Magazine Article


Peer 2 Peer
Are You Backing Up Your Computer System?

We've all been warned countless times to back up our computer systems, but are we following this advice? In today's age of hard drives and thumb drives, CDs and DVDs, it's certainly easier to keep client files than it ever was before, and we can all agree that there is no greater embarrassment than losing a client's images. What steps are you taking to avoid such a sticky situation? Our Peer2Peer survey was sent out April 4 and ran for one week. Of our 1,400 respondents, 85% answered that they do regularly back up their systems. Here's what else we found…


• Of the 85% of our readers that back up their computer system, 98% of our respondents keep backup copies of images shot for client work.

• The majority of those that keep backup files store their copies on DVDs (31%), external hard drives (31%), and CDs (25%).

Click here to view PDF version of full article with survey results.

Quotable Quotes

"Backing up clients' files is critical. I normally burn two DVDs (other than the one I gave the client) and store them in different places. I also keep the most recent work in one or two external hard drives."
Ana Adams, Ana Adams Photography,
Miami, FL,

"I shot film for 30 years and stored my film in metal files. I make two copies of everything and keep one copy in my office and the other in my garage. I will keep them forever; I never toss anything out."
Larry Coleman, Cleveland Heights, OH

"I have stored and continue to store client images indefinitely. Whether you're using film or digital, external drives are cheap, making it feasible to store my photographs."
Avery Reid, Aphoto4u2, Canton, NC

"The biggest fear I have is losing a shoot due to storage failures. I refuse to erase my flash cards until the shoot is backed up on two RAID drives, Carbonite (offsite), and DVDs."
Michael Holeda, Matrix Digital Arts & Photography, Universal City, TX

"I feel it's critically important to back up client files in the event the client wishes to license additional images from a photo shoot or due to loss. I feel 12 months is long enough to store images; then you give the client an option of paying an archival/backup fee after this 12-month period expires."
Ryan Shapiro, freelance photographer

"Archiving is very important to me. Our older negative files date back about 36 years. We still get occasional requests for prints from our very early work, but most requests for prints naturally come from about five years back to the present. I like to archive to have a rich source of images that I can refer to in building digitally layered work."
Ken Webb, Nilsen & Webb Studio,
Chicago, IL,

"[It's] very important to make copies on CD or DVD for long-term storage, though I think in the near future, we'll be using another storage system. I store images almost like how I used to store negatives. I make a 'contact sheet' via Photoshop in pdf form, and store in 150-page 'binders.' I use archival CDs and DVDs. I hope they last at least a lifetime, [though] I know in the near future I will have to transfer it all into the current storage devices."
Leland Wong,
Fine Photography by Leland Wong,
San Francisco, CA,

"It's paramount to back up client files-they are really my files. I plan on permanent, long-term backup, as these files may have stock value as well."
Alan Farkas, Alan Farkas Photography,
Rochester, NY,

"For advertising clients, I keep files for the duration of the time granted in the usage rights plus one year (minimum one year). For architectural and engineering projects, as well as for other projects that I feel have special importance, I will keep the files archived as a DVD without any time constraints. Before digital, I would give all the best transparencies to the client and that was the end of that. When I would provide the scanned output, I would keep the film for the same amount of time as I keep the current digital output."
Paco Marquez, San Juan, PR