How to Back-up your Digital X-ray System

Apr 26, 2021 1:13:52 PM / by Mike Hutchison

One thing that many clinics overlook is making sure that you have a backup copy of your digital x-rays. Most tend to start a backup only after the unfortunate event of losing their data. This can happen due to a variety of reasons such as electrical storms, floods, or a computer virus. It is important to be proactive with backing up your digital x-ray system to ensure that your images are safe. It is not only recommended but is a HIPAA requirement. In this article, we will go through some of the options available for digital x-ray backup and some important factors that you will want to consider. 

X-ray images are stored as DICOM images, which is a universal imaging standard in medical imaging. A digital x-ray system will typically come with some type of local storage, which will be located on the acquisition computer, which is what is connected to your DR panel. This storage is typically a PACS system,  which stands for Picture Archive and Communication system. A PACS system is a searchable database of your medical images which can typically be viewed using either a DICOM-based viewer. A PACS system is a great way to store and view your digital x-rays, however, you will still want to consider options for how to back up your images in the event of a disaster. 

What is the best way to back up your digital x-ray system?

There are a number of options available to help you securely back up your digital x-ray system. The various options have different associated costs and features. Here are the three options that we recommend with an outline of some of the benefits for each one. 

  • External Harddrive
  • Cloud Storage
  • Cloud-Based PACS

External Hard drive Digital X-ray Back-up

Using an external hard drive to back up your DICOM digital x-rays is an affordable option to make sure you have a second copy. However, there are some things you will want to consider. You can purchase an external hard drive for under $100 which will provide you with enough storage to back up your digital x-rays. Many of the available external hard drives will come with software to automatically back up your entire computer or just select the folder that has the digital x-ray images. 

The downside to the external hard drive is that the external drive is not located off-site, so if there was an on-site disaster it would not protect your digital x-ray images. Another downside is that recovering your x-rays would take more time to import them back into a system that would allow you to be able to read them again. 

Estimated Cost: $50-100 w/ no ongoing cost

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a great option for providing a consistent backup of your digital x-rays. There are many services out there such as DropBox, BackBlaze, and Google Drive. These services charge a monthly fee to store files in an off-site shared server. With cloud storage, you can simply choose the folder you want to back up and it will make a copy in a secure off-site server which you can access in the event of a disaster. 

Similar to an external hard drive it can be time-consuming when you have to recover your images, however, having them off-site offers an extra layer of protection. 

Estimated cost: $10-20/ month depending on the amount of required storage

Cloud-Based PACS

A cloud-based PACS system is similar to the PACS system that typically will come with a digital x-ray system, however, a cloud PACS will provide off-site storage, viewing, and image sharing. This is a great option for customers that want to easily back up their digital x-rays to the cloud and also have access to view them and even securely share access to patients, referring physicians or radiologist. 

Another benefit is for customers that have multiple clinics or offices and would like all of their digital x-rays to be stored and viewable in one location. 


Estimated Cost: $0.50 - $1.50 per study. A study is considered a number of x-rays in a single office visit. 

There are a variety of different options to back up your digital x-rays, however, it is important that you consider which one makes the most sense for your business. Regardless of what option you choose it is important to have some form of backup for your digital x-rays. 


Mike Hutchison

Written by Mike Hutchison