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Website Tips & Tutorials | Harddrive Failure Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for setting up a solid backup system to prevent data loss in case your hard drive fails. Harddrive failure could happen tomorrow, next month or 2 years down the road causing you to lose all of your files and images. Don’t wait for that random occurrence to happen. Protect your work! Below are some preventative steps to ensure your files will be safe in the event of a harddrive failure. These guidelines below have been provided by which is a website dedicated to digital photography best practices and workflow.

Primary vs. Backups

It may sound obvious, but you can’t create a good backup strategy until you know what you’re backing up. Therefore you need to designate a primary copy of the data before you create backups. If there is no primary copy, your backup system will always feel like a mess.

At each stage of an image’s lifecycle, you need to know which is the primary copy of the data.

The 3-2-1 Rule

The simplest way to remember how to back up your images safely is to use the 3-2-1 rule.

  • We recommend keeping 3 copies of any important file (a primary and two backups)
  • We recommend having the files on 2 different media types (such as hard drive and optical media), to protect against different types of hazards.*
  • 1 copy should be stored offsite (or at least offline).

Backup software

To keep your images safe, you’ll need to run the appropriate backup software to manage the process. Backup software might be included with your operating system, but most of this is not geared to the problems encountered by professional photographers. There are several different types of tasks that backup software can perform. Some programs can do nearly all types of backup, and some types only do one or two. Here are the categories:

Basic mirror

The simplest kind of backup, basic mirror software can create a duplicate of the primary copy in a new location. There are a number of different ways that mirrors can be implemented.

Compressed mirror

In a compressed mirror backup, the files are copied to a new location, and then are compressed into a single gigantic file.

Mirror plus incremental backup

In this method, an original copy of the data is updated by remembering changes to files. This can let the user “roll back” to different versions of the data.

Bootable clone

This mirror backup contains all the invisible configuration files necessary to let the computer boot up from the copy. Some software creates a compressed bootable copy of the drive that must first be extracted to a new drive before being used.
Read more about mirror configurations

To read more about backing up your work visit:

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