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The Importance of Making Back Ups

September 9, 2016

I don’t usually do personal posts, but this is an important message that cannot be written about enough. Photos included in this post are from Freshkills Park in Staten Island.

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It’s been a rough summer over here, which has fed into the overarching theme of it being a rough year. When I did the math recently I realized it’s been almost two years of less-than-great times.

This summer, though, has been especially challenging to my business. I’ve had to deal with many things behind the scenes while still maintaining my quality customer service to clients, shooting, and efficiently editing and delivering photos.

These are things that most people don’t know about, because why should they? My issues behind the scenes shouldn’t affect clients at all, and thankfully, because of steps I’ve always taken, didn’t. Which is why I’m writing this post, to serve as a reminder to myself and to everyone out there that relying on technology in any capacity is never a good idea – have things backed up in multiple places. On external hard drives, in the cloud, on USBs – whatever you gotta do.

In June, I called my hosting company, Bluehost, because my site wasn’t loading very well. I noticed it was taking a long time for photos to load, and I noticed my bounce rate stats weren’t very good (basically, people would wait a few seconds for things to load, then “x” out of my site and move on). Bluehost’s solution was to upgrade me to a newer, faster server (for $$$, of course!).

In the process of upgrading me, Bluehost accidentally deleted my website. This turned out to be an absolutely horrible experience, beyond just not having a website for days. I’m saddened to say that their customer service to me was awful, and after hours of phone calls and many emails, I was still left without a resolution beyond them offering me a month of free hosting (which amounted to $13).

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I’m saying all this because though it was a disaster (many of my pages were de-indexed from Google, so my hits plummeted and no new business was coming in), I had a backup of my website on an external hard drive. After deleting my website, Bluehost gave me no timeframe for its restoration. So I spent hours uploading all the files – on a site like this, it’s something like 300K files! – and getting the site back up myself.

I got past this, though, as I’ve gotten past all business-related challenges one way or the other.

Then, in August, my MacBook Pro died.

I was up in Maine at the time, a trip that I had been looking forward to for a long time. I usually go every year with my best friend and her family, but wasn’t able to last year due to attending a funeral and being thrown headfirst into having to buy a house.

Our trip was already shortened because of a last minute awesome opportunity my best friend got to travel to Israel for a business trip. With camera gear and her two pet rabbits in tow, we drove up to Maine on a Monday. Over the course of the next two days, one of her rabbits got increasingly sicker (they are older rabbits, so it wasn’t out of the blue), and by Wednesday she was putting him down. Then on Thursday, my laptop died.

On Friday, we drove two hours to the closest Apple Store – and I won’t bore you with the details from here on out, but I ultimately found out the hard drive (one of those newer SSD drives) was toast and unrecoverable. Or, it may possibly be recovered, but it’ll cost thousands of dollars.

By this point, it was clear for both of us it was time to take a knee with this trip and try again next year.

The day before I left for New England, I photographed an engagement shoot and a family shoot. At any given moment during the year, I have a queue of 5-10 shoots that I’m editing. So you would think this laptop thing would be a disaster.

Thankfully, it wasn’t.

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I have the RAW files on an external hard drive, as well as in a temporary cloud storage. Once finished photos are delivered I delete the cloud storage RAWs (as the JPG files are on the hard drive AND stored in a private gallery online) and maintain the RAWs on an external hard drive.

I sadly lost a lot of personal “stuff” but client files were safe. I’d say I had around 80% of what was on the laptop backed up at the time it failed. I didn’t lose any client photos.

This whole summer (and in a larger sense, this whole year) has left me exhausted. I’ve been discouraged by many things – feeling like I’m taking two steps forward and three steps back – and now I’m re-grouping. I’m gearing up for a very busy few months and a possible new opportunity ahead.

You never know what life is going to throw at you. If I hadn’t had backups of my website and a double backup of my not-yet-delivered client photo sessions, this most certainly would have been the end of my business. I’m so thankful that my personal business issues didn’t affect anyone else but me. It’s been a huge headache, and many tears, but not the end of the world.

If you don’t have backups of your files, make one! There are external hard drives you can leave hooked up to your computer that make automatic backups for you. Or, you can manually back up every month. If your business relies on maintaining files on a computer, it is especially important to have at least one backup. If your computer is stolen, or if it dies, you may never get what’s on it back again. Hard drives are cheap in comparison to the peace of mind they give.

And just know when things are at their darkest – the light is coming. I promise.

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  1. […] summer, I wrote a blog post that is, upon reflection, the precursor to this […]

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