Creating the Habit of Backups

Creating a new habit isnt easy. We all know that. And Im not talking about major changes (like exercising more, eating better, or working less) but simple things like backing up our projects, especially when working on locations. The “Ill do it later” or “this is not a good timewill always be there so by incorporating simple and efficient practices into our standard workflows can make things much easier and eventually save a project or even a client.

ShotPutPro, currently on its fifth version is an application known to many in the film industry. What I find interesting is that even some of those who know about the app and totally get its importance skip the critical backup step.

Back up on location

“Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” – Mark Twain

When it comes to backing up our work, procrastination is a double edged sword. Not only do we create more work for ourselves when we procrastinate, but we can also hurt our business. As your photo and video business grows, so will your need for organization. Backing up your work as soon as possible is a great way to stay organized and doing so on location is something I highly recommend. Here’s how to do it:

First, we label each and every card, not only with a label (which could fall off) but also by giving each card a unique disk name. Since we are almost always using two cameras, we name a 64GB card as A1 and a second card with the same exact capacity (64GB) as B1. The same goes for A2 and B2, and so on. When we are replacing a card during a shoot, say C1, we also replace C2, even if theres space left. This might seem wasteful but it makes the data wrangling much smoother. After 10 hours, two or three cameras, and several cards later, it is very easy to forget what has been dumped and what hasnt.

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As you can see the cards have a unique disk name that shows on the computers desktop/finder as well as in ShotPutPro.

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Under Preferences, there are several options but the most important ones for us are:

Manual vs Automatic. I prefer Manual, which means I have the option to choose when to start the data transfer. If Automatic is selected, as soon as the application detects a Hard Drive or Memory Card it will start the process.

Under Display Offload Progress I prefer to see how much time it will take to complete. That way I know if I can grab something to eat, do something else, or simply sit next to the computer and wait.

Under File Verification Preferences MD5 Checksum is the most current standard.

I like to use the following format for dates: year/month/day/time in the 24 hour format (e.g. 20150520_211037).

Under Post-Offload Preferences we have everything disabled except Play Sound.” Ive been doing this for years and I still dont feel comfortable formatting the card right away. You might feel differently, so you can set this up to your liking.

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Back to the main window: Under “Offload Preset” click the little pencil to edit the preset.

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This is how our Main Preset looks.

We change the Suffixbased on each project.

The Output Destination also changes from project to project, simply click the + sign to select an external hard drive / folder /subfolder for your backup.

ShotPutPro can back up to (apparently) endless destinations so you can select two or three hard drives to have multiple copies with a single click.

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Now, this is the magical moment. Simply drag and drop your Hard Drive or Memory Cards into the Drop Files Herecircle. Then click the Begin” button on the top right of the menu.

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Done and done. ShotPutPro created a folder per memory card with the date and exact time of the backup.

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A weakness in this app is that if we try to backup the same card again, even to the same destination, it will let us. Id prefer if it had a similar feature as Adobe Lightroom to prevent importing suspected duplicates,but it doesnt, so once you backup a card I strongly suggest you put it away, grab a fresh one, and keep shooting.


Eduardo Angel is an independent Technology Consultant, Educator, and Emmy Award winning Visual Storyteller based in Brooklyn, NY. He currently teaches at The School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography, and mentors the photography program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

He is a co-founder of the idea production company The Digital Distillery, author of popular filmmaking courses on Lynda.com, and regularly shares his thoughts on technology, photography, and cinema on his website eduardoangel.com.

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