If you are like me, and I am betting you are, you have replaced most of your film cameras with digital cameras. Digital cameras are certainly the go to camera for the average home user these days. Even the higher end SLR’s are digital these days. The digital photo is more convenient because you don’t have to pay to have it developed and it is available immediately. Part of that ease of use also prevents a problem that needs to be addressed, backing up those irreplaceable photos.
We have a 16 month old girl so you can imagine we take lots of photos and videos. These are priceless photos that I would never forgive myself for losing. Photos that reside only on your computer are not backed up. The hard drive holding them can and will eventually stop working. If the hard drive has a hardware failure your only choice of recovering those photos will be spending $X,XXX amount of dollars for advanced data recovery. Even that doesn’t guarantee you will get your photos back. This is why backing up your photos and videos is so important. Here are a few ways to backup them up and the pros and cons of each way.
- Backup to another internal/external hard drive – This is one of the most common methods. External drives are pretty cheap these days and it is easy to setup an automated backup using any of the most popular operating systems. While this method seems sound, it really only protects against accidental deletion or primary hard drive failure. If someone breaks into your house and steals your computer, they will probably take your external hard drive with them. Same thing goes for a fire. You will lose the computer and the external drive.
- Another very popular method is to back your photos and videos up on CD or DVD media. This is another good way but has some hidden limitations you might not expect. The usual method for buying blank CDs and DVDs is too look for a good price and buy them in bulk. The problem with this is the cheap ones are cheap for a reason. They aren’t guaranteed to last. You need to spend a little extra on your media and get archival quality. You will probably spend around $1-2 a piece, but the archival grade media is usually guaranteed to last 100 years.
- My favorite option is an online backup. This basically backs your photos and videos up across the Internet to your online storage. There are several large companies that offer this type of service. You could even make your own using something like the Amazon cloud. I actually use Google’s online storage in conjunction with their Picasa image software. Picasa will upload my photos and keep my pictures folders synced. You get 2GB free from Google, but I am using a plan where I pay $5 a year for 20 GB of online storage. That is a little more expensive than using DVDs, but it gives you an offsite backup. If my house burns down, I will still be able to log in from a different computer and access all of my pictures. I say pictures because you will need to buy one of the bigger plans if you want to upload a lot of videos to this service.
The most important thing to take from this article is the importance of backing up your photos. Even if your method isn’t the best, it is better than none at all. I promise you, all computer hard drives, internal or external eventually fail. I don’t want to be the one telling you the pictures of your child’s first steps are gone.