Mason Higa
Mason Higa

Mason currently is at the Canon Hollywood Professional Technology and Support Center as a Marketing Associate Specialist, providing on-site support management for the Professional Development Seminars and Workshops in California.

Backing up photo files

April 21, 2015

Tick… tick… tick… Unplug, plug it back in. Come on, green light! Red light now…

Tick… tick… tick… Unplug, plug it back in. Come on, green light! Red light now… again.

Have you ever had a nightmare and realized days later it would become a horrible reality? This was my reality and it was a game of roulette I was fighting between my ignorance and the electronic bytes I called my life. Music, photos and school papers were all gone. Well, they weren’t actually gone; I just couldn’t turn myself into an electronic handyman and slip into my external drive to start spinning the hard drive like an emphatic player on Wheel of Fortune. It was my last turn and I landed on “Bankrupt.”

Before the era of cloud computing and syncing files with ease, I used to have one computer and one external hard drive. The problem was that my external hard drive wasn’t my backup; all my files were housed on that drive. So when the hard drive died, well that was my Y2K and the following day was Day 0.

Fast forward to present day and I’ve become a back up enthusiast. This is my digital life for the past 3 years:

Photo by Mason Higa

My back up method is the following:

Every year, I buy two hard drives from different manufacturers with identical sized hard drive space. For example, this year I bought a 1 TB external hard drive from Western Digital and a secondary 1 TB hard drive from Toshiba. The reason for purchasing different manufacturers is because if I purchase two hard drives from the same manufacturer and one fails, there is a significant chance that the second hard drive would fail shortly there after. By buying separate manufacturers, the odds of having both hard drives failing at the same time are minimized.

Everything that lives on one hard drive, I copy over to the secondary hard drive. As seen in February’s blog post about organizing digital photos, I discuss how to easily organize digital photos into a coherent systematic approach. Backing up is the next step after that blog post. I copy over my “New Project Folder” (explained in the blog post) to the secondary hard drive so that I have an exact copy of my original files. I do this every time I create a new project. Once I’ve completed the work and exported JPEGs, I copy over all the additional file folders, except the original sources (01 RAW PHOTOS), to the secondary hard drive. So now both hard drives are identical. But that’s not all – this is where I become an enthusiast.

At the end of the month when I pay my bills and other tedious activities, I copy over every thing from the first hard drive over to a third larger hard drive. This third larger hard drive will have everything that I work on in the original hard drive, any exported JPEGs, additional files that were created, etc. Depending on file sizes and transfer rates, this might take a while. I’ll back it up over night and let it go till morning.

I’ve got eight hard drives in the above photo. Two hard drives for 2012, two hard drives for 2013 and two hard drives for 2014. The last two of the eight are my larger hard drives that back up everything. When you consider everything that I have in the photo, there should be triplets of all my files in the hard drives.

Next month I’ll discuss the next step in my organizing and backing up my files. Oh yes… there is a Step 3!

Any questions? Feel free to email me ( or follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

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