One of the things most people use computers and cell phones for nowadays is taking and storing digital photos. This can be a giant step forward from the shoeboxes of yellowing Polaroids, or it can be a disaster waiting to happen. If you’re storing your digital photos and videos on your computer’s hard drive or an external hard drive without any backups, you’re setting yourself up to lose your precious memories—forever.
DON’T Rely on These Backup Options
External hard drives, storage media (CD and DVD-ROMs), and USB drives can be a part of an overall, multilayer backup solution, but many people use them incorrectly as their sole storage option or backup plan for their photo collections. This hardware is not designed to store your files and media; it is designed to keep a duplicate copy of your files in case of emergency. These options pose many risks:
- Security—What if they are lost or stolen?
- Damage—The can be broken, scratched, or otherwise impaired and almost impossible to fix.
- Loss of functionality—Excessive use will hasten their inevitable failure.
Using Facebook as your primary photo storage option is also a terrible idea. Facebook is under no obligation to maintain your photos or their accessibility; your photos could disappear at any time.
Reliable Photo Storage for Casual Photo-Takers
You likely take photos on your cell phone, tablet, or other connected device and/or upload digital photos from a point-and-shoot camera to your computer. If you are a typical photographer who takes selfies and photos of family, friends, and the things they you do in life, you want to access your photos quickly and easily so you can reminisce or share them.
Many people don’t back up their photos from their phone at all, leaving them vulnerable to losing everything when their phone is lost, stolen, or broken. Even though backing up your device’s memory to your computer’s hard drive might seem like a better option, it’s a temporary solution at best since your hard drive will inevitably crash or fail permanently. Plus, dropping many large photo and video files on your hard drive can eat up your available memory and slow down the performance of your machine.
If you’ve been reluctant to use a photo storage solution because of expensive monthly fees from cloud service providers, difficult and inconvenient upload procedures, poor sharing capabilities, and slow interfaces, take another look at today’s cloud-based storage solutions. For the cell phone photographer, we HIGHLY recommend using your cell phone's free cloud sync app for photos: Google Photos for Android users and iCloud for iPhone users. When you take photos, these programs automatically upload them to the cloud for backup and sharing. You can easily view and share files from any device with access to the internet, and they continue to sync automatically once they are activated without any additional maintenance. Both programs are free and offer unlimited cloud storage with certain restrictions on uploaded file size or paid plans for higher quality photo storage.
Professional-Grade Photo Storage for Avid Photographers
Professional and avid novice photographers who use high-end camera equipment may have different photo storage needs (e.g., many more photos that may be larger in size). Professional photography equipment may also not allow the same kinds of internet-enabled photo transfer methods, so files may need to be transferred manually to a computer via USB or memory cards. If this is the case, make sure you have a quality backup solution in place and that you keep your files on your main hard drive (the one being backed up)—not your external hard drive. Program your backup software to keep copies on your external drive automatically. Talk to a professional about your backup options to ensure you are getting the protection you need at the best price. Many programs offer reasonably priced professional cloud backup options.
Scanning, Sharing, and Printing
If you already have a shoebox of pictures you’d like to drop into your online library, you have some options. Apps such as Google Photo Scan allow you to scan your photos using your phone or tablet and automatically integrate them into your collection. If you don’t want to “do it yourself,” there are numerous online services that will accept and convert your physical photos to digital files that you can then connect with your Google Photos or iCloud. It’s generally unnecessary to purchase a standalone scanner for a one-time project.
Google Photos and iCloud both have built-in features that allow you to share your photos with others online and offer some printable options. They also integrate with other services to allow you to easily order and print photos and gift items (including from Walgreens drugstores). Amazon Prime also offers an easy-to-use photo storage program for its members with printable options, and Shutterfly has for many years been a reliable option for people who want to quickly and easily create prints, photo books, cards, and other photographic media.
Reliable, safe long-term storage of your precious memories in cloud photo storage solutions is easier and cheaper than ever before. If you need help taking your photos to the cloud, backing up your other computer data, or implementing a complete data backup plan for your home or business computers, contact the professionals at Dymin Systems. We'd love to help you out!