Digital wedding photography presents special challenges to the every day wedding photographer. The risk of losing the precious wedding moments of a couple brings nightmares and anxiety to most photographers that I know.
As a professional wedding photographer and a certified computer systems administrator I will offer some recommendations about the best way to protect digital wedding images.
1. Star by formatting the flash cards and/or micro drives in the camera that you will use to take the photos. Even when it is possible to format the flash cards in your computer using a flash card reader it can lead to compatibility issues and data loss.
2. Although flash cards are very resistant to abuse it is always better to play it safe and keep them away from shock, heat, and magnetic sources.
3. Once you return from the wedding download the images to your computer. Once they are downloaded, browse through the images to ensure they were successfully downloaded and then create backups to CD and/or DVD. Never browse through your images on the Flash card. In our studio we create two DVD copies of the files and we also copy them to two different hard drives on different computers. One of the DVD copies is stored at a different location.
4.A Computer RAID (Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks offers a great deal of fault tolerance to protect your data. There are several levels of RAID and each of them offers different levels of data protection. For practical and common implementation I am going to discuss the most common types of RAID:
·Level 1: Mirroring and Duplexing: requires two drives and the data is written (mirror) on the two drives simultaneously. If one of the drives fails the data can be recovered from the good drive.
·Level 5: Block Interleaved Distributed Parity: This is one of the most common and solid implementations of RAID. It requires a minimum of 3 drives and allows the data to be written across all of the drives. If one of them fails you simply replace the failed drive and the RAID is automatically rebuilt.
Most operating systems allow you to build some form of RAID however if the OS fails you also lose the RAID. The recommended RAID is trough the use of a RAID card.
5. Tape backup offers a very solid way of backing up your files and operating system. It has been around for a long time and has proved to be the most reliable form of backup. Tapes are very portable and make the storage at outside locations very convenient. Tape backups require a backup program what makes scheduling backups and automating the process easy.
6. Offsite FTP Backups Can also be set automated using computer programs. At a set time interval or continuously the computer that holds the data connects to a remote location server and uploads the files. The main disadvantage is that they create a lot of Internet traffic and in the case of wedding photographers that store gigabytes of images the transfer time can become prohibitive.
In Part 2 I will discuss additional strategies to protect your beautiful wedding photos.