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Insurance against drive failures for Digital Artists & Photographers

My workaround for the photo storage, backups and accessibility

Ever since I started taking photographs (that mattered), I have always stressed about the fact, "What if I wake up one day, and lose all my photographs to a failed hard-drive"? That's for sure the worst nightmare ever for any artists working with digital media. I know this thought isn't something new and there is way too much already written about the solutions. However, I had to figure out a solution that was, in particular, suitable in my situation and did not require too much tech knowledge, in short, it needed to be an idiot-proof and easy to use set up.

Over the years my storage and backup system has evolved, however, it was still not insured for mishaps like theft or natural disasters. As all my drives were stored at home at one location. Finally, I have figured out the solution to the last missing link. Hence, I decided I will share the entire process that works great for me.

What were my most basic requirements form the system I adopt?

  1. The installation and ongoing usage must be easy enough for me to manage on my own.

  2. I should not feel restricted with the storage limitation.

  3. Customer service and tech support should be excellent (I so know my capabilities).

The following picture gives an overview of the entire process.

Camera Nikon D800

This is my trusted camera. the above workflow can be with any camera.

During the photoshoots, I prefer having multiple 16 or 32 GB CF cards than having one with greater storage capability. This is a hedge against theft or card failure. The moment I am back to my computer, I transfer the photos to the desired destination drive.


I use Mac laptop but the same setup will obviously work with a desktop as well. This is mainly my working/operating interface that is super functional but inapt for my photo related storing needs as my files are too large for a laptop to handle, so an unavoidable external drive system comes into the picture.

Let's talk about the laptop's internal drives. Ideally one should set the computer to have 2 drives if you are working with software like photoshop that uses a scratch disk for the processing. Your computer system's internal drive is the fastest drive. How do these 2 parts of the internal drive function?

  1. Primary Internal Drive: holds the operating system, Lightroom, Lightroom catalogue, preferences, presets, plugins, your applications, files etc.

  2. Secondary Internal Drive: This comes in handy if one uses Photoshop extensively. This segregation makes your computer work faster and avoid the death wheel popup during processing large files.

This is not too difficult to do provided you are little tech savvy. My advise if in slightest doubt ask for an expert, as any mistake here will wipe out your entire data from the computer.

External Drive:

This is a never-ending debatable topic. There are too many options, all with their own positives and negatives. This is an area where I gladly resign and admit I don't know ( read as want to) much. To be very frank there is no point in overthinking on this point as long as you are going for a standard know industry leaders. In case you want to read more on this here are a few threads that I think will be helpful

  1. An article by TechRadar

  2. An article by Guru99

  3. An article by Lifewire

I have gone with Drobo. Why because it was very easy to use, had good reviews and was affordable. To explain what is Drobo I am going to copy paste an excerpt from their website as their technical writer has done an amazing job in explaining it:

Meet your new storage solution, the safe and expandable Drobo. It's so simple that anyone can use it, yet powerful enough for business. Drobo connects to your computer or network and provides redundant data protection without the complexities of a traditional RAID.

Simply expand storage at any time. Drobo stores up to 96TB, using any combination of 3.5" or 2.5” disk drives. The Drobo family offers ThunderboltTM 3, ThunderboltTM 2, USB 3.0, USB 3.0 Type-C, Ethernet, iSCSI, and other connectivity options, providing the data protection you need, along with the speed and interface you want.

Watch Drobo's explanatory video

So now that my external storage was sorted I was really happy and content that most of my data is quite safe. but I have yet not made it full proof. What for some reason, I lose access to my hard drive? eg. someone steals it or there is an earthquake or I am in a bad mood and decide to smash it with a hammer... Hence, I needed to complete that last link of the chain.

PS: Drobo does perform what it says. I have used 2 slots out of the 4. which means 1 is the main drive and the other is back up. One of the disks failed and when I replaced it with new without any issues everything was up and running.

Cloud Backup:

Well, this is the missing link that I had not been able to complete for past years. Reason being the data was too large to back it up using a wifi connection and there weren't services (that I knew) provided option to send physical copy of the hard drive for the clients located outside the USA, UK, or Australia (yeah the whole world is made up only of these countries). So I was stuck...

Before you say it, I know I am slow. I recently found out about IDrive cloud storage. Unlike CrashPlan, IDrive does offer a head start in backing up the data, meaning finally, I could send a copy of the hard drive to them and they will load the data on the cloud. once that is done then I can log in to the drive system on my computer and start using it as usual. Going forward, it will only update the data that is new or modified...and in the case, at home external hard drive fails I have a cloud back up from where I can restore all the data. Another advantage is if I have to access my files while I am travelling, I can download it from here IDrive.

Please don't ask why and how is this different from google drive. Actually, there is a lot of difference. I do use google drive extensively, but not for photo backup purpose. If you want to understand my reasons behind it, then read this article.

I will attempt to explain what is IDrive. Basically, it provides traditional backup, real-time backup, file sharing etc. IDrive is an automated backup application that runs on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Once installed, users select folders and files to be backed up at user-specified times. IDrive offers incremental and compressed backups so users only upload modified portions of a backup file.

Read this article by PCWorld to understand what is IDrive and to check all it's features and price plans, visit IDrive's official website.

Hope you have found my analogy interesting and helpful. Please leave comment or suggestions on how to improve my system even further.

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