Baby Picture Backup Strategy

It’s been a little while since I went geeky, and since this is the first week when I can truly call myself a “geeky dad,” I thought I’d put up a post about my backup strategy for all those wonderful baby pictures and videos we took in the hospital when Abby was born.

I should say up front that I take backups quite seriously. The little Christmas Eve data loss nightmare from two months ago weighed heavily on my conscience. I had backups in place, but my whole plan failed then. I could not let that happen to these once-in-a-lifetime pictures! I was snapping pics of Abby as soon as she was exposed to open air. There’s no way to recapture those moments if a drive or backup failed. So, I left nothing to chance.

My photo gear consisted of my iPhone 3G camera for quick, easily emailed pictures; my basic Kodak Easy Share C613 point-and-shoot; and my Flip Ultra mini camcorder. The hospital had great WiFi coverage, so I managed these devices and files with my MacBook in the hospital room throughout the week.

Geeky Dad at Work

Geeky Dad at Work

At least once a day while we were in the hospital, I copied the files off the cameras and onto my MacBook. I did not delete the files off of the devices when I copied them. That alone gave me two copies of everything.

Next, I moved all of the files on the MacBook into a single folder called “Abby Pics.” I used Microsoft’s excellent Live Sync service to instantly (and wirelessly) sync the contents of that folder with all of my other machines. That gave me two more copies of all these files—one on my home iMac and another on my work iMac—without me ever leaving the rocking chair at the hospital. That brought the total number of copies to four.

Then, I logged in to my home iMac from my MacBook at the hospital using MobileMe’s “Back to My Mac” feature. Remotely controlling the iMac, I initiated a Time Machine backup, which copied the new files from the freshly synced Live Sync folder onto my Time Machine backup drive. That was backup copy number five.

Once that was done, and while I was still remotely logged in to my iMac, I initiated a total system backup to my second backup hard drive using Super Duper. I use Time Machine for regular incrimental backups, but I use Super Duper once a week to clone my iMac’s entire internal hard drive. That’s the best solution for making perfect, bootable copies of Mac drives, in my opinion. And, it’s free! This gave me backup copy number six.

Once I felt sure everything was safe enough for me play a little bit, I uploaded the pictures to my MobileMe web gallery. That allowed me to show off pictures of my daughter to all of you (that’s the photo page of this website), while also saving my pictures to MobileMe’s web servers. That’s a great layer of off-site backup, and it gave me copy number seven.

Last, for good measure, I copied all the files onto my 4gb Sandisk thumb drive that always resides in my left front pants pocket. That’s not the most elegant solution, but it works. This rounded out my backups at copy number eight.

So there you go. Within an hour of taking my daughter’s first pictures and videos, I had eight perfect digital copies on multiple computers, hard drives, and flash drives. I think that’ll do.

Don’t risk your important data! Backup, backup in multiple ways to multiple places, and do it regularly! You only get one shot at these precious moments, and losing them will make you want to jump out a window. Or, at the very least, it will make your wife throw you out a window. Actually, that would probably hurt just a little bit more.

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2 Responses to Baby Picture Backup Strategy

  1. Troy says:

    The only problem I’ve found with making so many backup copies of photos is that unless you follow the same exact backup routine every single time, you won’t always have all the pictures in each place. I’ll remember a great photo from a year ago and have to wonder: did that make it to the desktop backup? Or maybe it’s on the website, or the photo gallery, or the backup of the photo gallery…

  2. Allen says:

    I get around that by making my home iMac “home base.” It is the media hub of the house. All other machines and drives are considered backups. Sadly, there’s no easy way to sync iPhoto libraries across multiple Macs (a stupid, stupid situation), so I occasionally just overwrite my MacBook iPhoto library file with the one on the iMac. It’s where I manage, name, arrange, etc. all the pictures.

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