How to Preserve Your Photos

You’ve invested in a good digital camera, you are taking great photos the capture the moments of your family and friends, and you’re regularly copying your photos to your computer…………………..and you ask, am I done?  These are your precious memories that cannot be replaced.  Are they protected and preserved in a way that will last forever?  What have you forgotten and what could go wrong?  These are important questions and one hard drive crash on your computer can cause your photos to be gone forever!  Don’t let this happen to your precious memories.

In the old days photo preservation was a challenge.  Photos went directly from film to print and the prints themselves would fade and degrade over time.  Pictures could also be easily destroyed or damaged by weather, fire, floods, children or simply by time and use.  Since digital photos don’t fade or degrade over time many of us think that all is well and our photos will last a life time.  While it’s true that digital photos don’t fade and we have the opportunity to do a much better job of preservation, there are still many risks in the preservation of digital photos and if we don’t take the proper precautions our photos are at just as much risk if not more than the old printed photos.

If you’ve been using computers for a number of years you know the issue.  You’ve certainly lost a document or project you’ve been working on and you’ve probably had your entire computer crash.  You’ve probably also experienced your computer crashing and even losing your entire hard drive.  This is not fiction or a scare tactic it’s reality.  Those hard drives are mechanical and are spinning every second of every minute of every day that your computer is turned on.  Commercial businesses spend a lot of time and money ensuring they have redundancy (duplication) of their data so they are protected from inevitable hard drive failures.  You need to protect against this eventuality as well as the chance of physical damage through fire, floor or other natural disasters.  Of course you don’t have the resources nor want to spend the money that a commercial business does, but you do need the redundancy or duplication to ensure that you never lose your precious memories

There are a couple of options that are both reasonable in terms of price and time.  The first option is to use a USB external hard drive.  This is a hard drive that comes in a case and you plug into your computer.  It’s easy to attach and then disconnect and put in a drawer somewhere.  Prices have come down dramatically and you can purchase many Gigabytes quite affordably.  Many come with fancy software to do automated backups but I prefer the simplicity of just copying all my photos to the drive directly.  Then unplug it and put it in a drawer.  Then make sure you pull it out and do the same thing again every month or so, that way when you hard drive crashes you will have a backup of all your photos which you can easily copy over to a new hard drive.  Don’t leave your USB hard drive connected to your computer or you run the risk of losing that drive at the same time you lose your computer hard drive.  Not as likely but possible.  Having your external hard drive in the same physical location as your computer does not protect you from natural disasters.  For this protection you might want to consider keeping the USB drive at family, friends or work.  This does mean transporting it back and forth, but it does provide the added safety. 

Another option is to backup your photos to the internet.  Use a reputable website and they will provide another layer of redundancy on their side.  The beauty of this is that you have access to your photos from anywhere and anytime.  Many websites offer this capability, some also provide automatic backups while others act simply as an external USB storage drive.  Some of these websites will offer limited storage for free and then a monthly cost if you have a large storage requirement.  Be careful of any sites that offer unlimited storage for free forever…………….there just isn’t a business model behind that.  Also be careful that some of these sites on upload will resize your photo and you won’t be preserving the original as you thought.  While these sites are a great option for a backup they shouldn’t be your primary storage location which should remain your computer.

Commit now to making a second copy of your photos.  They are too precious and represent too many great memories for you to lose them.  Do it today and sleep better tonight!

ProPix Photography

The Sports Photography Professionals

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