Photographs

Should I Back Up My Wedding Photographs? 

Absolutely, yes, back up your wedding photographs! I can’t stress the importance of this more. This topic can admittedly be a bit tiresome but I really encourage reading on for more information and best practices to back up your wedding photographs. This advice can really apply to the storage of any important digital information.

Why Back Up Your Wedding Photographs?

Your wedding photographs are truly irreplaceable, and it would be a tragedy if they were lost, stolen, or damaged. Like all media, digital images are not fail proof and they can be susceptible to all of the above, as well as file corruption. If only one copy of your photos exists and the one laptop they’re stored on is stolen, nothing can really be done to retrieve them unless you get lucky and the police catch the culprit or I happen to still have backups. But it’s important to take backup safety precautions into your own hands. For this reason, it’s best to have a few backups of your wedding photographs to protect your memories and investment.

What Counts As A Backup?

A backup would be considered copying the original files to a separate device or service other than on what the original files are stored. It’s important to know that making multiple copies of the files on the same device does not count as a backup. If the primary storage device of your wedding photos is your laptop or desktop, then you should also have the photos stored on, at the very least, one other device such as a thumb drive or external hard drive, as well as an offsite backup solution.

Do I Really Need An Offsite Backup?

I definitely recommend it. If your house burns down and all of the backups go up in flames, it doesn’t matter how many devices you put the images on. They’ll all be ash. For this reason, an offsite backup is your last line of defense against losing your images. An offsite back up would be a location somewhere other than the primary storage location of your images. So if you have one or two copies of your wedding photographs on separate storage devices at your home, it would be a very smart idea to have another copy of your photos at a relative’s house, in a safety deposit box, and/or stored online using a cloud service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

A Warning Regarding Some Cloud-Based Storage Solutions And Auto-Syncing

Cloud-based storage like Dropbox and Google Drive are great, but there are some scenarios to watch out for when using these services. Some of these services have auto-syncing capabilities. For example, if you take a picture on your phone then the image would be automatically backed up to the cloud storage service. The way these features work is that once you run out of storage space, the service will overwrite the oldest data with the newest within certain parameters. Sometimes it depends on where the photos are stored within the service. Regardless, I do not recommend enabling these kinds of features in conjunction with the backup storage of your wedding photographs on the off chance that the feature overwrites your wedding photos. If you really want to use the auto-syncing features of these cloud storage services, please make sure you understand how to organize your files in such a way so that no accidental deletions occur.

Is It Okay To Just Mirror My Entire Computer’s Hard Drive To Another Drive And Call It Good?

I would discourage this if you don’t understand the different ways mirroring works. In some ways mirroring can be an easy, one-size fits all kind of solution to backing up your entire computer, including your wedding photos. However, there are different forms of mirroring, and one form will mirror any deletions that are made to your primary drive. So if you accidentally delete the folder containing your wedding photos from your computer’s hard drive then the photos will also be deleted from the mirrored drive, as well.

You can even run into this same issue using Time Machine on Mac. While Time Machine will keep many previous backup states, it can delete older backup states to make room for newer ones. So if it takes a long time for you to realize that you deleted your photos, Time Machine may have already overwritten the last backup state before the images were accidentally deleted.

In general, steer clear of anything automated. Just drag and drop the photos to where you want them stored and don’t touch them or enable any feature that could alter them.

This All Sounds Kind Of Crazy and Anal Retentive. How Many Backups Do I Really Need?

You can never have too many backups. But I’d say two backups in addition to the copies on your primary storage device would be fairly safe. So three independent sets of the images altogether. If your primary storage of your photos is on your laptop or desktop, I would keep one other copy on an external hard drive or thumb drive, ideally stored in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. The second copy could be uploaded to a cloud storage service. If you don’t keep any photos on your laptop or desktop then you would want one main external drive, one thumb drive stored securely, and one cloud-based.

  1. Main drive, either internal or external, that you would normally use to store and access photos on a regular basis.
  2. Thumb drive or external hard drive, preferably stored in a fire-safe, locked container, possibly offsite.
  3. Cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive and/or Flickr.

Is Facebook An Okay Backup?

Something is better than nothing, but, no, Facebook is far less than ideal as a backup. Most social media platforms will downscale the resolution of your photos. So, while you would be able to upload and download your photos for free, and they would admittedly look fine on a computer screen, the image quality would be substantially reduced, and you wouldn’t be able to print them at larger sizes in all their glory.

Does Kyle Carnes Photography Back Up Your Wedding Photos?

The short but incomplete answer is, yes, I do backup your photos. I, however, highly, highly encourage having your own backup plan because in the future I may have to take your gallery down for unforeseen reasons. I have hundreds of wedding and engagement galleries still online going all the way back to 2011 when I first started my business. So in that sense, I do indefinitely keep galleries up. But if I were to ever run into storage limitations through my host or if I were to pursue another line of work I may not maintain these galleries in the future. For this reason, I unfortunately cannot guarantee the long-term storage of your wedding photographs.

Best Backup Storage Solutions

  • USB Thumb Drive: This option is relatively inexpensive, but invest in one that is quality because there are a lot of cheap thumb drives out there that are prone to failure. I recommended dedicating a thumb drive solely to your wedding photos and storing it away in a secure, safe place.
  • External Hard Drive: An external hard drive fills in for a thumb drive just fine, but I would recommend getting a solid state drive instead of a drive with a spinning disk. Solid state is much more secure, although these drives cost a premium. A thumb drive just might be the better solution because they’re less expensive.
  • Safety Deposit Box: If you already have a safety deposit box this is a no-brainer. It’s extremely secure and offsite. Put a backup drive in there already!
  • A Fireproof Safe Or Box: Like a safety deposit box, if you have a fireproof safe or box you might as well take advantage of this secure option. A small box isn’t that expensive, maybe $50, and you can store other sensitive material in there. But I would still have another offsite storage location. That safe or box can still be stolen or broken into.
  • A Safe Place At A Trusted Family Member or Friend’s House: For a physical offsite solution this would be my last resort because you won’t have control over what someone else might do with a drive at their house. But it’s better than nothing.
  • Dropbox: I love Dropbox. You can access all of your images and documents on any device. The only drawback is that you only get 2 GB of free storage. Depending on the number of photos delivered that might not be quite enough space, although there are free but limited ways to expand that storage. Or you can pay for more. Also, like I mentioned higher up, beware of auto-syncing or anything that sounds like that.
  • Google Drive: Google Drive is much like Dropbox. But there are a couple notable differences, both good and bad. The good is that you get way more storage. As of writing this, I believe you get as much as 15 GB. However, the bad is that Gmail also shares this storage space. So if you’ve been using your Gmail account for a long time you may find that your Google Drive space has already filled up considerably. You might either need to delete old emails and attachments or purchase more storage.
  • Flickr: Although kind of old school, Flickr is still a fairly good photo storage option. It stores full-resolution images, and you can organize them into one large album just like Facebook, so you’d be able to download the entire gallery all at once if needed. But unlike Facebook, there would be no degradation in quality. As of writing this, you can store as many as 1000 images for free, which should be enough for all your wedding photos. However, if you already have photos uploaded to Flickr, you may need to clear some space.

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