I have received plenty of requests from clients to resend photos and/or videos to them well after the photo shoot is completed. Whether the listing is being rejuvenated and going back on the market, or the agent needs photos for some new marketing material, there are good reasons to backup photos and videos for future retrieval.
When I first started my business I was running my website on the BlueHost platform. After I started to grow, the tech/geek side in me wanted to jump to something more substantial, so I ended up switching to Linode. One of the down sides of the switch was I lost the unlimited storage space that I had with BlueHost.
I set up some scripts to notify me when my server space was running out, and I would archive past photo shoots. I usually would only keep ~2 months of photo shoots online for agents to access through their account on my website. Over time, I would receive requests from agents to re-upload their photos to their accounts so they could download them for various reasons.
Pssst… If you are curious about my client backend, head on over to ViewShoot and sign up for the email list. I’m transitioning to a new platform and will be allowing other real estate photographers to have the same convenience I have – a content management system just for real estate shoots!
I think it’s important to have a backup strategy to protect your work. Even if you are using a web host that has unlimited storage, I would recommend finding at least one other method of backing up your files in case something catastrophic were to happen with your web hosting account. Let’s take a look and see how I do it.
The first place I store everything is locally. I keep about 2 weeks worth of photo shoots on my local computer where I do all of my editing. This allows for easy access in the immediate future if an agent has an issue with photos, etc. I don’t really count this as a form of backup however, because the length of time that I keep files stored on my local system is rather short.
My main local storage method is using a Hard Drive Enclosure. Specifically, I’m using a Mobius 5-Bay Hard Drive Enclosure (Amazon Affiliate Link). As the name suggests, it holds five hard drives and you can set them up in different configurations. The method I chose is called RAID-5. In non-confusing terms, what happens in this configuration is if a hard drive goes bad, I can replace it with a new one and my data will be able to be saved/recovered.
I took it one step further thanks to the Mobius functionality, by setting up a hot spare. Out of the 5 drive bays that are available, I initially configured 4 drives. After setup was complete, I added a 5th drive that acts as the hot spare. Should one of the 4 main drives fail, the 5th drive will automatically take over without my intervention. It’s one less thing I have to worry about if the unthinkable happens and a drive goes bad.
The hard drives I’m using are 3TB HGST Deskstar NAS drives (Amazon Affiliate Link). With 4 of them active, I have a total of 9TB of space available (the total amount of space that’s usable in a RAID-5 configuration is the total drives minus one). They make them in various other sizes so you can go higher or lower. I would recommend however that you use drives specifically made for NAS (network-attached storage) systems.
Note: I use Mac, so I needed to purchase a Thunderbolt to eSata adapter, and so far the Kanex Thunderbolt to eSata Adapter (Amazon Affiliate Link) has been fantastic.
As the saying goes, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket! Anything at any moment can happen to my Mobius system. If two drives happen to fail at once, I lose everything in the blink of an eye. You simply can’t rely and trust on one form of backup. To supplement my local storage, I use online storage.
I have a DropBox account, but when Amazon came out with their Amazon Cloud Drive (Amazon Affiliate Link) I was curious to give it a shot. I signed up for the 3-Month Trial and continued my membership after it was over. At the time of this writing it costs $59.99/year for the Unlimited Storage plan. Store anything you want, for $59.99/year! That blows my mind, it’s so cheap! And for peace of mind that your files are stored online with a trusted source, it’s well worth the investment!
When you sign up for Amazon Cloud Drive you can download their desktop app. To backup files, I drag my entire shoot directory to the app and let it upload. (You can read all about how I manage my files/folders in a previous blog post.) I can then view all of my shoots in the Cloud Drive website and download anything that I need to recover.
What do you use for storage/backup? If you don’t have anything in place currently I would highly suggest you come up with a plan to store your files in multiple locations. You’ll feel much better when you are able to retrieve photos for a client that are 5 months old and already deleted from your local computer!