Back Up. And Running: How to Back Up Your Digital Goods on the Road

Photo + Video + Film
by Matador Creators Mar 25, 2009


Ever wonder how the pros back up their photography? Professional travel and editorial photographer Terence Carter shares his backup plans with us.

Photo by Terence Carter

I’ve had a few comments and a number of emails from my fellow Mac-wielding travellers about backing up and not freaking out. It’s really quite simple and not techy to make sure that you don’t lose those valuable photos, emails and music.

So here is a brief rundown of how I plan for disaster.

Lacie FireWire Drive

My MacBook Pro is backed up automatically every night to a Lacie FireWire drive. Of the current range, this model sounds about right. I back up using software called SuperDuper!, which is excellent.

Why do I use FireWire? Because you can plug the backup into another computer and run the backup as if you were on your own machine. In other words, if the hard drive fails in your Mac, you can actually start up and run your Mac from your backup.

Brilliant. Unless you have a new MacBook or a MacBook Air which don’t have FireWire anymore.

Shame Apple, shame.

But wait, there is another solution.

Western Digital Passport Drive

The red hard drive you can see there is a Western Digital one. I do prefer Lacie, but they’re not always so easy to find. This drive also backs up my Mac using Apple’s own Time Machine software that comes with the latest operating system and with all new Macs.

It backs up every hour, but only updates what has been changed on your Mac. What is great about this is that if you accidently delete a file or folder, you can ‘turn back time’ (yes, you now have that horrible Cher song in your head, no need to thank me!) and retrieve the files.

Pretty darn simple. And it’s the kind of thing that makes Apple so much better for people who just want to get things done rather than play around with computers.

The darn software even asks you if you want to use the drive you’ve just plugged in as a Time Machine backup – couldn’t be simpler and it leaves you with no excuses for not having a backup strategy.

The other two drives on the right are for the current photography projects that I’m working on. I’ll buy two drives, one as a backup, and I get SuperDuper! to back those up every night as well.

Blank DVDs

I also burn all my photos to DVD on the road as I import them to the working drive.

This generally means me being up at ungodly hours labelling DVDs and watching far too much late-night television and occasionally lapsing into some self-hate by raiding the mini-bar.

But we all have our challenges in life.

After the photos are backed up on DVD, I then import them into Apple’s Aperture where I do all my photo sorting and much of my photo editing.

Think of it as iPhoto on steroids.

So, if you’re not currently backing up your Mac, do yourself a favour and spend $100 on a backup drive.

You can thank me later.

And no, none of the above companies pay me a dime to talk about their products.


About Terence Carter

Australian-born and Dubai-based, Terence Carter is a travel and editorial photographer and travel writer.

He’s authored more than 40 guidebooks for the world’s best travel publishers, many of which he’s also photographed.

Assignments in the last twelve months have seen him making still pictures everywhere from the south of Italy to the Red Centre of Australia.

He also maintains a blog – Wide angles, wine and wanderlust.

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