Archivally Backing Up … Your Backups! Protecting Your Digital Portfolios | Genealogy Records | Collections Data

Archivally Backing Up … Your Backups!
Protecting Your Digital Portfolios  /  Genealogy Records  /  Collections Data

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Disasters—large & small—happen ALL THE TIME! In this short blog I want to urge you to be prepared by “backing up…your digital backups!”
(Please click on each image for more information.)


The word that NO ONE wants to hear.

Yet today, without wishing to discount any local or global calamities, I want to focus on a particular type of disaster that might affect YOU:

The potentially PERMANENT LOSS of your DIGITAL FILES containing your:

          Photographic Portfolios

          Art Portfolios

          Family Photographs

          Genealogy Archives

           Collections Records & Images

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It’s fundamentally important to have REDUNDANT copies of your digital files (we suggest AT LEAST THREE COPIES!),
and to then organize & store them archivally! Read on!

While the list of potential disasters that might happen to the “physical stuff” in an archive is quite long (fires / floods / leaky pipes / even humidity fluctuations or using non-archival materials!), here we’re going to discuss preserving your art / photography / genealogy / & collection records that exist as DIGITAL FILES by saving these files to:

           the “cloud,” if that’s something you prefer & is easy for you

           thumb drives / camera memory cards / and other “stand-alone” hard drives

           DVD-Rs and other disk formats

…and then ARCHIVALLY STORING multiple(!) & redundant(!!!) physical backups, as that is EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT!

“Archival Preservation / Storage / Presentation” is Simply NOT Enough!

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Left to Right:  Acid-free Document Storage Kit  /  Onyx Portfolio Box  /  Print & Slide Page  /  Short Top Box.
(Please click on each image for more information.)

While Archival Methods has EVERYTHING from museum-quality portfolios to durable binders / from safe enclosures to acid-free mat boards / and from elegant presentation cases to versatile acid-free file folders

…all of these products are for “PHYSICAL STUFF” – tangible objects, prints, artwork, collectibles & artifacts that exist in time & space, and can be held in one’s hands (see pix above).

backing upIntangible (yet IRREPLACEABLE!) digital photographs on my computer’s hard drive. These need to be backed up,
and these backups then need to be redundantly backed up, because if they’re lost, they’re gone for good! Yikes!
(Please click on the image for more information.)

This is not the case with digital files (see pix above)!

backing upYeah, these digital media storage devices containing your backups ALSO need safe archival care.
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You can, of course, hold your USB thumb drives / camera memory cards / stand-alone backup hard drives / CDs & DVDs you’ve copied your files onto (see pix above), yet ALL of your redundant digital image & document storage devices ALSO need “archival care!”

More on that in a short moment, but first…the “cloud.”

Backing Up Your Backups: The Cloud

backing upIn the News: viruses, ransomware & threats, oh my!*
(*apologies to The Wizard of Oz)

There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about computer viruses, ransomware, and other “outside threats” to your computer and your digital files.

There has also been a lot of information on countering these threats by “backing up” your digital files, which usually means copying the files that reside on your computer / tablet / & smartphone.

Many people do this by storing their backups in the “cloud,” and there are any number of ways to do this by looking around online.

backing upYeah…um…not THIS cloud, which is actually a volcanic eruption from a 19th century photographic postcard.
(Please click on the image to see our fully-illustrated blog on Postcards: Family History & Archival Care.)

While there is nothing wrong with backing up to the cloud, today I want to encourage you to consider blending “virtual” storage (i.e. in the cloud) and “physical” storage (i.e. a physical thumb drives / separate stand-alone hard drives / CD & DVD-R copies) by making “redundant” copies, and then storing these copies safely & archivally.

Backing Up Your Backups: Making Redundant “Physical” Copies

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Above are photos of my computer and my smartphone, and their hard drives and memory cards are FULL of personal (& IRREPLACEABLE!) snapshots of my kids growing up / important documents / my personal art & photography portfolios / even my tax records.

If my computer or phone failed in some permanent way all this material might be lost, so…

backing up(Please click on the image to see a number of different types of
stand-alone hard drives from our friends at B&H Photo & Video.)

…here are 4 of the 5 separate “stand-alone” hard drives onto which I have backed up my ENTIRE computer. Since computer memory is relatively “cheap” these days—a stand-alone hard drive with a terabyte of memory is well under $100—it makes sense to have more than one (yeah, only crazy people like me have 5, but who’s counting?).

Speaking of which, so just WHERE IS the 5th hard drive, as there are only 4 in the picture?

Well, it’s not here, as it is safely stored “off site” at a friend’s house in case some disaster strikes my home and destroys my computer and all of the backups I keep there.

backing upYup, backing up should occur on a regular basis, if not once a day! See below for more info.

