[This is a guest post written by Amy from PhotoOrganize.me]
“What do a computer hard drive and a gerbil have in common? Their average lifespan is about 3-5 years.” – T.E. Ronneberg
Curling and perhaps cracked around the edges, your grandparents’ black-and-white wedding photos stand a better chance of surviving than your own digital photos.We love to snap images on our smart phones, show them to friends from our devices, and share some of them on social media. But we often forget to download and back them up properly, failing to recognize that SIM Cards are where many digital images go to die. When the smartphone falls in the toilet or the puppy decides it’s a snack, then we remember. Panic sets in, and the regrets pile up.
We can be forgiven, in a way.
So much in life is urgent, although it’s not necessarily as important as the images you captured on your phone. And for all of the advantages and supposed simplicity that the digital era has brought us, it also has brought us murkiness.
What’s our system for backing up?
Usually, we don’t have one.
Isn’t it just done automatically by this gadget that can do practically everything else?
Um, not necessarily.
How do I even know where or how to begin?
It starts with creating a plan.
How do you remember to do anything that’s a repetitive act, such as giving the puppy his heartworm pill on time, or buying milk and bread at the grocery store? You schedule it and create reminders, until it becomes routine.
Do it now. Create a reminder on your calendar for the 1st of the month – Back up all digital devices. If you take a lot of photos, you may want to set aside 15 minutes at a certain time each weekend, perhaps Sunday night, while planning the rest of the week, to take care of this task. Your images are only as safe as your most recent backup – and that’s as long as that backup is also backed up.
Personal photo organizers (you can find one near you at www.appo.org, if you need assistance) recommend having three copies of your most important images:
- The original, saved in your Digital Photo Hub, which can be a dedicated folder on your computer’s hard drive, or an external hard drive dedicated only to your photos – any place that ALL of your photo images live together. Your phone’s internal memory and cloud solutions are NOT the best choice for this hub.
- A backup copy, stored in the cloud. Some storage is free with iPhoto and Google Photos, but you may need to purchase more. Be sure to delete any duplicate, blurry or otherwise unimportant images (grocery list pics?) first. Why pay to house the duds? Backblaze, Carbonite and Dropbox offer automatic online syncing that works well.
- Another backup device that you retain control over – preferably a backup hard drive. It can be where you back up all of your important documents for safekeeping. A flash drive or CD/DVD is just OK; they can get corrupted or, in the case of a CD/DVD, scratched and unreadable.
Multiple copies may seem unnecessary, until you consider that individually, each of these solutions is susceptible to failure. Together, they create a safety net for your photos.
About the author: Amy, a certified personal photo organizer, helps shutterbugs turn their images into organized collections, meaningful books, and treasured keepsakes. She writes about photos, stories and wellness at PhotoOrganize.me and AmyHoogervorst.com