The Passionate Photographer: Paranoid About Back-Ups

There has never been a better time than now to be a photographer. The tools and technology at our fingertips let us shoot amazing quality images with few limits. Having great images is the goal, but keeping them— safeguarding them for the future is also a top priority for me.

I am paranoid when it comes to maintaining my photographic archive. I travel more than 100 days a year and it is crucial that the images I create on the road come back with me, safe and sound.

Depending on the length  of my assignment,  I take a variety of  LaCie  drives. I have chosen LaCie after a couple of years of use, for their reliability and super-cool design. Now I have a relationship with the company and the great people I have met within it, who are as passionate about digital security as I am, making me even more of a fan and proud to have their support. I don’t care what hard drive manufacturer you choose, all hard drives can fail so redundant back up is the mantra for a digital photographer. Here’s how this photographer, paranoid about backing things up, uses LaCie drives to insure safe passage of his imagery.

The new Rugged Raid 4TB drive has a few things I love. First of all, for a prolific shooter like myself, 4TB is a comforting amount of storage. I don’t have to worry about not having enough space on most shoots.

That said, I prefer to configure to Raid 1. The 4TB drive is actually two- 2 TB drives inside the stylish and rugged orange rubber casing.

Raid 1 essentially splits the 4TB drive into it’s two 2TB drives so when I download my images, it immediately makes a mirror copy for an instant back up. If one 2TB drive should happen to fail, the data on the other drive is safe and available.

On a long, extended assignment, I might configure choose Raid 0, giving me essentially one big, fast 4TB drive.

Another thing I love about the Rugged drives aside from the storage, speed and durability is the built in thunderbolt cord.

Rugged Raid 4TB

One of my photographic pet-peeves is the number of cords, wires and battery chargers I’m forced to take on the road with me to keep my technology running smoothly. With the new Rugged series drives not having to worry about misplacing, forgetting or losing my connecting thunderbolt cord is a stress relief. It’s a genius move, a little design touch that makes a big positive difference to the user, something LaCie is known for.

Once I’ve safely uploaded my SanDisk cards to my Rugged 4TB in Raid 1, I have two copies of the shoot. I then make a third copy, transferring the files to my LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2  1TB.

This little gem is state of the art in speed and security. Thunderbolt is plenty fast, Thunderbolt 2 is crazy fast and SSD drives are probably the most secure drives, having no moving parts allowing them to take a bit more abuse than traditional hard drives. For a traveling photographer I think they are a well worth the investment.

Because the LaCie Little Big Disk is Thunderbolt 2, I use it to edit, getting the maximum performance and speed, using my beloved Aperture software using the photos as referenced files. (Aperture is going away and I’m still contemplating my next move, any suggestions?).

By the way, I don’t put my memory cards back into my shooting rotation after transferring the images. Instead, I keep an “exposed card wallet” which I carry with me.


I’m not worried about my LaCie drives failing as much as I am losing the drive itself. Investing in more memory cards gives me added security, should I have a theft or loss of a drive on the road, it’s comforting to have all my exposed cards on my person. My equipment is all insured, but there is no replacing lost images.

So I basically have a four-fold back up system while on the road. My rugged Raid 1 makes two mirrored copies. My LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 drive stores another back up and the exposed memory cards I carry with me are the forth.

Once back home, I upload my shoot from the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 drive to my “holding tank”, a 12TB 2Big Thunderbolt 2 Drive. It has plenty of space for me to hold my shoot along with other data and it’s Thunderbolt 2 connection means it’s lightening fast, letting me tweak and finish my edit on my iMac in the comfort of my home office.

It’s important for me that my edit be thorough since I don’t want to miss a great shot, which is easy to do if you’re not methodical and thorough in your process. Also, by trusting my editing process, when I get a call from a client requesting an image a year or two later, I won’t have to go through the thousands of images again because I know my original rating system is solid and complete.

12TB 2Big Thunderbolt 2 Drive

After I’ve signed off on the edit, I transfer the images from the holding tank 12TB 2Big Thunderbolt 2 to my archive drive, the equally lighting fast 5 Big 30 TB Thunderbolt 2. This is the place where my entire life’s work of digital imagery lives.

I make a duplicate copy to my second 5 Big 30 TB Thunderbolt 2 drive which I then return to it’s offsite location. Important to have your archive in at least two separate locations. What I love about these massive storage tanks is the safety of Raid 5 or 6, which allows me to swap out a drive if it fails without losing one bit of information.

5 Big 30 TB Thunderbolt 2

For a prolific photographer like me, these big storage solutions make sense but all photographers are faced with a growing archive and being able to maintain up to 25TB (with Raid 5) in a single unit —is a wonderful thing.

Lastly, I have a LaCie 5big NAS Pro where I export my 4 and 5 star images so I have access to my best work at anytime, from anywhere in the world. As a professional, the NAS Pro is a good investment which can make you money when you get a call for an image while you’re on the road. With the NAS Pro, high-res versions of my best work is always accessible. I recently picked up a

where I plan to have my entire archive available to me remotely. With its USB 3.0 connection it will be faster for me to move more data to it.

Seagate NAS PRO 24TB

So there you have it. I trust LaCie with my most important material possession: a photographic lifetime of work. Let me know how you back up your stuff and if you have any suggestions. This is an on-going process for all of us.

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