Although duplicates and archives cover most situations the typical user will encounter, some people have special backup needs that don't quite fit the mold. I'm thinking, in particular, of users with large numbers of digital photos and those who work extensively with the large files required for digital video or pro audio applications.
Many people, when asked what one item they would try to save if their house were burning down, would answer "my photo album"because furniture can be replaced, but memories cannot. The same thing is true of the memories stored on your hard disk in the form of pictures you've taken with your digital camera.
Most of us have at least a few digital photos on our computers. But some people take pictures constantly, and feel justifiably concerned about entrusting this irreplaceable data to their computers. Also, digital camera resolution is constantly on the risemeaning the next new camera you buy is going to require more space for the same number of images as your previous one. Your new mobile phone probably has a camera, too. As the number and size of your images increases, you may find that duplicates and archives alone don't entirely meet your backup needs.
For one thing, it can be extraordinarily difficult to find just the right photo from among thousands of similarly named files when it comes time to restore your data from a backup. Although Spotlight can use keywords and other metadata to help you find photos when they're on your hard disk, it won't help you when they're on a stack of DVDs. (For solutions to this problem, see Cataloging software, page 107.)
Photos are also among the files you're most likely to share with other people. If you've ever created an online photo album using iPhoto, iWeb, or .Mac HomePage, you know how easy (and addictive) photo sharing can be. Although the files you've shared on the Web do, in a sense, constitute a backup of the ones on your computer, you probably haven't shared all your files onlineand you most likely uploaded low-resolution copies of the images anyway. Wouldn't it be great if you could back up all your photos online, and still have the ability to share just the ones you want? (You can! I explain how in Photo-sharing services, page 108.)
Finally, let's not forget that photos are especially valuable. Although you wouldn't enjoy spending months rewriting The Great American Novel, it's at least possible. Recreating photos of a new baby or an important life event, on the other hand, simply can't be done.
Luckily, numerous tools, services, and strategies exist for the express purpose of making photo backups as painless and secure as possible. To learn more about them, read Photo Backup Strategy (page 107).
Video and Audio
Video files consume an enormous amount of disk space, and when you're working on editing a large video project or producing DVDs, the file sizes can become truly staggering. Add HD video content to the mix, and the file sizes balloon even further. Because of the sheer quantity of data you may generate, conventional duplicates and archives may not make the most sense. You're also likely to create numerous intermediate files between the raw footage and the final product, and deciding whether or how to back up that data can be challenging.
All this is equally true for those working with audio production, especially when your Mac functions as a multitrack recorder; it also holds for photographers working with gigantic, ultra-high-resolution images and several other categories of user.
So ask yourself this question:
Do you frequently generate more than a few gigabytes of new or modified files in a single day?
If you're working with large video, audio, or still image files, the answer is likely yes. All that data can strain conventional backup methods, not to mention your pocketbook. Learn more about how to get the job done without breaking the bank in Video and Audio Backup Strategy (page 110).