When shooting tethered to a computer, you should do everything possible to make sure that you have an instant backup of your session as it progresses – just in case your hard drive decides to die on you right in the middle of it all. “That never happens to me” you might think… Well, it just might, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Regardless of what camera or software you may be using or if you are shooting on location or in studio, the principle is the same – Shoot directly to your local hard drive and concurrently copy the content to an external drive. Whether that drive is a second drive connected to the computer or a network drive on your local network does not make much difference in the way the backup process is set up.
However shooting directly to a local network drive is not recommended. If the network performance is not 100% consistent, it could lead to potential image corruption or loss. Backing up images to a hard drive when shooting tethered ensures a redundant copy of your work is available immediately after your shoot wraps.
Setting Up Your Backup Drive
Although some capture software solutions may provide an additional backup option, for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the process of backing up to a hard drive using an independent and dedicated stand-alone solution. Using a dedicated software application for our backup ensures that there is no interference with the capture software of any kind and that we are actually using an application which is designed to do exactly this – back up our data.
Choose a fast hard drive or SSD drive with a USB 3.0 interface if available. With continuous backup it is essential that the data is delivered as fast as possible so it won´t slow down the rest of the system.
There are many backup software solutions to choose from.” Or if you want it chattier “When it comes to backup software solutions, you have a large selection to choose from. Some solutions offer “on the fly” backup of your files – which means your files will be backed up immediately as you shoot. Others offer a regularly scheduled or occasional backup – which are activated as you have a break in the shooting.
What you choose is not so important as long as it gets the job done. Applications such as Goodsync, which have the ability to sync in real-time are ideal for this job. There are plenty of options for both Mac and Windows to choose from but Goodsync is actually available for both platforms. It is very easy to set up and once activated you can concentrate on your photography with ease of mind.
If you are working with the recommended naming structure for your capture folder (date, client, job, etc.) you will need to set that up in the backup software prior to each shoot, so that it knows where to copy the data from. This is an easy task and only takes a few seconds. Another option is to always use the same capture folder and then copy over the captures to the workstation or proper location after the shoot finishes. This approach gives you a “one-click” solution for every session. We will use this model for the step-by-step process outlined here.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Setting Up an Automated Backup System
Before setting up the backup software, make sure that your hard drive is connected to your computer with the proper cable. We are showing how to do this using GoodSync but there are other backup options available as well.
1. Launch Goodsync and create a new job and name it “Tethered Session”. Make sure to select the Backup option as we are only interested in a one-way synchronization.
2. In the main window choose the source folder (Capture Folder) and destination folder on your external drive (we have named the folder “Session backup”)
3. In the General pane make sure “Propagate Deletions” is unchecked. This will ensure that if you accidentally delete files from the backup drive they won´t also be deleted in your capture folder.
4. In the Auto pane check “Analyze” and “Sync” to enable real time synchronization of your files. Leave all other options, except “Wait for Locks to clear” unchecked as shown below.
5. Click OK.
Launch your preferred tethering software and make sure your capture folder is identical to the source folder you selected in the backup software.
Now, when you start capturing your images to the computer, all files will be simultaneously copied over to your backup drive as they come in. Please note that this may have an impact on performance depending on the drive’s speed, the size of the files and how quickly you’re shooting. This is why some prefer to do incremental backup between series of captures.
Using Manual Backups Instead of Automated
If you prefer to do a manual incremental backup instead, simply leave out step 4 from above, then whenever you have a break in the shoot check the “Analyze” box followed by the “Sync” box as shown in the illustration for Step 5 and then click “OK”. This will initiate a backup of your files between your capture folder and your backup folder. You can repeat this action as often as you like. The Analyze function in the software makes sure only new files are added to the backup folder.
Although we are specifically describing Goodsync in this article, the workflow outlined here would generally apply to all other backup solutions supporting real time sync as well.
Storing and archiving your files are a critical part of a complete tethering workflow and there are many great resources for ensuring your files and business assets are optimally managed and secure.
To learn more about how to improve your tethered shooting workflow, download the Ultimate Tethering Guide by Tether Tools and the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).
Backup, Backup + Hard Drives, Ultimate Tether