What happens when Facebook, Instagram and website hosting crashes all in the same day? In most cases panic and hysteria! I mean after all, we live in a digital world and for most of us, our most precious and most recent memories are saved somewhere online or in the cloud. I have a system I use so that when things go awry I am not left in a panic. Today on the blog, I am sharing my backup plan with you!
Let’s Dive in!
I use my iPhone to take 80% of my daily photos. The other 20% are taken using my Canon 5DMkIII. Here’s a breakdown of the process I use to make sure everything is backed up in multiple places and hopefully safe and accessible in the future.
PHONE BACKUP SYSTEM
Google Photos not iCloud
After doing some research into my options, I chose to use Google Photos as my photo backup source on my iPhone. I was frustrated that my iCloud was constantly filling up and my hard drive was always full on my computer. I honestly never understood the whole iCloud business because it felt like there was never any way to actually view, manage and use the photos sent there. It is my understanding that the iCloud is really just a means of syncing and sharing your files across several apple products (i.e. iPhone, iPad, computer) and is not something you should rely upon as a main backup source.
I downloaded the Google Photos App on my phone and set it up using autosync to backup all of my photos on my phone. Here’s how to do it! It may take a few hours (or in my case) days to get caught up initially, but every day now, my photos are backed up automatically.
If you are an Amazon Prime member or have a significant number of larger sized image files and videos - you can consider Amazon Photos for your backup source. I haven’t made the switch yet, but here is an article I found helpful when researching my options.
I have signed up to IFTTT (If This Then That), an online service where you can set up formulas for backing up your content. I use it to backup my Instagram posts and favorite hashtags I follow. These photos are automatically sent to a special folder I have on Dropbox.
I use Chatbooks to print my cell phone photos. I have set up a folder in my camera roll called Favorites. Using this folder, I connected it to a subscription with Chatbooks to automatically print a hardcover photo book every 60 images with my favorite images from my phone.
I take thousands of pictures a year, so these books get sent to print often. Chatbooks gives you a 3 day grace period to go into the app and select which of those favorites in your favorites album you want to print in the final book. It takes just a few minutes a week and I have an incredible backup catalogue of my favorite cell phone pics.
One other perk is you can create a schedule for your subscription so that you get 1 book / month or any other frequency you wish. I recently took advantage of their 40% off sale and caught up and printed 25 of my latest books. Their customer service is top notch, so if you have any questions or issues, always reach out to them to solve it! They can even pause your account for a bit while you get organized. You can also select to add up to 5 bonus prints (5x5” square prints) to your order if you’d like! I use these to add to my daughter’s baby book.
It feels so incredible to know these moments are saved not just in the digital world anymore. When I have time, I plan to handwrite captions in my printed Chatbooks so that my future generations can experience my world through my view. If handwriting isn’t your thing, you have the option to type captions or print full page photos instead.
I also have a separate subscription setup to print my Instagram posts every 60 posts with the captions included from each post. This is a great way to make sure that Instagram is backed up as well. I will share a later post more about all of the greatness about Chatbooks, but if you want to know more now, check them out here! Using my link you can get $10 off your first book.
I have a Lifetime Premium Subscription to Tinybeans, because I am basically obsessed with this family photo sharing app. I try to load my photos, videos and stories daily but sometimes do bulk catch ups for a few weeks at a time when things get crazy. Using this app, my family and closest friends are signed up to receive updates when I post. On their phone or computer, they can log into Tinybeans and can view, comment and love on all of the memories we are creating.
My family is spread across the country and this app has allowed us to have an incredible relationship where they literally watch our daughter grow and experience the world daily, without me having to blast all of our private moments on Facebook or Instagram. I can’t scream from the rooftops loud enough about how much I love Tinybeans. Using my affiliate link, you can try Tinybeans Premium for 1 month free. I swear you’ll fall in love!
My favorite moments from my cell phone are all backed up here when I load them to the app. I could also load my “real camera” photos and videos from my desktop if I wanted to, but rarely do. Since this post is all about backing up - I try, at a minimum, to catch up and download an actual backup of all of my Tinybeans memories annually.
The backup exports as a .zip file organized monthly with the video and photo files and a separate export of all of the captions and family comments. The backup also sends a .html file with an interactive calendar view of my tinybeans account by month. You can click on each day individually and see the full day of memories as they looked on the App as well.
In the future, I’ll share more about the great features of Tinybeans specifically, but I am always happy to chat more about this wonderful product - so comment below if you’ve got any questions!
