Always back up……..seriously!

Written by: | Date:

No matter how safe you think your workflow is, it can likely stand to be a little bit safer. Find out what YOU can do to ensure that you never lose your work again.

You’ve heard it over and over, and over and over, and over and over……..regardless of how often it’s said, it will always hold true and never ring truer than when your data is lost.

A corrupt file is a corrupt file

It doesn’t matter if it’s an award winning shot, or just a picture of a friend drinking a beer on an inner tube, a corrupt file is a corrupt file and that is always going to ruin your day.

Sure your workflow is safe enough?

From a “Tech Tip” perspective you may roll your eyes and not heed the advice but trust us, no matter how safe you think your workflow is, it can likely stand to be a little bit safer.  Here are a few suggestions to improve your security.


1. Use a dedicated Backup system, NOT JUST a RAID system.  RAIDs are great to keep you working if a drive goes down, but separate sources dedicated to backup are a MUST for redundant and safe storage.


  • A typical RAID system isn’t smart enough to know if a file is corrupt, but it will do a fine job of making sure you never lose that corrupt file! Should a file become corrupt, a RAID system will just perpetuate the existence of that corrupt file, not provide you with a backup of the viable data.  Separate, dedicated backup drives are the only way to ensure the safety of your files going forward.


2. Use Automated backup software.  You don’t always remember to back up and you can’t always find the time to do it manually.  Spend the $50 on professional software that will routinely backup files and check data for changes.  Something like Chronosync (pictured below), Superduper or even Apples Time Machine are necessary parts of a safe workflow.


3. Work smarter not harder.  Using features in Capture One Pro 7 like the Catalog workflow can do wonders to streamline a backup workflow.  Even if you are dedicated to the Session workflow, it doesn’t hurt to create new Catalogs on a routine basis, referencing RAW files already edited in the Session and importing their adjustments into the backup Catalog.


4. This will result in a Catalog that contains all the adjustments for your RAW data in one, easy to copy/store/archive file.


  • The available “Backup” Catalog feature will not only create a copy of the Catalog that contains your changes since the last backup, but it will also guilt you into remembering by noting the last time you backed up.


  • The backups of your Catalog are easily available in their default location or in a specific location you can choose (perhaps an external and dedicated backup drive would be best)

TechTip-25. When considering the best solution to protecting your data, don’t cheapen out.  Consider the real cost of a single lost image.  If you’re a traveling photographer, should the hero shot reside in only one location, losing it is the same as losing the whole job.  Always backup CF cards while on the road to at least 2 separate sources and, if it all possible, don’t format the CF card until you’re home safe and sound.


Stay safe out there kids!

~ Drew

Drew Altdoerffer

Drew Altdoerffer

Drew is a Technical Supporter for Phase One as well as all partner companies. He works directly with customers in addition to assisting partners and sales associates alike to better understand the features of all of Phase One’s products. His role in the company extends to photographic workshops, training seminars and sales events.

13 thoughts on “Always back up……..seriously!

  1. david leyes

    can you tell me how to create a catalogue if I’m a sessions user?
    and would i make a catalogue to safe all my sessions?…
    sorry just a bit confused

    1. Drew Altdoerffer Post author

      David, all you need to do is go to File>New Catalog and then import the folder, or folders, that contain your RAW images into the Catalog. Be sure to check the option to Include Existing Adjustments. This will create a Copy of your RAW data and Adjustments inside a single Catalog file.
      Keep in mind however that this example is intended for archiving/backup purposes as once the images are imported into the Catalog, any further adjustments to the data int the new catalog cannot be shared with the existing session.


  2. Allan Marshall

    I have backed up my catalogues. When I try open the back up from where I have saved it ext hard drive.
    They don’t open up in Capture pro, get a ? mark on the images. In capture pro Confuessed as to why this happens.

    1. Drew Altdoerffer Post author

      Hi Allan,
      This simply means that you’ve backed up all the Adjustments to the RAW files but not the RAW files themselves. This is known as a “Referenced” catalog as the RAW files remain where they are on your system and the Catalog simply references them. In this case, the location that they are referencing no longer holds the RAW files.
      For Backing Up it is suggested that you use an “Internal” catalog, where the RAW files are actually copied INTO the catalog itself.
      To reconnect the bridge between your Catalog and the RAW files, click on either the file in the Browser and choose “Locate” navigating to where the RAW file is, or click on the entire folder in the Library Tool and use the Locate function.

  3. Tim

    Hey Drew,

    Nice Article :)

    How do you back up in the field? Or even when you do not have a laptop with you?


    1. Drew Altdoerffer Post author

      Hi Tim,
      I always bring 2 External Hard Drives with me as well as backup to my laptop for the heavy shooting. If I’m backpacking though, weight is an issue so I bring Extra CF cards and an Android tablet. Suffice to say the details for that backup method are a bit technical but with some good googling you can find a method that will suit your needs.

  4. paolo

    ciao drew,
    thanks a lot for your precious article, i already have been in touch with you through phase one user to user forum about other arguments.
    i usually use chronosync and i would like to know if it checks if the file files getting corrupted during synchronitation and if i can schedule a continuos synchro during tethered shooting or is better to wait at the end of the session to do this.
    grazie again!

    1. Drew Altdoerffer Post author

      Hi Paolo,
      Chronosync is fine to run while your shooting. If it only copies half of a captured image, while your capturing, then it will replace it with the full file once written. As far as detecting a corrupt file, there are settings within it to alert you for changes to files but recognizing it specifically as “corrupt” is a lot for a program to do. I think it be best if you contacted Chronosync and explained to them what you’re looking to do and they can offer advice on the best setup.

  5. Pingback: Always back up - Marinus Wieten Blog

    1. Emmanuel Mellet

      I will be very interested by the answer too. I have a catalog to restore and cannot do it properly…

    2. Drew Altdoerffer

      Just open it.

      The catalog Backup is just the Database.
      It’s a little easier to explain to a PC user as the catalogs on PC are the database, and then a group of folders relating to it in a parent folder. On Mac, we can “wrap” the database and all the folders so it looks like one clean file, even though it’s nothing more than a folder with all the elements within it.

      That being the case, simply opening a Backup Catalog is what is needed to “restore”. The backup Catalog will then recreate all the Proxy files. It may not look as clean as the initial catalog because it’s now broken down into it’s visible elements, but it’s all the same.

      If you really wanted to, you can put the backup and all the folder elements in a folder and then rename the folder to a “.cocatalog” Then, like magic, its a Catalog.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>