Commentary Post – Back Up Your Memories!

Back Up Your Memories!

Its been an interesting couple of months of milestones that have warranted photographic documentation…graduations, birthdays, and babies. As I was copying my images from the SD card to my computer it struck me that it’s been awhile since I did a back up of my images. The next day my hard drive seemingly gasped and died. After cursing the irony and my procrastination, I collecting myself and did a reinstall of the system software and was able to get back into the hard drive…needless to say I did a complete copy of all my files and images to an external hard drive immediately. I was lucky. Loosing images of children growing up, graduations, birthdays, camping is like loosing a link to the past and the evolution of a family. I would have had no one to blame but myself.

Perminder Tung, a Canadian lawyer was not so lucky. He took steps to back up images of the birth of his daughter using Apple Time Capsule, unfortunately, Tung claims the device failed and that Apple informed him the images were gone forever. He is now suing Apple for $25,000 to compensate for the lose of the images.

I feel for Mr Tung. Loosing those images would be devastating, but should he be compensated by Apple? Electronic devices fail. All things mechanical, digital, or electronic can fail, but can the manufacturer be responsible for the lose of the data and memories? If a piece of electronic equipment malfunctions it should be fixed or replaced, but to hold the maker responsible for lose of memories is not realistic. As photographers, professional or amateur, it is up to us to ensure the safety of our product. Common sense tells us to keep safe and back up that which is important to us. Mr Tung is trying desperately to find someone to blame, other than himself. If I had lost my images I would have had no one to blame but myself.

I found mention of this issue in a recent blog post by photographer Chase Jarvis. He agrees with my position and so do many of the comments on his blog. He has created a video that addresses issues that deal with workflow, storage and backup of your precious images. Here is the link.



15 thoughts on “Commentary Post – Back Up Your Memories!

  1. Wow, your post is timely! We always breathe a sign of relief when we reach the summer and now have time to do the things that get pushed off the rest of the year. We (I mean. not me. the tech person in my household- meaning my husband) just backed up the pictures. It failed in the middle! He got it up and running the next day, but we were scared that we had lost an entire month! I cannot imagine losing them all- not sure of the price I would put on that!

      • I agree Barry. All of my pictures are on my computer. I miss flipping through the albums and looking back at old vacations. I suppose I could still do that after printing everything out. It would be so expensive seeing that with the digital camera, one tends to take far more pictures than with the old fashioned film camera. I haven’t backed up my pictures at all. Maybe I will do that today!

  2. I keep so many of my photos digital this has always been my nightmare. We bought an additional external hard drive that has nothing but photos on it. We back it up often and keep it in the firesafe with other important documents.

    I would love to see Mr. Tung’s argument in court. The fact that he is a lawyer makes me chuckle even more…he should know better! I guess he’s taking the case pro bono and really has nothing to lose.

  3. I remember when Napster first came out, my computer crashed and I lost a lot of the music that was downloaded. Since then, I have been one to back-up, albeit, not as much as I should. I don’t save things to my computer’s hard drive (it all goes on a flashdrive); and I periodically transfer the contents of my flashdrive into my Dropbox account; I figure that will give me access to my files if something goes awry.

    In fact, I think I will do that now. Thanks for the friendly reminder!

  4. Barry, this is something that I need to do as well, as all of my pictures from the last decade are sitting on a single external hard drive in my wife’s office. I was wondering if you had a recommendation for backing up. Two external hard drives (i.e., one to back up the other)? An external hard drive and copies on CDs or DVDs?

  5. Michael,
    Have a look at the video link at the end of the post. Chase Jarvis describes in great detail the exact process his studio goes through in order to ensure the safety of his photographs and video. It is WAY more than any individual needs to go through, but it is his livelihood. The basic moral of the story is to have at least two copies of all your data, keep separate copies of raw and modified data and to be extra safe keep a copy in a separate location in case of fire or natural disaster. Ironically, he uses Apple Time Machine as part of his workflow for back up, switching out two separate hard drives every two weeks. Making backups on DVD has been a popular method, but those things get scratched or lost and with all the other storage options available now, the physical CD or DVD seems to be disappearing. (The new MacBook Pro doesn’t even have a DVD drive!)

    • Yeah I watched the video, but figured you were more the “weekend warrior” group that I was in when it came to this kind of thing (as opposed to the professional league that Chase Jarvis was in). You seem to be leaning towards the multiple external drives, as opposed to the CD/DVD option.

      • For me the external hard drives work much better. For some reason I have a hard time keeping track of CD’s/DVD’s. They almost always get used as Frisbee’s or coasters for a hot coffee.

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