If you want to make sure your digital photos are kept safe and sound, you'll back up your images ... while watching out for a few key potential problems. As a professional photographer, I always make dual backups of all of my imagery, so that it's burned onto both magnetic (hard disk) and optical (CD/DVD) storage.
Even if you don't want to go to that much effort, however, it's worth keeping an eye out for any problems that might arise. Use these tips to avoid photo storing errors.
- Data Stability. Optical storage is obviously far more fragile than magnetic hard disks, as even a simple scratch can stop a CD or DVD from working. The materials that make up CDs and DVDs are also prone to deterioration over time, and they will have a more limited life span than a hard disk.
In addition, optical storage is affected by the way in which you store the actual disc, and by how many times the computer reads data from the disc. Bottom line: The discs need to be well looked after!
Even though magnetic storage is stronger than optical storage, it also will deteriorate eventually. Hard disks can also be affected by power surges, strong magnetic fields, or corruption of the file structure. Perhaps the biggest threat to a hard disk is a fall -- if you drop the hard disk or computer, the fragile hard disk read/write heads could break, leaving the hard disk inoperable.
Handle both types of storage carefully, and always have backup copies.
- Data Recovery. If the worst happens, and your photography data is corrupted or ruined, it's almost impossible to recover any usable data from CDs or DVDs.
Hard disks stand a far better chance of recovery in a worst-case scenario, but the recovery process can be expensive and time consuming.
- Thinking Ahead. Finally, don't forget that technology is constantly evolving. Remember the floppy disk? We wouldn't even conceive of using them nowadays, as there are far more advanced technology options available.
You can't even use floppy disks on most modern computers, so don't forget that this could happen with both magnetic and optical storage down the road. You need to pay attention to changes in technology, and change your methods of backing up your photos accordingly in the future.