Everyone's least favorite topic! I know how boring it might seem to do a whole blog post on hard drives and network attached storage, but it only takes one bad experience to change your mind... and then you'll be nerding out like I did for a few months making sure your covered for all potentially disastrous scenarios that may ruin your life. So -- if you're a small business owner, you work on your own, or you have any kind of digital media you care about on your computer or an external hard drive and would be put in an awkward or aggravating situation if it were to all of a sudden disappear....then read on!!
I think we have all been there at least once...you purchased an external hard drive and used it religiously to back up all your data. Your photos, your documents, your past work etc.. and before you know it your whole life history is contained on that one drive. That one... solitary...drive...
Its almost inevitable that the drive would fail at some point. If there is a chance that might happen, then it will. (Just ask Mr. Murphy) Just give it enough time. Its the kind of set back that only happens to you once though, and I am here to show you what I did about it, and hopefully, prevent you from ever having to deal with it!
The name of the game is redundancy...backups for your backups for your backups.
After some research into the subject, I came across something called NAS, or "Network Attached Storage" . The idea here is that you plug this drive into your router and have storage available to any computer connected to the network.
The amazing thing is that there are some NAS systems out there that take redundancy to the next level, and make it their job to make sure that no amount of drive failures is going to cause any amount of data loss. Some NAS systems can have anywhere from 2-8 slots for separate hard drives...meaning your drives can have multiple backups in case one of the drives decides to bite the dust.
In addition to the multiple slots for backup, some NAS systems come with software that help you backup your data to cloud storage, meaning you are covered even in the event of a catastrophic failure (flood, fire, etc...)
I'm going to cut the chase here and give you a run down of what I got...I would suggest you determine the appropriate size and # of bays etc...but this should put you on the right track.
I ended up going with a Synology Disc Station (Synology Disk Station DS216j 2‑Bay). Links and product descriptions below:
In the end my typical workflow goes like this:
Since my camera allows for 2 memory cards, I always have at least 2 copies in case of a card failure. As soon as I have access to my computer I immediately copy the card contents to my computer's hard drive. At this point I keep anything in work in all three locations (the two SD cards and my computer). As I am finishing up, my routine is to transfer all data/files I want to keep permanently or long term to my NAS. My NAS then automatically backs the data up across multiple hard drives and as an additional precaution to Amazon Glacier. This means it is automatically backed up internally and on the cloud in case of any conceivable failure. I then erase the cards and put them back into use.
I hope this article helped shed some light on a slightly more sophisticated backup system that has the potential have saving you a lot of grief. Once set up, it is literally no more effort, yet the benefits in redundancy are huge. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
-Courtney Schramm (founder charlotte lately)