When Harry and Wilma returned from their two week vacation, they invited me over for dinner. They had been back a few days and were very excited about the pictures they had taken on their new spiffy digital camera. Happily, the picked up the camera and scrolled through their snapshots, like in the old slide show days, each with a story that had a great deal of meaning to them, and mostly elicited yawns from me.
And so, I asked if they had made any prints yet. No, not yet. Of course, I said, you've copied the files to the PC.
No, not yet.
Horrified, I asked why they hadn't copied the files over yet and they told me, why should they. After all, they were on the card inside the camera, and that card was "just like film, wasn't it?"
No - no - it's not like film, I said. It's a computer thing. It could go up in smoke at any moment.
Perhaps overdoing the dangers, I tried to explain that it wasn't like the old days when you could leave film in the camera for six months before bringing it in to the lab. Something could happen. It was just these little electronic bits and bytes and...
And so, I took out the small SD card (too small for my taste) and stuck it into the printer and copied the files over.
Then today I had an e-mail about backups for digital files, so I thought I'd share what I've come up with.
First off - I shoot in JPG mode at the highest resolution. You can debate the wisdom of this, as compared to RAW, but that's for another post.
JPG - as you all know - is a lossy format. That means that when you do some editing and then save the jpg you are going to lose some quality. How much - I have no clue. Just to be clear, if you copy the jpg at the file level, i.e. from one drive to another (not through a program) - then you are just making a byte for byte transfer and you don't lose anything.
I transfer the JPGs from the camera to the Hard Drive. I view them, either in Photoshop or Portfolio and delete the files that I know for sure I will never want.
Then, before I do anything else, I use the Windows 2K Backup Program to backup all the jpgs to an external hard drive. So, at this point, the files are actually in three places (primary HD, external HD, and the Flash Card).
I find some likely JPG from the HD and save it as a TIFF file without any compression. I can now work on it to my hearts content.
Somewhere along the line I can now erase the CF card.
Maybe once a week, I make a collection of important files through a collection in Portfolio. Important means that I've done a fair amount of work on them - or they are important JPG originals, and make two separate CDs. One with the jpg originals, and one with the altered Tiff files. The theory here is that even if everything else fails, i.e the external HD backup goes bad, and one of the CD's is unreadable, I should still be able to get a good copy of the file.