Backup vs. Sync

We all know it’s important to back up our digital photo collections to keep them safe. In creating a back up copy it’s important to understand the difference between backing up your photos and synchronizing two folders to hold matching copies of your photos.

A backup copy of your photos should be a separate copy from your original photos. The backup copy should not change until you update it. You should move copies of your photos and videos into the backup location and they should just sit there, safe, in case you need them. Its purpose is to protect your photos.

Many systems can be set to synchronize, or “sync” your data. They link two separate folders and watch for any changes to be made. If you add a photo to folder A the system will automatically add that photo to folder B. The system works to make the folders synchronize, to look exactly the same. The problem is if you delete a photo from folder A, the system works to make the folders the same and will delete the photo from folder B. And it works the other way around too! If you delete a photo from folder B, it will work to delete that photo from folder A so the folders remain the same.

This can be dangerous for your backup copy where you just want that second copy sitting off to the side, safe, just holding a copy of your photos in case you need them.

Be careful when you are setting up your backup copies in online storage sites. Many of them have this syncing feature. An automatic back up is great but test your system to see what happens when you delete a photo. If it is also deleted from the other location your system is syncing and you need to turn this feature off.

This is why iCloud is not backing up your photos. iCloud syncs your photos so it’s like having one set of photos you can see in different locations. Make sure you understand the difference between backing up your photos and syncing your photos.

Read more about iCloud in this post: Why iCloud is NOT Backing Up Your Photos

And this post: Everything’s Going to iCloud but I Don’t Know What That Is (or How to Get Them Out)