Ah, my favorite post!
Sharra, you sound a little nuts, but in this respect, it’s a perfectly good nuts! There’s nothing wrong with having them backed up in all those places. OP, I agree with the suggestions to get a couple of external drives and some form of online storage. First back up everything to your external devices, and then I’d suggest doing overnight backups to the online storage. I recently got a SmugMug account. I started backing up stuff from 2005, which is as far back as my snapshots go, since they’re all smaller size jpg’s they don’t take forever (well, a few hours per month folder). Some of those are still on disks which I’m slowly chucking in the trash as soon as I get them all uploaded. I pay for the extra service to upload RAW files also. It amounts to such a small cost per month. The only RAW files I save from my own personal photos are ones I really feel I might want to re-edit later, and the RAWs I save from client work are the ones of the photos I kept and edited. That reminds me, I need to do a few more backups again. I’ve kept my Macbook on overnight and turned off the auto shutoff feature so that I can just sleep as it uploads. I keep my external drives in a small fireproof lockbox in my house, but I would like to get another one and keep it at my dad’s house or something, just in case.
My form of file folder organization is Year_MonthNumber_Month. So, like 2012_11_November. It makes for easy cataloging and keeping them in chronological order. My files are always named things like Nov2012-3489.jpg or the like. If it’s a client photo, it’s the first 3 letters of their last name plus the previous filename.
It is always a good thing to think of- a friend of mine who is also a semi-pro photographer recently was burglarized. She had the iMac set up in the basement- why the thief would think of going into the unfinished basement anyway (they think the burglar must have been someone who knew them, as they only targeted items from certain rooms and knew the computer was in the basement). Luckily, she had backed up client work already, but the two recent shoots she did and had not backed up yet were still on her camera card which was luckily not stolen, even though it was sitting right next to the computer that was. However, she did not have some of her personal family photos backed up and lost all the photos of her two kids’ births as well as all the other family snapshots. She said she cried for two days straight.