After an early incident where the first year and a half of all of Blast Theory’s files were accidentally deleted in an Amstrad floppy drive, we thought that for a long time we had our shit together with archiving and backups. From the late 1990s, neatly labelled stacks of ZIP disks and DAT tapes sat smugly in equally neat rows of archive boxes.

Skip to 2013. Following an intense site visit to Japan to interview fishermen about life after the tsunami, we came home to find that media from one of the interviews had gone missing. All that was left were some handwritten notes which included a quote that ultimately became the title of the work – The Thing I’ll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life. On the back of the grief at losing one of the most precious pieces of video we’d ever captured, we committed to never losing media from a card again. The result was these little baggies for card media that we pack for every shoot. Each has a series of tick boxes for the back-ups and checks the card must go through before being deleted. And it’s worked. So far…

Skip to 2022. The ZIP drives have gone but the DAT tapes still need to be transferred. We now have tens of terabytes spread across hard drives, mobile devices, servers and cloud services all with their own wrinkles. Just when we think we have it down again, a bunch of empty folders gets copied into our archive… (thank you, Dropbox SmartSync). The lesson we’re still learning is that backing up is a moving target – not something we can simply switch on and forget. For a group like us, it’s about checking in with each other from time to time, reminding ourselves what’s precious and sanity checking what we’re doing to look after it. At least it’s never tedious.

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