With most of today's photos being stored digitally, rather than being in prints, you need to rethink how you store the photos. The shoebox in a drawer won't work any more. Try these tips for protecting and storing your digital photos.
- Obviously, with photos stored digitally, it's extremely important to make backup copies of your photos regularly. Most photos are irreplaceable, so I'd suggest having at least two current backup copies beyond your current hard drive.
- Do not leave your all of your backup copies in the same place. If you have copies of your photos stored on a stack of CDs, on your hard drive, and on a secondary hard drive, that's a good system. However, if all of those items are stored in and on the same desk, you'll lose all of your copies in case of a fire, even if that fire is a small one. Spread out your backup copies. Consider keeping some CD copies in a safe deposit box, for example.
- Another storage option is to copy your photos to a Web site that specializes in data storage or image storage. You'll probably have to pay a monthly or annual fee, but the data definitely will be in a site away from any other backup copies you may have. The risk is the site may go out of business, and your photos at that site won't be retrievable, so only use these sites as a backup option, not as your primary storage source.
- Organization is important for protecting your photos. If you have your digital photos well organized and easy to find, you'll have a much lower chance of deleting the wrong photo.
- If the thought of backing up thousands of photos is overwhelming to you, consider only making backup copies of your most important photos. If you narrow the list of all of your photos to around 100 images, making backup copies will take far less time.
- You also could choose to keep only your most important photos on a small USB drive and then back up all of your photos on CDs or DVDs. With the most important backups on the small USB drive, you even could carry it with you all of the time, perhaps on a key chain, allowing you to share the photos at any time.
- When storing your photos, be sure you remain up to date with the latest storage technology. For example, if the last time you made a backup copy of your photos, you used 3.5-inch diskettes, it might be time to update your backups, because so few computers have diskette drives anymore. Eventually, you'll want to replace your CD backups with DVD backups, too. Or just add newer technologies to your list of backup media options, such as adding USB flash drives to your CDs and DVDs.
- Finally, make sure to test your backups from time to time. Even though it doesn't happen often, CDs and DVDs can degrade over time or when exposed to sunlight or heat. Once a year or every couple of years, test the discs to make sure you can still read them with the computer.