Screenprint Artist Toolbox – Backup Drives

backup drives

As a professional artist, not everything in our arsenals is geared at creating artwork. In this case, we’re looking at something made to save it…and our asses.

If you’ve watched any of my tutorials, you know I’m always calling out shortcut keys for what I’m doing. In fact, I really couldn’t tell you where half of the menu items I use actually are because I use shortcuts nearly religiously.

Either way, most things accomplished in a computer can be done using shortcuts. Two of them are throwing away a file and emptying the trash. These little buggers got me in hot water one day.

I was flying through my list of jobs, finishing this, separating that, printing this, outputting film, holding hands, you name it.

In this whirlwind we all experience on a daily basis in the screen-printing world, I went to open a file to make some adjustments requested by the client, then re-output the film for it.

Only, the damn files went missing! Not just a single file, the FILES, as in plural! I trashed the entire folder flying through some stuff earlier with those damn shortcut keys!

No worries, I’ve always been incredibly militant about backing up to our server. I’ll check there. Son of a bitch, it’s not there!

Luckily for me, a few months earlier, I added a third option in our backup rig at the shop and I found it there! Phewww. Yay for Time Machine and that little inexpensive external drive!

Building Redundancy in Your Backups

I like to consider my computer as the first level. In my workflow, I keep the files on my comp only while the job is in the queue.

Once it’s printed, I ship everything over to the server. I’d do it by hand every Friday night just before closing down shop. Getting in this habit allowed me to stay up on where my jobs were and ensured I not only backed up my work, but got it all done as well.

Still, this wasn’t enough for me so I added an external drive to the shop computer and started running Time Machine on it.

Not that you need to have this much redundancy but in dealing with clients and their artwork, this made me feel a little better. Thankfully as well, it also saved my ass that day.

Which Backup Drive Is Best For You

Having set up a number of art departments, all on varying budgets, I’ve found there to be absolutely no difference between the performance I’ve received from the high-dollar stuff and the mid-range external drives. And since that little story I just told ran a little long, I’ll jump right into what I’m using at home.

seagate goflexI’m currently using this Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500 GB backup drive on my personal rig. It’s absolutely silent and it’s been serving me reliably for the past few years with zero problems. Best of all, it’s cheap!

I’m running Time Machine on it and manually backing up other video projects, pics, music and the like.

Of course, if you’re in need of something larger, you can always jump up to the 1.5TB version. This size would be perfect for a small shop and at the price, it’s hard to pass up.

I love this thing. It’s nice, inexpensive and they do their job well…at least mine has served me as required.

Updated Backup Drive

wd-passport-ultraI’ve since added another drive to my rig at home. This one is the Western Digital My Passport Ultra 2TB.

For the most part, it’s just as solid and quiet as the Seagate above. My only qualm with it is that it’s got this annoying LED that blinks constantly when it’s plugged in.

Other than that, it’s great.

Whatever you decide to go with, the only thing that really matters is that you actually get a backup drive…or two. It’s more important to have one than to find yourself wishing you did when it’s too late.

For Windows sufferers, here’s a list of backup utilities found over at

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