Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

How To Backup and Store Your Digital Photo Files

Flickr photo: Chas.™

Last week I blogged about how I have been organizing and tagging all my digital photos during frequent 3 hour flights. I received several comments and questions from readers about what to do with those photos once they are tagged and organized into a meaningful architecture.
I find myself once again sitting on an airplane and thought I would take this time to address this issue, which is actually two different issues; how to safely store the images and how to use and share the images, rather than have them sit or eternity in folders on your hard drive. This week I will look at the issue of storage and next week we’ll talk about ways of displaying your photos and sharing them with others.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the past few years, the technology of hard drives, CDs and DVDs, and now online backups, it just keeps changing. One thing is for certain, do not do all the previously mentioned photo editing work and then let these files sit on your computer without any kind of backup. Hopefully most of you have never lived through a hard-drive crash but enough of you probably have to know what I am talking about. A friend recently lost his hard-drive and posted on Facebook that he felt sick to his stomach. That’s probably typical of the experience of losing years of data that is not replaceable.

I think that it’s always good to have a backup hard-drive connected to your computer with software that does a daily backup of important data. These programs allow you to specify what data you want to save while other programs suck as Carbon Copy Clone, will do a complete system backup. Should your computer fail, the hard-drive can be used to restore your data or transfer to a new computer in the event of full-system meltdown.

Now if your house catches on fire, or gets burgled, this system isn’t going to save your data because your computer will either be stolen or ruined. Even a strong power outage can fry both your computer and your backup hard drive. So you’ll need to think of a backup to your backup plan. You have a few different options here.

The easiest is to use a “cloud” which stores your data on a remote server some place else. I currently use Mozy and have been very happy with it. I also use .Mac and Dropbox, which can all do the same thing although I use them for different purposes. Mozy has a little icon on my computer that I click and everything gets uploaded to a server somewhere and stored. If something minor happens, such as if I accidentally delete a file, then I can restore that data from the backup. If any of the previously mentioned calamities happen, my data is safe and secure and can be restored to a new computer. Data can also be synchronized between computers such as a desktop and laptop or mobile device.

Are these clouds safe? For the time being, yes. Should the companies go out of business, I would hope they would give enough warning that you could make other arrangements for your data. Will their servers crash? Possibly, but most have redundant backup that protects them. After all, their business is to cover you.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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