3-2-1 Strategy for backing up images

The 3-2-1 strategy is the golden rule for backing up and protecting photographs. It is based on the idea of making bullet-proof backup copies that are easy to recover if something happens to the primary copy. This method of safeguarding digital data has stood the test of time, even in a world of constantly changing technology. When followed consistently precious images will stay protected from hard drive failure, theft, fire, flood and whatever bad luck the world spins out.


Here's how it's done:

Make at least three copies of the images

That includes the local copy that will be used in editing software and at least two other backups.

Keep the backed-up images on two different types of storage

Two separate hard drives and a cloud storage subscription are my current methods of choice. Before cloud storage became a viable method I used DVDs and CDs as my secondary storage type.
If the primary copy is stored on an internal hard drive, make sure to have a different storage type, such as removable hard drive, or the cloud as the secondary.

Keep at least one backup of the images offsite

If there are multiple copies on two separate storage types but all are stored in the same building, a fire or flood could wipe out everything. Keep a third copy in an offsite location, like the cloud, the house of a friend or relative or even perhaps your favorite local pub, where you are friends with the owner.


The 3-2-1 backup rule is a best practice because it ensures that there will always be a copy of the images, no matter what happens. The backup copies prevent losing the only copy of the photographs and the secondary location ensures that there is no single point of failure and that the images are safe from things such as theft, disasters and other unforeseen events.

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