If your livelihood is intellectual property (such as photographs or video or writing), or even if it’s just your favorite photos which have value to you alone, wouldn’t it be nice to know they'll be there tomorrow, even if the computer burns into a pile of goo along with the house, or goes scuba diving during the next hurricane? Or the next nasty virus wipes the hard drives? Or the hard drive just fails inexplicably?
Always make sure you have at least two current backups. If they’re all in the same building, they’re at risk. If they’re connected to the computer, they’re at risk. How to handle this may be the subject of a future diglloyd article, but here are some quick pointers:
1. Consider using DVDs—they’re annoyingly small and slow to create, but cheap. Burn two copies of everything, and store at least one set at a second location. Be sure you also burn subsequent modifications to the originals, unless you’d like to repeat that work. Every 3-4 years, reassess the current state of the art, and make copies using the latest technology (technology obsolescence and/or media risk).
2. Hard drives are cheap. Laziness sets in for everyone, sooner or later. By keeping a 2nd hard drive connected, you have no excuse for not having an always-current backup. This will only protect you from failure of the main hard drive; it won’t protect you from natural disasters or unnatural ones, such as viruses fond of trashing your computer.
3. Use a disciplined approach: Don't skip a backup because it’s inconvenient. Reread #2 above.
4. Apply the same discipline when shooting in the field. If you download your flash card to an Epson P-4000 or the like, then erase it, you had better have two Epson P-4000s, one as the master, and one as the backup. Or a laptop and a P-4000—you get the idea. If you only have one copy, it’s not backed up. Alternately, don’t erase your flash cards (they remain the master copy), and consider a single P-4000 (or something similar) the backup.
Was diglloyd unfair to Windows XP in yesterday's article on Nikon Capture? How does this relate to digital photography?
“Considering the grossly inferior user interface, and the pervasive and severe virus and security problems of a Windows PC, MacOS is the only rational choice at this point in time.”
Diglloyd was listening to National Public Radio news yesterday, hearing that yet another security hole has been found in Microsoft Windows, which can apparently infect your machine just by visiting a website or reading an email containing an image file! The newscaster’s advice was to “avoid unfamiliar websites”. So much for the value of web search engines—just restrict your use of the web to a handful of websites! If all this still leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy, consider treating yourself to a nice Windows “rootkit” CD from Sony.
How does this relate to digital photography?
Digital photography requires a reliable computer that yields more benefits than drawbacks. It is hard enough just learning all the software and techniques that are prerequisites for productive work. Add to that the insult of paying for protection from malicious hackers on a regular basis, the necessity of staying abreast of the latest threats...well that’s not diglloyd’s idea of a good use of one’s time or money. It’s as if you just bought a new car, and if you don’t regularly add some Symantec No-Blo or McAfee No-Plode to the gas tank (new formulations required every week), the car will explode, not start, or drive off on its own to assist in a bank heist (no affront to Symantec or McAfee intended—they're simply filling the gaping holes created by Microsoft).
Is MacOS immune to all of this? No, of course not. But you just don’t read about any actual virus infestations occurring on MacOS (which, like Linux, is Unix, one of the most proven, secure, and reliable operating systems available). At any rate, diglloyd has never used anti-virus software on his Mac, and that goes back to 1983, yet diglloyd had only one virus, back in 1989 or so, on MacOS 9 (which is not MacOS X, and not Unix).
No computer user is immune to losing valuable data. The loss may come from a virus, a machine failure, a natural disaster, or your 7-year-old. Make a backup of anything that you wouldn’t want to see gone forever—or you might as well throw it in the trash right now.