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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Photographer: Back Up Your Work

May 20, 2016

This is most definitively a call to action – if you are reading this article, you must back up your work. Do it today. This is serious.

Backing up work is incredibly important, especially for anyone that considers themselves to be a professional. It should be done on a regular basis – ideally after every single shoot – and should be done in such a way that there are at least two copies of every single image stored in two separate places. Don’t know how to get started? Here is a quick guide as to how – and why – you can back up your work today.


The first question that you may ask is why you should back up your work. The reasons are simple, but also manifold. Firstly, consider what will happen if your main computer or laptop crashes and loses everything. It can happen very easily: a drink is knocked over, a motherboard is fried, a virus gets onto your system. The older or more well-used your computer is, the more likely it is that you might see everything disappear someday.

If you have everything backed up, this won’t be a worry. If, however, you only have that one place to store all of your files, then they are gone. All of them. Forever.

You can’t take that risk if you are a professional. What will you do with no portfolio? What about the clients waiting for those edits? Or the client that calls up a year from now asking if they can get a new copy of their images?

It’s also possible that your laptop or computer will fill up over time, making it run slower and eventually reaching the stage that you run out of space. With backups in place, you can delete those files from your system, knowing that you can get them back at any time.


Once upon a time we would have told you to back it up on an external hard-drive and leave it at that, but now the options are more diverse. At least one physical form of storage is recommended, but these days you can also use the cloud. If you have the space for it, you can back up as many files as you like to this virtual space.

There are certain considerations to think about – a hard-drive is useful even without the internet, and can also help your computer to run more smoothly. On the other hand, if there is a physical accident, it will be lost (for example, if the hard-drive is set on fire or dropped in water). With the cloud, you have a digital storage solution that won’t be affected by physical accidents, but you may run the risk of being hacked.


This question is probably the easiest to answer. There’s not necessarily a wrong way of backing up your files, but it will go a lot more smoothly if you have a clear system of organisation in place.

First, you need to organise everything into folders within your storage. It’s best if you mimic the same organisational structure as you have on your main computer, as this will help you to quickly check what has and hasn’t been backed up in the future. If you don’t have a good structure on your computer, there’s no time like the present to make one.

Copy everything onto your first storage system. If you are a professional photographer, shooting at large file sizes, you probably won’t want to waste time with any storage that offers less than 1 TB of space. You can get a good quality 2 TB external hard-drive for a decent price these days, so go for it – you’ll be better off getting bigger storage in the first place than running out of space too soon.

Next, copy everything into a second storage space. This is good practice because it keeps the important things safe. Your most recent and treasured shoots are backed up three times – on the two backups as well as your main computer. The things you aren’t so likely to need (old shoots, poor quality, no longer relevant) will just be backed up twice, with your main computer cleared down for space.

Keep a regular update schedule and stick to it. If you don’t do it regularly enough, you could still stand to lose a lot. Don’t let it happen to you – after the first time, you will realise how important it is, and there won’t be a second.