Having created your masterpieces, the next most important thing (after getting them to your market place) is to keep them safe, and accessible.
Many photographers are, at best, haphazard about backing up their images and maintaining an archive that will enable them to find their images in a hurry. Many have no processes to protect their images against accidental deletion or sudden and catastrophic equipment failure.
I will outline here a few of the procedures that I use, that ensure that should I lose some images I can retrieve them from my back-up systems.
Firstly, and most importantly don’t rely on a single back-up strategy, CDs and DVDs fail, often without warning, you burn them, you test them and put them somewhere safe and 6 months later they are un-readable. The problem is that you cannot tell what ones will fail or why. External Hard disks can also be prone to failure (in fact there is only two types of hard disk; ones that are about to fail and ones that have failed).
So with any back up process you will need to build in some redundancy, with CD/DVDs you could try burning two of each and hope that neither of them deteriorate to the stage were they cannot be read. Alternatively you could use multiple external hard disks, the likelihood of two failing simultaneously is remote. They also have a fundamental advantage of being available without the need to retrieve them from the cupboard under the stairs.
They take substantially less time to create a back up. I have burned many gigs of data to a hard disk in less time than it takes me to open the packaging on a CD/DVD carton.
I currently run two internal 160gb hard disks as the primary data sources with two 320gb external hard disks as the Archive and backup Archive. Using Silverkeeper software I back up the main archive daily to one external hard disk, I then once a week back up a second copy.
All back ups are save changes only, so rather than needing to write a whole hard disk of data, it only backs up the files that have been added or changed since the last back up.