I lost everything during that blaze. My Apple Mac Pro desktop and laptop computers, external hard drive, Canon printer, Lacie DVD duplicator and all my camera and studio equipment. Everything. Gone in a blink of an eye. Almost $50,000.00 in gear. Luckily I have insurance and the equipment is replaceable, but the lost images are not – especially the years of family photos I had stored on my computer.” –Kort Duce
Ideally, you’ll have two sets of backups or more in addition to your harddrive archive. One backup should be easily accessible where you are should you suffer working harddrive failure and the other should be at your parents’ house or your friend’s house, in case of fire, flood, and other freak of nature. In Duce’s account, he mentions RAID as a possible backup solution, in addition to other strategies. That’s advice I hear a lot in photo communites, and I’d advise against using RAID as a backup. RAID is not a backup. A RAID array is useful for maintaining uptime when a harddrive fails. However, RAID will also duplicate any bad data you put in. If you accidentally delete a file or directory, the RAID array will go ahead and delete that file or directory on each of the discs in the RAID array.
Remember these 3 things: Always backup. Backup in multiple locations. RAID is not a backup.
(update 12/28: Kort Duce wrote in to clarify some details in this post. He does not advocate RAID as a backup and he did not lose “everything” in the fire. Duce maintains separate backups in his home office.)