How To Archive Your Digital Photos
With digital photography as inexpensive and easy as it is today, chances are that you have more photos of your family, friends and the special moments of your life than ever before.
If you’re like most people, all of those photos are sitting on your computer, in a bunch of different folders.
Or worse, hundreds of them are sitting in your camera, just waiting to be accidentally erased. And what about your regular print photos – the kind you have in photo albums or frames? At least the digital photos have a chance of being copied and backed up in a few different locations. But if those one-of-a-kind family photos are destroyed, they’re gone forever. Digital or print, all it takes is one fire, flood, fried hard drive, or hacked Facebook account and all of those memories are gone, along with a huge piece of your family’s history. Before we start backing up your current photos, here are a few tips on ways to safeguard all the photos you’ll be taking in the future.
Do you regularly pictures with your phone? If you do, how often do you download them to your computer for printing or safekeeping?
Everyone should get into the habit of downloading their new pictures and videos every few days.
Dropbox is a great tool for this. It’s a free application/web based file box that syncs up the photos and documents on your smartphone or tablet with your computer. All you have to do is set up and download their app on your iPhone, Android smartphone, tablet, iPad or iPod Touch. Then save your new photos to your Dropbox folder and they’ll be waiting for you at home on your computer.
Another great option is to take your favorite photos and make them into a special keepsake, like a smartphone case. Casetify is so wonderful at this. All you have to do is upload your photo using the Casetify app and they’ll turn your picture into a beautiful but tough smartphone case for your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone.
Now that you’ve got your smartphone photos under control, how about your digital camera? Exactly how many photos are on your SD card right now? Yeah, that’s what we thought. So before you get started, be sure to download all of the pictures from your cameras. And while you’re at it, download any videos lurking on your video camera too. We’ll take care of those in another blog post.
Your Mission: If You Choose to Accept It…
…is to make all of your treasured photos completely accessible during a disaster, emergency evacuation, computer or Internet meltdown. Just follow the steps below to locate all of your important photos, scan or copy them, and store them in at least three secure, damage-proof locations.
1. Grab Your Cameras
If you’re like most people, your digital photos are in one of two places – sitting on your computer, in a bunch of different folders. Or worse, sitting in your camera or phone, just waiting to be accidentally erased.
So if you have any photos on your cameras or phones, go get them now and download them to your computer, saving them to the folder where you normally store them.
2. Ready For Backup
Since you’re already on your computer, let’s back up all of your digital photos.
Create one new folder on your computer desktop and name it Backup Photos (dd/mm/yy) with today’s date.
Locate all of the digital photos that you want to keep safe. Leave the original files where they are on your computer, but copy each one and place the copies in your new Backup folder.
If you need instructions on copying and moving files and folders on your computer, you’ll find them on our post How To Back Up Your Data or if you’d rather, just download the How-To Sheet.
When you’re through copying and pasting your folders into the Backup Folder, make sure that there is a copy of your folders in the original location as well as the new location.
3. How To Get Your Digital Photos To Download Themselves
By the way, if you regularly have trouble remembering to download your pictures from your phone and camera, here ere are two things you can do that will really help. For your phone, go right now and install the Dropbox app. It’s a free app that will send every photo you take with your phone directly to your computer.
As for your camera, simply get a Wi-Fi enabled camera or the Eye-Fi smart memory card for your old camera. Snap a photo and it arrives on your computer. No muss, no fuss.
4. Safely Storing Digital Photos
Where and how you decide to secure and store your photos is up to you. But here are a few ideas. If your photos are digital, you can place them:
On a flash drive or portable hard drive, and take them with you during evacuation on a key ring or in your plastic evacuation bin.
Place the flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
Place the flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
Place the photos on a password-protected online file repository or on the file directory of your family’s personal web site. This way, you can retrieve them from any Internet-enabled computer.
You can also save an extra copy of your photos on Flickr or another internet photo service. But this really shouldn’t be your long-term solution, or only solution. As much as we all love Internet sharing sites, you actually have no control over them. If the company were to go out of business, or if their servers were to crash, you could lose all of your lose data without any warning. If you really want to keep photos on a secure site that you can share with your family, try iMemories.com. Not only do they have great servers with outstanding redundant backup capability, but they can even put your photos on DVD for you, providing an extra layer of safety.
5. Safely Storing Photo Prints
Now that your digital photos are safe and sound, what about your print photos? Do they need to be archived too? Then take a minute or two while you’re thinking about it and read our post or download our PDF on How to Archive Your Print Photos.
If your print photos are already in order here are a few ideas to safeguard them. Try placing them in:
In a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
In a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
In your watertight Plastic Evacuation Bin. Only place the photos that you actually need to have with you, in this bin. If you’ll also have access to copies of photos in your safe deposit box, then don’t take any copies with you that you would worry about, if lost.
If you live in a location with frequent disasters, like hurricane or tornado country, you should probably consider a permanent solution to safeguard your photo prints, like putting your photos in acid free boxes inside a watertight Rubbermaid Roughneck bin, or glass containers, and then placing them at least a foot or two off the ground, whenever your cherished photos might be in danger. For example an impending hurricane, flooding or even the arrival of tiny, curious grandchildren. If you are in a location where flooding can occur, store your photos in the driest place, at least a foot or two above any previous water marks.
Depending on the situation it might even be a good idea to move those bins to a storage space or to a friend’s or relative’s home for safekeeping until the situation passes.
Want to download these instructions for later? Click Here to download the PDF version.
Or if you’re ready to get EVERY area of your life straightened up, grab a copy of our book Ready.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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