Taking photographs for a living means that we have to take steps to save and protect our clients' valuable memories. I've found myself in a personal meltdown on a couple of occasions when I - GASP - lost client images! One time in particular, we photographed a national mommy organization's event and lost every single image because we inadvertently formatted a disk we thought we downloaded to the PC. I cried like a baby and felt like crawling into a hole, never to see the light of day again.
Then we lost 6 months of our then two year old's life ... videos, photographs ... gone. In this case, it was a hard drive crash. The thing just bricked. We haven't looked into data recovery options on that yet, but are hopeful we can retrieve some of the data. Yet, data recovery is an expensive option, especially when you're looking at tens, if not hundreds, of gigabyte's of data.
Through the years, we've learned to be methodical in backing up and archiving our images. Still, our greatest vulnerability to data loss starts in our camera itself. Our camera writes to a single SD memory card. If that card becomes corrupt or simply stops working (had that happen a few times, too), then your data becomes inaccessible. In one instance, we had a card stop working that had client images locked within it. We paid for some data recovery software, which was (luckily) able to access, read and pull most of the data from the card. PHEW!
Our current camera model has two SD card slots, which can be used in two ways: as a continuous storage space for your photos, or split so that images written to one are immediately backed up to the second. We'd have to have two disks to fail at once to lose data using the write system this way.
When we get our images back to the office, we import them onto our PC. The process of importing images is largely automatic, but we have the option to copy images to a separate drive/folder while importing them. We always do this. That way we have a complete set on two different drives, in case one fails. In fact, we have two large drives on our PC dedicated solely to images - complete images of one another. Then ... for good measure, we have an external drive, which contains a triplicate set of the images.
We try to back up client images as we edit them. We may edit a dozen or so, then save them in duplicate. When finished, the complete edited set will be saved in triplicate. The external drive is something we'd grab in the case of an emergency - it's portable and contains all the data we need. We understand there are some risks to this set up - if there was a disaster back here at the office then we could lose considerable data. We're looking into cloud options, which are getting more and more inexpensive. Every six months or so, we'll pull a large drive out of our fireproof/waterproof safe and back up the data there.
As you can imagine, all of this backing up requires considerable hard drive space. We have about 2 TB of client image data currently, and it's growing.
We always tell our clients to back up their images. You never know when disaster will strike, a hard drive will fail, parts of files may become corrupt, and you may lose important data. At the very least, we recommend backing up to an external drive, one which you can place in a fireproof/waterproof safe or give to a family member or friend (someone not on your street). Or, back up to a cloud.