And in case you’re wondering, in terms of “regularly scheduled backups” I back up one drive EVERY NIGHT and the other 4 (including the “off site” drive, which I retrieve) AT LEAST once a week.

It’s also important to note that these backup drives ARE NOT plugged into a USB port on my computer UNTIL IT’S TIME to actually do the backup, and as soon as it’s finished I then “unmount” the drive (DON’T just pull the USB cable out without “unmounting” the drive, as you could mess it up).

The reason to not leave your backup drive plugged in all the time is that if your computer gets infected with a virus or ransomware the connected drive would become infected too, which sort of defeats the purpose of backing up!

backing up(Please click on the image for more information.)

On top of ALL THAT, certain portions of my digital files are ALSO backed up YET AGAIN on USB thumb drives, so those files have redundancy on top of redundancy!

Backing Up Your Backups: Storing Your Backup Media (whatever it is!)

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So, with your files backed up, now what?

Well, Archival Methods has museum-quality solutions for archivally storing your digital memory devices and CDs / DVDs / DVD-Rs to specifically address this point (see pix above & below).

 Yup, it’s all about archivally protecting (“backing up,” if you will) your backups!

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Left-Hand Image: Do you have thumb drives or camera memory cards tossed in a drawer someplace?
 Right-Hand Image: The USB/Memory Card Storage Kit is the PERFECT archival solution, as it offers
secure & organized(!) storage for these easy-to-lose storage devices and computer hard drive backups!
 1. camera memory cards  /  2. USB thumb drives  /  3. 35mm slides  /  4. CDs & DVDs
(Please click on either image for more information.)

If you have camera memory cards full of digital files of your art or photography portfolios, or you’ve spent a lot of time creating scans of family photographs / genealogy documents / or your collections and then backed them up to a thumb drive, make SURE these important storage devices ARE NOT LOST in some junk drawer someplace in your kitchen or office (see pix above)!

The USB/Memory Card Storage Kit is the PERFECT archival solution, as it offers secure & organized(!!!) storage of your thumb drives / camera memory cards / CDs & DVDs / even 35mm slides, and it includes EVERYTHING you need to document what’s what (see pix below)!

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Our USB & Memory Card Storage Kit: organization & identification made easy!
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Key to the Image on the Right:

          1. Index Card, for indexing & cross-referencing your USB drives & camera memory cards
          2. Perfectly-sized labels that let you number or otherwise identify your media
          3. Easy-to-assemble acid-free dividers that keep your Tray Bins organized
          4. One of the 8 fold-together acid-free Tray Bins included in the kit
          5. Assembled Tray Bin with dividers that can also be written on & cross-referenced


backing upThe same box the USB/Memory Card Storage Kit comes in fits my stand-alone backup hard drives. Cool!
(Please click on the image for more information.)

The Hinged Lid Gray Drop Front Box that the USB/Memory Card Storage Kit comes in is also available SEPARATELY, and is the PERFECT size for holding my stand-alone hard drives (see pix above)!

And if you’re backing up your files to DVD-R disks, well we’ve got that covered too (see pix below)!

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backing upLeft to Right:  CD/DVD Storage Kit  /  Accent CD/DVD Box Kit  /  
Accent Binder Box with CD/DVD Pages Kit / Eight Pocket CD/DVD Pages 
(Please click on each image for more information.)

Correct CD / DVD-R storage is all about SECURITY and EASY ACCESS. The archival kits and binder pages shown above offer BOTH of these features, and will also give you the peace-of-mind of knowing that your redundant data files are safe & easy to retrieve!


So, in closing, you may already be aware of the importance of BACKING UP your digital files, but hopefully you’re now considering the importance of “BACKING UP YOUR BACKUPS” by: 

          • having redundant backup mechanisms in place (the cloud AND/OR multiple physical hard drives,
             thumb drives, DVD-Rs)

           • archivally protecting your backups, in whatever form or media their in!

Doing these things will help protect you from what might otherwise be a TRUE disaster—losing your data / image files / snapshots / portfolios / collections data / & family or genealogy research.

Just as Archival Methods is here to help you “protect the past & the present—for the future,” we’re also here to help you “back up your backups!”

backing up(Please click on the image for more information.)

For further information on preventing or mitigating disasters, please see the following fully-illustrated blogs:

Horror Story Winners! / Archival Disasters

Light Damage / Protecting Your Collections from Harm

Water Damage / Saving Wet & Water Damaged Books

Conservators / Pros You Should Know

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Contact Us

If you have any additional questions on preserving your old photos and anything else in your collection, or would you like more information on any of our museum-quality archival storage and presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.

We would also like to encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and our large selection of informative and crisply-illustrated (and often humorous!) blogs for up-to-the-minute information, Archival Solutions of the Week (take a look at this archive for more info!), and stories of interest. Likewise, our exclusive short videos illustrate many of the archival products and procedures that you may wish to “see in action,” so please take a look!