So I want to use this post to remind you to back up your files, and to show you different ways through which you might lose your photos - and stop them from happening to you.
I always thought of myself as being on the ‘safe side’. I back up my photos and documents regularly, and keep more than one copy.
But here’s what’s happened to me not too long ago: I’ve been taking a lot of photos recently, and I use four main SD cards. Once I’ve used up all that space, I have to format them to be able to take more pictures. It’s definitely enough space for a shoot, and sometimes even lasts for two days of shooting.
When I get home I transfer the images onto my laptop, and back them up on an external harddrive. So the next time I’m out shooting I can safely format my memory cards, and keep taking more photos. Sounds safe? I thought so too, and probably started feeling a bit too safe.
Then something happened the other day when I copied the photos over onto my laptop, and I somehow missed some of the images. I didn’t look through the photos again straight away because it was late, and I had to get up early the next morning to take more photos. But I knew I had transferred the images, so of course the next day when I was out taking more photos I formatted my card.
When I got home that night, I went through my photos of the previous day, and realised that some of my images were missing. I checked the SD cards I hadn’t formatted yet, but my photos were gone…
Luckily I still had enough photos from the shoot that I could use, so the situation wasn’t too bad, but it proved to be a great learning experience.
I’m sharing this story with you, because losing your photos can be so simple and happen in so many ways that you might not even think of. And even though I was fine in the end, it still felt really frustrating.
Here are some ways to make sure your photos are safely backed up - I’m sure I’ll be able to add more points over time:
1. Always keep at least two copies of your photos.
2. Store your images in two different physical places if you can (e.g. at your home, and at your parents’ house).
3. Never format your card before you haven’t checked that you’ve saved all of the photos.
4. Always transfer all of your photos from a shoot onto your laptop or a harddrive straight away.
5. Regularly transfer images + format your card. There are two reasons for this: 1. It might just be me, but I like to keep my SD cards ‘clean’, it feels better. 2. You’re less likely to lose some photos because you forget about them being on that card if you keep using it over a long time. (I like to use my memory cards only for one shoot, and then start with an empty card the next time, which gives me all the space possible.)
5. Don’t use up all the space on your SD card. Always leave space for a few more photos. Apparently the first and last images on the card are the most likely to get corrupted if something happens. Plus, it’s good to keep a bit of free space just in case you might want to/have to shoot a few more images, and don’t have the time to change your memory card.
6. Keep track of your photos - make sure you’ve got a system in place to archive your photos. Whatever works for you is fine, but don’t just drop all of your photos into one single folder and keep the original ‘IMG_0123’ name. You won’t be able to find specific photos again - so how are you going to know whether you’ve backed them up already?
Let me know if there’s anything you’d add to this list. I would love to hear - anything to keep our photos safe is welcome. :)