Storing Digital Photos

Digital images are real space hungry on a computer.   If your computer were to crash or if a virus attacked it you could lose all your precious memories. You have  a number of options.

1. Make sure you save original files. Never change that file. Do a “save as,” and only edit the “saved as” image. I learned this the hard way.

2. Back up every image. There are a number of ways to do this. Keep them on your memory card. Beware of choosing this option. It can be pricey, and those small cards are easy to lose. They can also get damaged easily. If you back up every image on a CD make two copies. Store one someplace handy out of the sun; store the second copy somewhere safe off-site again in a dark place. Space is limited on a CD so you could back upon a DVD. Again, make two copies. DVDs have far more memory than a CD, so if you have lots of images, it’s worth investing in a DVD burner. Again keep away from the light. Discs use a vegetable oil compound to burn the image on the disk. This is suseptible to UV light. For the best protection you are better to use specialist photograph CD/DVD's such as Kodak Gold disks. These do not use vegetable oil and are tested to provide up 300 years archival.

3. Make high-quality prints of all your images. This isn’t ideal because scanning an image sacrifices some degree of quality, but it will provide some level of protection.

4. Use online storage. There are numerous websites that allow you to download photos to their server so you can share your photos with others. Sounds like a great solution. You won’t have to invest in CD or DVD burners or writable discs. However, size limits do apply.  And security issues are a concern.

5. External drives. There are a number of these, from very small in size (but big on memory) thumb drives to external USB hard drives.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a storage method:

1. Technology changes rapidly, so be prepared to change with it. CDs and DVDs may well be obsolete in ten years, so all that downloading and burning will likely have to be redone down the road. Expect change.

2. Using more than one backup method is a good idea. External hard drives can get viruses. They can get broken. They can crash. CDs and DVDs can get scratched. It’s a lot of work to have multiple backup sources, but if you value your images, it’s worth the investment.

3. Do not buy off-brand CDs or DVDs. Go with a name you can trust. Same with external or portable drives.

4. Remember that you should never edit your original image. And that is the image you will want to back up. (Although if you have spent hours creating special effects on an image, that’s certainly worth backing up as well.)