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Backups for the creative pro

Joe Kissell | Sept. 18, 2015
What to think about when you need to back up vast amounts of data.

What about the cloud?

Perhaps you’re thinking that cloud backups—using, say, Amazon Cloud Drive or CrashPlan, which offer unlimited storage for a fixed annual fee—could be a less-expensive alternative. Maybe, but it depends on how much data you need to back up per day and whether your broadband connection can handle it. People who have or can obtain gigabit-or-faster fiber broadband are generally in good shape; most cable and DSL customers may find their service too limited to back up terabytes per month.

You can test your upload speed using a service such as Speedtest. Then, to get a very rough estimate of how much data you can upload per day, take your upload speed in megabits per second (which is usually much lower than your download speed) and multiply it by 10.8. That will give you the approximate number of gigabytes you can upload in a day. (For example, if your upload speed is 15 Mbps, you can theoretically upload 15 x 10.8 = 162GB per day, although real-world results will almost invariably be worse.) If that’s considerably more than the amount of new data you’re creating each day—and if you aren’t constrained by a monthly data cap—then by all means, consider cloud backups. (But I still recommend at least one local backup, because it’s far faster to restore data locally than it is to download it from the cloud.)

Final thoughts

Backing up large quantities of data is always going to require more money, time, and inconvenience than you’d prefer. Restoring that data may be more challenging too, in that raw photos, videos, and audio files don’t always have descriptive names, yet you may have to rely on filenames when retrieving data from your backups. And backing up while on location may mean lugging around a large, clunky device. But all of this hassle pales in comparison to the agony of losing the only copy of an irreplaceable media file that a customer or client is depending on.


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