Lightroom: You Have a Bad Backup
Do you have a backup? The vast majority of the people do not even have a backup. My personal experience is that less than 1 in 10 people do have a backup. The problem is that people that claim to have a backup, actually have a bad backup! People claim that they have RAID 1, 5 or 10 or they use a Drobo box. Those are not backups.
The purpose of a backup is:
What's the cost of re-entering the data?
— Syv Ritch, http://www.foto-biz.com
- A guy, that I know, does weddings. He just raised his price from $199 to $249 per wedding. 2 hours, all the photos taken as JPEG in camera. He sends the photos as is (all the photos and no editing) to the bride/groom the next day as a DVD. He doesn't sell print, books... He doesn't keep any copy, he's not interested. He doesn't need a backup of these photos.
- A friend bought a MacBook Air, fully loaded, including the optional/required Apple Care. His keyboard fried, he took it to the "Genius Bar" at the Apple store, he needed also to have the hard drive replaced at the same time. The "same thing" that fried his keyboard also killed the hard drive. No problem, they keep the old hard drive and give him a new hard drive with just the basics (OS loaded.) "You have a backup, right?" No he didn't, so he had to pay for the new drive so he could keep it and send it for data recovery: $2,700 later...
For Jim, the value of a backup was $2,700 + 1 week of lost work until he got his Lightroom catalog and almost all of his photos back.
The purpose of the backup is to protect from:
- Hardware failure
- Software bug
Having a RAID hard drive system protects against some hardware failures, sometimes but not always. It does nothing against software bugs or user problems.
The Lightroom backup is not a backup. It's only a copy of the catalog that is stored somewhere on your computer/network. If the hard drive is gone, then both the catalog and the photos are also gone. The Lightroom backup doesn't deal with the photos, it only deals with the catalog.
Often, you will not notice that you have a problem until much later. I had problems with my computers. I had to go back to 3 month before I could find the last "good" backup where the files were not corrupted.
So back to the question, how do you know that you have a good backup? The backup software telling that the backup was "successfully" completed is not a valid answer because it doesn't prove it. The only way to "prove" that your backup is good is: To test it
- Close everything, that's Lightroom, email, web... everything
- Select a couple of files. Usually, I choose the Lightroom catalog and one photo
- Rename the catalog from
YOUR CATALOG NAME.LRCATto
YOUR CATALOG NAME.LRCAT.ORIGINAL
- Rename a photo from
and now restore them. If it works then it's a good backup, if it doesn't ...
But you won't know until you do it.
The other thing you need to know is: Backups in the real world and read the section on the "bare metal recovery."
For my backupS, I use:
- Every so often when hard drives are on sale, I buy a couple of them, and I rotate the backups between all the hard drives (I currently have 5 backup drives).
- I create a directory: 20120101 for 1-Jan-2012 and I copy all my data in there.
- The following week, I use another hard drive and create a directory 20120108 for 8-Jan-2012 and I copy all my data in there. I rotate my hard drives that way. I have a dozen backups.
- I just use the standard copy command, so I can restore easily on a new system without having to install new software. Yes, it takes more space, but space is cheap.
What about the cloud, aka, Internet backup? This could be a possibility instead of doing your own backup if and that's a big if, you can upload the data fast enough? On regular ADSL, it taked between 15 to 24 hours to upload a 16Gb card. On regular cable, it takes between 3 and 10 hours. Then the problems are:
- How private is it? If SOPA passes, it won't be private anymore. Just like China, Iran or Syria, the companies will be liable and will have to monitor and report the contents
- How safe is it from their own crashes?
- How do you know that they will be in business next year?