A few years ago I wrote a blog post about World Backup Day.  (read about it here).  Now, a few years later I think it’s about time that this topic is revisited as we once again land on World Backup Day.  If you don’t back up your work in at least two places; you should.  Two years ago I wrote about the Lacie 4TB Thunderbolt RAID, and about how much I liked it.  I shouldn’t use past tense, however, because not only do I still like this drive, but I still use TWO of them daily.  They have never failed me, and I have no intention of replacing them anytime soon. This post is going to talk about how I use them, and then what I do with my life’s work as well and keeping it safe and sound, as well as how I access it from anywhere.

2005- Nikon D70s, 400ISO, Nikon 28-100F3.5-5.6@28mm. 4 seconds@F7.1. Camera supported by a Manfrotto Tripod

First off, the Lacie Rugged RAID drives.  I have one of them set up in RAID configuration and the other I have set up to use the FULL 4 Terabytes of space with maximum speed.  Along with a USB-C adapter, this drive makes an excellent extension to my MacBook Pro’s hard drive giving me a read/write of around 230mb/s each way which are the speeds I tested two years ago.  Most of my current work stays on BOTH of these drives while I am out in the field. This is both the files that I am currently working on, and anything in the last few months that I have worked on for save keeping.  That stuff is almost always with me on assignment or even just out and about on date night.  (No, the drives don’t have a seat at the table… they usually just wait in the car).

(2018-Nikon D750, 50ISO, Nikon 28-300F4.5-5.6@150mm, 30 seconds@F16. Light painting using Streamlight Stylus pen lights, white for the visible Rose for 3 seconds then rolling the focus to close focus, green on the other roses for 6 seconds, blue on the background for 4 seconds, and the red stream on the background for 1 second. Camera supported by a Benro C48XL tripod with a Manfrotto Ball head.)

The Lacie drives have always performed flawlessly, and in fact, replaced a few older FW800 500gb Lacie rugged drive that I had used prior.  The Lacie drives work in conjunction with a couple Samsung 256GB T5 USB-C SSD hard drives for when maximum speed is necessary.  I mostly use these for overflow from my laptops hard drive when editing video though.  Why do I have a few Samsung SSD drives and not Lacie drives?  Simple, at the time of purchase the Samsung drives were significantly cheaper.  Are the Lacie drives better?  Probably, but for over $100 more a drive when I bought them I wasn’t ready to invest that amount to find out.  That’s not everyplace my work lives though as you need to remember to keep multiple copies of things in order to keep your work safe.

2012- Nikon D3s, 250ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@116mm, 1/250th@F7.1. One Nikon SB900 on a paint pole with a snoot held up above camera left with a warming gel aimed on Shannon’s face. Two Nikon SB900s with warming gels in a ziploc bag placed inside the hollowed out tree set to FULL POWER, all lights triggered by Pocket Wizard from the Camera hot shoe, camera white balance set to 3200k)

When I get home from an assignment or when a project is completed all of my files reside on a large scale (recently upgraded) Synology 1817+ setup in SHR-2. (RAID-6).  For those unaware, RAID-6 or SHR-2 is dual disk redundancy, meaning that two hard drives can fail and any data can still be protected.  This is a very protective, yet very LARGE storage solution as in order to protect two drives you need to have enough space to duplicate your work across a number of drives multiple times.  It’s a large space and financial commitment to do this, yet I feel as though to be able to sleep at night knowing my data is safe is worth it.  I won’t use a large majority of the features that the Synology has, (Like transcoding streaming video, or as a web server) but since late 2014 Synology has guarded my data (with a 1813+ which you can read about here) with almost zero issues and absolutely zero loss of data.  Since my move from Drobo to Synology my storage solution has grown quite a bit, but so has the amount of data that I am storing.

2011-Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 24F1.4, 1/125th@F1.4. Nikon SB900 speedlight in a 16″ square PhotoRosa softbox to above camera right set to iTTL.

Most people in network storage will tell you though that a RAID6 is not the end all be all for backup solutions.  That is why regularly my data is backed up off-site as well meaning that if a meteorite hits our house, all the data can be recreated in relatively short order.  The RAID6 just prevents loss of access to data if the drive fails.  I’ve found over the years that the likelihood of multiple drives failing is pretty low with the right drives.  The right drives for me, in this case, being Western Digital RED Drives.  I’ve heard incredible things about the Seagate Iron Wolf drives, and I used to prefer Seagate to WD, but the Iron Wolf drives were not as widely available when I started backing up my data this way in 2014.  Currently, my 1817+ houses almost 60TB worth of space, but thanks to the SHR-2/RAID6 making sure my data is safe, only 35TB of it is usable.

2013- Nikon D4, 1250ISO, Nikon 200-400F4@240mm. 1/1000th@F4

Between the Lacie Thunderbolt Raid drives, the SSDs, the Synology 1817+ I usually feel like my data is protected.  In fact, very recently someone contacted me about their wedding photos from 5  years ago and I was able to provide them the images in question in a matter of minutes.  In theory, I could also do this from anyplace via any device through my entire archive thanks to the Synology. And again, if anything ever happened to the Synology, everything is backed up off site by year in an undisclosed super secret location.

2013- Nikon D4, 100ISO, Nikon 28-70F2.8@45mm, 1/160th@F2.8. Nikon SB900 Speedlight on a stand held by an assistant up above the couple, one SB900 on the second level aimed down at the railing between the couple and myself, a SB700 behind the couple aimed at the wall to separate them from the background. Lights triggered by Nikon SU-800 from on the camera hot shoe.


So there you have it.  I hope everyone learned something here.  There is no absolute correct way to backup your photography.  Backing up your work is super important though, and I hope knowing what I use to backup my work helps somehow.  Backup approaches are always changing, and technology is always changing too.  I’ve recently gotten done evaluating the Gnarbox, an on site quad core computer hard drive for editing on site. Lacie has a direct competitor to this that I would love to try also, but things are always changing; you never know what the next thing to make life easier will be.  So keep your eyes open.  On that note, Happy World Backup day! More Soon.