My Photo Backup Strategy

This is what I do to try to ensure I don’t lose any pictures. 

The first obvious step is I take a picture.  I take all of my pictures with my iPhone.  My wife takes her pictures with a combination of her iPhone and her Canon camera.  

Next, I upload all the pictures to the computer.  I use a cable to connect the phones to the computer and import the photos to iPhoto on our family desktop iMac.  I take the SD card out of the Canon camera and import those photos into iPhoto as well. As iPhoto imports those photos, they are all placed into a central location on the hard drive.

After the photos are imported into iPhoto, several things happen in the background.  The first is that Google Photos looks at that central location on the hard drive and it starts uploading them to their cloud service.   Next, once an hour, the Mac’s built-in backup utility takes all of the new files and adds them to the external hard drive sitting under the monitor.  Finally, every few hours BackBlaze takes everything from the desktop and backs it up to one of their datacenters in the PST. With BackBlaze, I pay every 2 years so it is a nice chunk of change but it works out to be only a few dollars per month.  Having an offsite, full backup is priceless to a neurotic nerd like me. 

When I take pictures on the iPhones, the photos are automatically geo-tagged but any photos from the Canon camera need to be manually geo-tagged.  I have tens of thousands of photos in iPhoto and only a few are not geo-tagged, I am very diligent about doing that and making sure it is as accurate as possible.  I am not as diligent about the “facial-tagging” in iPhoto.  iPhoto can be really hit-or-miss on picking out a face and then knowing which person it is.  I know that small sample size isn’t an issue, it has thousands of pictures of the people in my immediate family.  Google Photos is almost perfect at picking out faces and knowing who it is so I’ve stopped worrying about managing it in iPhoto. 

I am very diligent about getting all of the photos off my phone within a day or two of taking the photo.  That’s not a big deal since I hardly take any photos.  My wife is constantly taking photos and I normally go weeks or months before I can connect her phone to the computer.  So what I do is every few days I will open the Google Photos app on her phone and have it sync to the cloud so they are not only on just her phone.  I’ve noticed that Google Photos has a great deduplication algorithm so if it sees that a photo was already uploaded from the phone and it tries to upload it again from the computer, it will only keep one copy. 

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