Let’s talk about saving your photos; syncing vs backups. When I ask my friends, family, and clients if they sync and/or back up their photos, the most common response is, “I don’t know.” This is not the answer I want to hear! You should not be okay with this, either. Your family memories are precious and irreplaceable. Their safety and long-term security over time is paramount. This is important stuff, and if you don’t know the status of your collection, no one does.

Yes, I can help you get your photos organized and backed up. But it’s important for you to take an active role in managing and preserving your collection. It’s important to be familiar with what’s necessary for maintenance even if you hire someone like me to do it for you.

Syncing and backing up are two critical functions for the security of your photo/video collection. The outcomes of these functions are often confused. They have similarities, but they also have some very important differences.

Syncing services involve the cloud, and help you view and edit your media across all your devices. They provide an extra layer of safety in the case of device loss or failure – in a sense, a backup of your high res files.

But I consider them to be a second or third tier backup, not a top tier. When your devices sync, deleting one image from any of your devices will remove it from all your devices. This happens whether it’s accidental or not. So in this case, it is not a true backup. Examples of popular syncing services (that serve as second/third tier backups) are Dropbox, and iCloud (we use both).

A true backup is a one-way copy that can’t be easily deleted. It can be a manual action (i.e click and drag your files to an external hard drive – EHD – after making any significant changes) or it can be automatic, using an auto-backup feature that comes with backup software. Carbonite, SuperDuper, BackBlaze are examples of third-party backup service software.

Time Machine is another that comes auto-installed on Macs. They are often used to back up your entire computer’s hard drive (which will be mirrored on the EHD you are saving the backup to), and this will include your photo library.

The use of auto-backup is best determined by your workflow. You can choose every night at midnight, once a week, etc. And make sure your computer is on and the EHD is mounted at the scheduled time!

We recommend the 3-2-1 method of backing up. It’s essential to have both cloud and EHD backups. This is especially true if you have spent a significant amount of time and/or money getting your photo collection organized. Think of it as a type of insurance to protect your visual assets and family memories. And with a better understanding of saving your photos; syncing vs backups, you will be glad you did.