Backup your staff’s work on an external drive each year

I realized this week I need a better system for archiving the year that was. Years ago, with countless negatives and fewer digital files, the task was a bit more daunting. However, in this day and age when 99% of what we do is digital, there is no reason not to have an archiving system.

I’ve tried this before to some degree. I have good intention when a year ends. I work to backup the server (photos, stories, pages and all) on an external hard drive. I find the staff needs file photos every now and then for the next year and it’s nice to have those things on hand since we don’t have the server space to keep multiple years of work. My problem is that when one year ends, the newest stuff that needs backed up usually replaces the old on the backup drive, wiping out an entire year of archives.

After 13 years of advising I’ve decided this is a pretty stupid philosophy.

In a time when we can buy 1TB of external hard drive space for less than $100, there should be no reason we aren’t just buying an external hard drive each year to archive the work of the year that was. I plan to buy my drive this week and back up the entire year’s worth of work on a single drive. The drive will be labeled 2010-2011 and stored on a shelf in a closet in the room. When next year ends I’ll get a new drive, label it 2011-2012, fill it with next year’s data, and place it next to this year’s. I plan to get one drive for each year instead of packing multiple years on a single drive. External drives fail. It just happens. By backing up single years I can isolate the damage if one fails.

It’s something I should have done years ago. It’s something I’m sure many of you have already been doing. There’s really no reason that any of us shouldn’t be doing it at this point.

Below are some links to drives I randomly found online. I’m more than open to any that are out there. Let me know in the comments if you have a brand you prefer and why. Would love some advice on the purchase (or if you have a different system).

Western Digital Portable Hard Drive – 1TB – $99
Seagate GoFlex Portable Hard Drive – 1TB – $99.99
Western Digital Elements Desktop Hard Drive – 1TB – $65.87
Lacie  Minimus Desktop Hard Drive – 1TB – BH PHoto Video $78.99
Iomega Prestige Desktop Hard Drive – 1TB – $84.99



Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

Aaron Manfull has 868 posts and counting. See all posts by Aaron Manfull

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