I have a friend, let's call him Xavior, who recently lost his laptop bag in a car break-in. In the bag was his laptop, with all of his photo's of his young family. All of the photos. They're all digital, and all stored on the laptop. And there were no other computers with these photos.
Yes there was a backup, in case the laptop failed. This was stored on an external USB Hard Drive, that unfortunately was in the same laptop bag.
You can imagine how crushed Xavior is. Tragic. As he put it, “This is not about replacing the stolen laptop. I hope the thief is happy with all of our only memories of our children.”
Which leads me to ask (philosophically), “It's 2016, why isn't there a back-up in the cloud?”
To which the most common answer is: “The 'free' accounts aren't big enough for all my data, and I can't afford a premium account.”
Of course there are other answers, e.g. “I don't trust my personal photos on a Public Cloud Provider that could be hacked.”
So here's a couple of questions:
1. How much would you pay to retrieve your data?
Let's say you couldn't access your photos because of a computer failure, or a corrupted SD card. How much would you be willing to pay to retrieve the information? Chances are, if these were your only memories, this would be a very high figure.
More than you would pay for backup sw.
In fact, quite apart from synchronised drive providers (Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive) that have a freemium account model, you can get CrashPlan from Code42. For Free. This will automatically back up all the files on your PC or Mac (or Linux box) daily. If you want you can attach a HDD to your computer, do a full backup. Then plug this HDD in a friends computer on the other side of the Internet, and your files will autormatically backup to this drive. Daily. For Free.
If you want to add continuous backup, plus unlimited cloud storage, plus mobile phone access, this will cost you a whopping $5 per month.
So I ask again, how much are the thousands of photos worth? $60? I'd say so.
2. What is More Secure?
What is more secure? Duplicate copies in a public cloud provider that could potentially be hacked? Or, all of your valuable information on a physical machine?
With regard to hacking: It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to hack you. Period. Unless you're a celebrity that has saved naked photos. Are you? Have you?
I thought not.
But even then, your HDD crashing, or your laptop failing, or your car being broken into? Those are far more likely events.
Actually if I was to glean valuable information from you (which doesn't include your photos) I would hack your home computer a long time before hacking a Public Cloud Provider.
Seriously, the cloud is more secure than your PC at home.
3. Why Do We Think Everything Should Be Free?
This is my big question for today. For some reason there seems to be a “everything should be free” culture.
- I'm willing to create a personal website of all my photos and videos and thoughts and events, but I'm not willing to pay for this website.
- I'm willing to download apps or songs or movies as long as they're free.
- I think it's ok to synch my files on a cloud service for free as long as I don't have to pay anything.
You Always Pay
As Xavior found out, you always pay for security. Either before disaster strikes, or afterwards. Afterwards is always more expensive.
This is true for other 'free' services. We actually pay far more for them than a financial sum. Our attention (time) is far more valuable than the $10 per month it would cost to host your own website. Your email address is far more valuable to a marketer over time, than the $100 for a 'free' report.
Put in place a process to automatically backup your important files. Pay for a Dropbox subscription (that boosts you from 2GB to 2TB), so everything is just synchronised, securely.
Or a MS OneDrive, or a Google Drive, or S3 on Amazon Web Services
Or Crashplan. Which, again, you can implement for a daily, remote, automatic backup for free!!
And the next time you sign up for a 'free' account, take a moment to figure out just what you're actually paying.
I suspect for Xavior all is probably not entirely lost. There'll be photos posted to Facebook, and Twitter. No doubt some were emailed to family and friends. Then there's photos others took that will be both online, and offline on home computers. Perhaps even some left on the Camera.
I rather suspect there won't be anywhere near as many photos, but it probably won't matter. The curated collection will be just as valuable. Consider this an unplanned editing event. Based on the premise that all the best shots where shared already.