I am a professional photographer by day / mama taking an excessive amount of photos of my life by “all other moments of the day.” I use my “real camera” to capture higher quality images and video clips that I ideally print annually in a yearbook and use to create annual family video reels. I have only done a few albums and videos, but hope to catch up “when I have more time.” So having a backup system is critical to ensuring the memories are there when I need them!
I use a Canon 5dMkIII to capture my photographs. This camera has a dual card reader that allows you to record your footage to 2 memory cards at the same time. I always do this as an instant backup to taking photos. I use SanDisk Extreme Pro Memory Cards (both CF and SD.) I have dozens of memory cards so that I can keep original images on the cards until I have backed up the final favorite keeper images on multiple sources.
External Hard Drives
I try to load my memory card photos to an external hard drive as soon as possible after shooting - usually at night after the baby has gone to bed. I am obsessed with the Lacie Rugged 4TB External Hard drives. I use these drives every single day. They serve as my “main” external hard drive for active files and then I have extra ones for backup purposes.
For more about how I organize and use my images - check out my blog post here. Once my photos are edited and the favorite final images are exported, I will delete the images off my memory cards.
Dropbox & Online Galleries
I use Dropbox as my cloud based storage for my digital files and favorite photos. I have upgraded to a premium business account to have over 1TB of memory access. I am in the habit of sharing my “best of” personal photos to a folder I have created organized by year on Dropbox.
I also try to load all of my favorite images to an online gallery I have created for my family. I use Pixieset to deliver my professional photos to clients, and set up a gallery for our family to use as well. All of my “real camera” favorite photos are backed up here a few times a year.
The best back up to digital photos is hard copy prints. I try to print all of my favorite photos at the end of the year. I use Costco to load hundreds of photos and have them shipped to my house at the end of the year. In an ideal world, these photos get put into an album with sleeves and room for captions. I am very behind on this task right now.
I also try to print an annual press printed photo album with my favorite “best of” photos every year. I am a busy mama raising a 2 year old daughter and have only just made our first album through Blurb. I hope to catch up for previous years and vacations as time allows. But for now these images are all backed up and organized and are waiting for when I am ready.
When I was writing this blog post, I basically inventoried my whole process and system for backing up my life. In doing so, I realized I haven’t created a backup of my video files captured on my “real camera.” Only my cell phone videos are backed up (on google photos and Tinybeans.) That freaked me right out because I have some incredible moments captured that I would be devastated to lose.
Luckily, it took just a few minutes to back these files up. For all of my video files, I put them in one folder annually. Inside that folder, I create separate folders by date of capture with a description of what we did in those videos. It was as simple as moving a copy of the Movies folder over to a new external backup drive that I purchased for 2019. Phew. That’s done!
PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS & MISC. SOURCES
If you have ever had your photos taken by a professional photographer or have received a link to download your photos from someone (i.e. school portraits, wedding photos, annual christmas card photos etc.), we need to talk!
Have you downloaded these photos from the link you got? Have you printed the photos? Do you know the password to get in? Can you access these files quickly if you want to?
I am only asking this because, yes I am a pro photographer who sends dozens of links to such galleries each year to my clients, but I am also a consumer. I have wedding photos and family photos sent to us from photographer’s we have hired to document precious moments of our lives.
I recently made my wedding album (5 years later.) I have my images from the wedding downloaded in several places and also backed up online through the Online Pass Gallery shared with me from our photographer. When I went to access my wedding images, I realized that the hard drives I have my photos backed up on use a USB or Thunderbolt connection. My new computer doesn’t have a port for either USB or Thunderbolt. It doesn’t even have a CD drive. This was ok, I thought, because my photos were backed up online in the cloud Pass Gallery.
I learned quickly, that although my photos were viewable online in the cloud Pass Gallery, I couldn’t quickly download the high res files. Since more than 1 year had elapsed since our initial gallery was created, these files were sent to “deep storage.” It took more than 12 hours to get the final link to download the files I selected. Luckily they were still available, but this seriously hindered my ability to just sit down and start making my album.
This leads me to my final Back Up suggestion:
Create an Annual System to Update Technology
Technology is literally changing every day. CD’s, USB’s, Thunderbolts, are all a “thing” of the past. It is important to make sure that you assess your arsenal of memories and create a system of backing up your back up every year using the newest technology. Also, try to remind yourself not to throw out all of the accessories to your old backups (i.e. cord connections and hardware.)
Luckily, you can get just about anything online now a days, so if you find yourself in a jam without a cord to connect your old external hard drive, search google for the cord you need or dongle adapter that will help you convert your old cord to the newer technology.
This was another huge post! Thanks for sticking through it to the end. If you haven’t yet - be sure to download your FREE Backup Plan Worksheet!