Once you've taken some photographs on your DSLR camera or advanced point and shoot camera, you may want to have prints made. Or, perhaps, you may decide to store them on your computer, allowing you to view them whenever you want.
Whatever you do with your images, you need to make sure that you back them up onto some sort of digital storage. Neither prints nor computers are infallible, meaning it's always best to have another copy of your files just in case.
There are two main types of digital storage -- magnetic and optical.
- Magnetic Storage. This refers to any storage that comprises a "hard disk." So, while your computer has its own hard disk (known as the hard drive), you can also buy portable hard disks which plug into your computer via USB or Firewire cables.
Magnetic storage is, in my opinion, the most stable type of storage. It also holds a huge amount of data, as a 250GB (gigabyte) hard disk will hold around 44,000 12MP JPEG images, or 14,500 12MP RAW images. It's worth paying a little extra for a hard disk that comes with a cooling fan, as it can get pretty warm!
- Optical Storage. There currently are two popular types of optical storage -- CDs and DVDs. Both types are available in various "R" and "RW" formats.
While RW discs are re-writable, it is generally considered to be safer (and far cheaper) to use R discs, as they can only be burned once, and there is no danger of discs being accidentally over-written. On average, R discs are more stable over the long term than RW discs, too.
CDs hold 700MB (megabytes) of information and can hold around 125 12MP JPEG images, or 40 12MP RAW images. DVDs currently hold 4.7GB of information, which is about six times more than a CD. These are called single-layer DVDs.
Double-layer DVDs, holding 8.5GB of data, tend to be less compatible with computers at present.
Most disc-burning programs come with a "verification" option which, although it lengthens the process of burning a disc, is essential to follow. During verification, the program checks that the information burned on the CD or DVD is the same as that data found on the computer's hard drive. Errors are not unheard of when burning CDs or DVDs, and they can be particularly prevalent if other programs are being used during the burning process, so, when burning a CD or DVD, close all other programs and use verification, helping to avoid the potential of errors.