Believe it or not, digital data is fragile. It can be accidentally lost because you press the delete button on your beloved camera, or the memory card gets corrupted — making all photographs you've taken suddenly inaccessible.
A photographer for years, I've made several heartbreaking mistakes that led me to lose those precious pictures. I've also witnessed the fear and panic of friends who have lost data for all kinds of reasons.
In this post, I am going to share the tips and tricks I've learned along the way for protecting digital photographs so you never have to worry about data loss. While some tips may require changing existing behaviors or take extra time, they're definitely worth it considering the value of your data.
Let's jump right in.
A 1TB hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) will cost you very little compared to the value of the files you’ve spent days, or even years, to collect. You can get one easily from Amazon or a local electronic shop. Then once in awhile, backup the pictures and videos you have recently taken. If you want to save space, choose to backup only those that excite you — those you can't risk to lose by any means.
Everything has a lifespan and sometimes hard drives go bad for no discernable reason. Thus it's worth investing a bit on some online backup services. You may have heard about Dropbox — which offers a few gigabytes for free, or Google Drive — offering 15 GB for free. It's also inexpensive to upgrade and unlock more space. Beware that you choose a reliable service provider.
If you are a professional photographer who is hired to shoot a private party, it’s your responsibility to make sure the moments won’t be leaked as well as keep them safe. As a result, in addition to the normal timely backup, go one step further and password-protect related folders. Luckily it’s not rocket-science to do that. For example, Western Digital (WD) drive always has the option for owners to set an access passcode. Mac computers also come with this function. See this video:
It can be tempting to just plug out your camera memory out of a computer for the sake of time, not knowing if the data transfer is still in progress. Not only is this detrimental to the data, but it could cause the card to be corrupted. According to SanDisk, the root cause of 80% of media errors is users removing it out without setting the removable media controller option for "safe writes" instead of "max performance".
Sometimes it's just inevitable to press a wrong button or format the whole card by accident, causing all data being removed instantly. However, it's never too late to get them back provided that no additional writing activities happen to the card — which means you must stop taking photos and, if you safely can, remove the card. You can then use a data recovery tool to retrieve the data. Thanks to technology, in most cases it works amazingly well.
It is recommended to do so every time you get a new flash card prior to a shoot. Due to the complexities of drive formatting (quick format, low-level format, etc.) in a computer, the card file system can act weirdly in a camera if you’ve formatted it in a PC or Mac. Bottom line - never erase or format your cards with a computer.
Especially when the computer is publicly accessible, for instance, in a library or a printing shop. You never know if the computer is virus-free or not. A USB malware can turn your memory card files into shortcuts or even worse, damaged your flash card as a result.
Everything will go bad sooner or later. Cards are no exception; consider that cards are tiny and fragile, easily lost or damaged. If you believe in the theory of probability investing in several smaller, yet cheaper, ones will surely decrease the chances of data accessibility problems.
They store all your photos every time you press the shoot button, why shouldn't you pay them back? It is simple. Take a few minutes to read the manufacturer's manual for tips. Do not expose the cards in static environment as it's detrimental to its function. Use a plastic case to store the cards.
We all live in the digital age. Digital photography technology is pervading our lives faster than ever. Millions of photos are taken every few seconds across thousands of digital cameras. While we are enjoying the beautiful shots we get, it's worthwhile to think of how to keep the data safe so we don't have regrets.
Again, these tips are the lessons I've personally learned in my photography career. I trust they are useful to you and hopefully you've started to implement some of them.
Anyway, I would love to know what you think. Leave a comment below or share this article with friends.
Helen is an enthusiastic photographer and entrepreneur based in Bay Area. As much as she's been into technology, she also loves blogging and helping people tackle tech issues.