Data Back-ups and Archiving

This is what my typical January looks like... at least the cold days. But as boring as it is, it's EXTREMELY important! So I thought I'd walk you through what I do with the data files from each and every shoot.
After each session (portrait or wedding) I'm coming home with very important memories on a little flash card (actually a lot of flash cards, not just one). So the first thing I do is download them to my computer. Then I copy them to an external drive where I'll edit them. But before that happens I'll copy them to another portable drive that gets stored in a fire safe off site. So now I have 3 hard drives with the same session on them... Well actually 4, the drive that I edit from is set up as RAID 1 so it is mirrored onto another drive... just to be safe :)
Now, the data that is stored off site in the fire safe stays there until the client receives their files. After which it is overwritten with new data.
But by the end of the year I am swimming in gigabytes of data and I want to make sure I have at least 2 archived discs of everything I've done, even personal work. So in that picture you can count 6 drives (plus the drive in my computer, 7). Two of which will be labeled 2010 with one copy stored in an on site fire safe and the other off site. Now I get to go "drive shopping" to replace the full ones for 2011 :)
Why is this so important? It's simple, hard drives fail! So if one of my drives happens to fail, or my house burns down, or I get robbed, I won't loose everything... the client will still get their pictures... and I can sleep better at night.

This is important for anyone that takes pictures. Most people will take a ton of pictures over the course of a year (parents of young children especially), they will download their memory card as it fills up to their computer. They won't back up that data and probably won't print very many of those pictures. Now, what happens in 3 years if your drive dies, if you get a computer virus, if you have a fire or flood? All of those pictures, those memories are GONE!