Digital CowBoyz

The images we create as photographers are worth their weight in gold!! wait, that was a poor metaphor considering a digital image is virtually weightless..... but you get the idea. The works we construct during our digital workflows can be worth many $$$$$$ or be completely priceless in the form of childhood and family memories. With the increasing ease of image creation, digital files are constantly pushed to virtual space by our favourite cell phones, or alternatively a pro level medium format camera with all the bells and whistles. One thing we all have in common is that with each captured image we are filling up our digital libraries and they are growing virally, and I think its time to shine some light on the unthinkable. 

Would you be prepared if you came home tonight or tomorrow night to find your house ransacked and all your electronics looted including your beloved computer with all your precious creations? or maybe a one in a thousand power surge fried your machine while working late last Friday?

No matter how careful, lucky or naive you think you might be, it never hurts to backup your work and prepare of the worst. Everyone needs to work out for themselves what degree of protection they require and something is always better than nothing, but how should you go about it without breaking the piggy bank.

So what do you do?

The way I see it you will fall into one of two categories, 

The Digital Cowboys

So you say you bought a server grade hard disk and think it will never fail, or maybe you invested in a solid state disk and live on cloud nine. Well let me leave you with this 'all electronics fail, it is just a matter of time, temperature, humidity and read/write cycles', you have been warned !!

Look at the globes current events, there are storms, earthquakes and tsunami's constantly coming up in the news. Have you ever considered what might happen if your home is next? What will happen to your storage medium then? I sure would like to see your locally stored data tackle mother nature and come out on top. Maybe none of this concerns you in which case you truly are a 'Digital Cowboy' and I commend your bravery.

The Digital Sage

You are a well educated computer and network savvy individual who prides himself in a combination of NAS backups and full blown blade servers warming your house all year round. You wear the name 'Digital Sage' proudly and have backups for your backup, not including the secret copy hidden in your grans sock draw hundreds of kms away. 


When it's time to replace and restore stollen or broken Bits and Bytes nothing is more than a mouse click away. Sleep comes easy since there is nothing which you haven't accounted for and every eventuality has been ticked off your digital panic list.

But when your monthly credit card bill comes in the mail it becomes apparent you might have gone a little over the top and are now deeply in debt..... OOOOOPS....

The Pack and Save Option

Ok, so maybe there is a third category, the sensible one. Backup solutions come in a variety of shapes and sizes, picking which one is right for you is not easy. Personally, I prefer to be spending my hard earned $$ on developing my imagery and community projects rather than a complex, boring data solution sitting at the office.

It took me alot of research until I came across a company with a solution capable of catering to all users (do a google search for 'super flexible file synchronizer'). SFFS for short is multi platform running on both Mac and Windows, which is key to my workflow. This backup solution allows for software controlled backups and pushes to cloud storage if you want it too (a feature which doesn't suit me for various reasons).  It handles multiple drives, allows for select file type backups, and allows for one click mirroring with dynamic file change monitoring and the typical scheduled approach. Do stop by and check out their website,

Backup on A4

In the long run their asking price of $60 USD is pretty easy to swallow and it really works as advertised. Now all you need is a couple of USB drives and you are away. After you have configured the backup profiles, which have step by step instructions from basic to advanced, you can pretty much forget about them and know your files are always right where you want them. 

Now for an example, its a little bit hard to explain how my personal backup system works, so I thought a diagram might be best (see the below pic, excuse the messy hand writing and my fountain pen drawing skills).

Feel free to copy my backup method, its no secret!! I hope this leaves you with some confidence in setting up your own solution and helps you stay protected at a reasonable cost.

- Sven