The Backup Tool Every Photographer Needs

Life happens... and that's NOT just a saying. It's the lesson I'm learning more and more every day. In fact, Will and I have a running joke that whenever we repair something at the house, an equally important thing breaks. Just this week we ended up with a broken down truck AND a crashed laptop! I previously would have thrown up my hands and cursed our bad luck, but now I'm shrugging it off. When you drive a truck with close to 200k miles and use a 4 year old laptop EVERY DAY, they are going to need a little TLC once in a while! Even if your car or laptop are brand new, things happen and best thing to do is accept this and prepare solid back up plans. It's the only way folks! :)  

That brings me to the tool that I think EVERYONE needs for their home or small business, Crash Plan. While this didn't restart our truck (AAA handled that... kind of), it did save hundreds, possibly thousands, of files that would have been lost when our computer crashed this week. Crash Plan is saving my butt today which is why I thought it was too fitting to share this post!

What is Crash Plan?

Simply put, Crash Plan is a cloud storage tool, but if you dive deeper, it is SO much more than that! 

Best Features

Automatic back ups. Anytime I'm connected to the internet, Crash Plan is running in the background. I don't have to remember to start it up or run back ups once a week. When I'm working (or let's be honest, on Pinterest), Crash Plan is working too. 

Settings so that it doesn't slow me down. I was worried that the continuous back ups would slow my computer down, but there are several customizable settings to keep this in check. We set ours to only use 20% of the CPU when we are active on the computer and I seriously don't even notice it!

Easy access to backed up files. We now have access to ALL of our files from any of our devices. Maybe I'm just old, but I'm amazed that my laptop has totally given up but I can still access every working file I had on my desktop! AND I didn't have to decompress or decode some large file. It was almost as easy as accessing my "Finder" window! ...well with the extra download time since this is all on the inter-webs! The below image is from my iPad which has been where I've been doing my work for the last two days!

Unlimited storage. I save way too many RAW files, so a "pay by the amount" would not work well for us!  

"Smart Back up." Crash plan backs up the most recent files first and then works backwards to check on the rest. This came in handy this week because I believe it is the reason I didn't loose any images from our family trip this past weekend! Hurrah! 

Note: In the image below, Crash Plan only records "Last backed up date" if the folder was checked fully in the back up. Since the recent items are saved first, it rarely records a full check every time even though all the files are backed up and secure! 

Things to Consider

  • Crash plan is NOT the end-all be-all for a digital storage solution. I recommend creating a workflow that ensures at least two places for remote storage (remote storage being storage outside of your laptop).  We use Crash Plan and external hard drives (and PASS galleries for photos only).
  • It's not free BUT it is worth it. We pay for the family plan and haven't regretted a dime.
  • If your laptop complete craps out (like ours did) and you need to get your entire set up restarted (like we will) the download time from Crash Plan to your device could be a very long time (like months) depending on your internet speeds and the amount you have backed up. There is an extra add on option through Crash Plan that we will be using to get a hard drive delivered to our door that will make the process MUCH faster. The down side? It costs an additional $165. Arg! 
  • In relation to the above, the first time Crash Plan runs, it will take a long time to get to the back up of 100%. It took my laptop and 2 external hard-drives over 2 months, but then again I had almost 3 terabytes! Luckily there is an option for people with greater than 300 GB called "Seeded back-ups" to greatly speed up the initial process.