Ultimate Guide to Safeguard & Backup Digital Photos
This has happened to me and can happen to you as well; I returned from a wonderful trip and, in a hurry, downloaded the photos into a folder that I later deleted by accident. Imagine the anger, the angry face and the despair. Even though I realized there must be a solution to get back the photos which were deleted, for some minutes, I stood there thinking that the memories of a wonderful trip to Italy have been lost and I won’t be able to watch them later.
The biggest mistake I did was not to follow a simple rule, i.e to safeguard all my photos immediately as I take them, or at the end of the day. If I have had that discipline, probably I wouldn’t have lost them. That’s why, it is better to prevent something than later to have to deal with the consequences. If you don’t protect your photos before they get lost or deleted, you will have to face the issue of recovering deleted files, if that’s the case, and, you’ll have to pay for this luxury, too.
Table of Contents
Traditional Methods to Save Photos
Some of you must already be using these methods to safeguard your digital photos, by storing them in external devices like portable hard disks or DVDs. However, you should be very careful and not rely only on this method, because we all know how quick an electronic device can be broken; specially a small piece like a CD or memory card.
This is considered to be the most accessible solution for storing your photos, but, you have to be very diligent in doing it. You have to put a little work and engrave all the new photos that you have. Expect to pay around $0.30 – $2.00 for a DVD. CDs don’t have that big amount of space, so use them only if you are out of solutions. Also, you should be very careful where you store your CDs and DVDs, because they can be very easy broken and are highly inflammable.
Hard Disks (HDDs)
A hard disk drive is a much more robust solution for your digital photos and obviously, has a much bigger space. This solution is more suitable for professional photographers that take pictures at big resolutions. A regular CD or DVD would offer just too little space for special needs. On the other hand, hard disk drives are heavy comparing with other solutions and carrying them around is not the best idea. Also, they are very vulnerable to shocks and, they are getting obsolete after some thousands full engraving cycles. But, instead of 0 solutions, 1 solution with a hard disk drive is still a viable one. I use a hard disk drive both for storing movies that I love and, when I don’t forget, to store my favorite digital photos. Just try and make a habit out of this and you will manage to move your digital photos inside the special drive made for them.
Memory Cards, USB flash drives
This solution is probably the most “portable” one. While memory cards are only a temporary storing and safeguarding solution, you can use the USB flash drive to move thousands of digital photos and later store them in CDs, DVDs, HDDs or using cloud computing. This isn’t literally a solution for safeguarding your digital photos, but, when you don’t have any CDs and DVDs that could come in handy, it’s good to have your digital photos not only inside your computer, but also in your memory card, if it’s available, and, for a short period, inside your USB flash drive.
For many, this is one of the safest solutions to keep their digital photos safe, but, it isn’t that cheap. It’s also not that easy to print thousands of pictures. If you want a good quality that could equal the digital resolution, you will end up paying considerable amounts to have your memories near you, in physical shape. This method is very good for those pictures that are your favorites. So, if there are some photos that you value the most, don’t waste time and make a good selection, then rush to the nearest photo shop and have them all printed. It’s an one time investment that will bring the smile on your face for many years to come.
We mentioned some traditional, classical methods for the folks out there that don’t feel it’s time to allow technology to get that far inside our lives. But, we’ll all have to agree that a digital image doesn’t get soaked, its quality remains the same over the years and you can even do some tricks to it (apply some photoshop tricks and after 20 years, your nephews will think you had the muscles of Schwartzenegger). All the above solutions are vulnerable, what happens if, God forbid, there is a tornado or earthquake in your town or village? How will you recover all your precious photos with memories that basically represent your life? That’s why you need the power of cloud computing and online storage for rescue.
Free Online Storage Solutions For Your Digital Photos
Protection costs, and, if you don’t have the money right now or you don’t feel it’s right to pay such big amounts just to stores some pictures, there are always solutions. Of course, it involves a little hassle from your end, that’s the disadvantage: if you want free online backup solutions, you will have to use multiple services and be sure you don’t forget the passwords!
1. SkyDrive – 25 Free GB For The Loyal Windows User
Do you have a Windows Live account? Do you know that the folks at Microsoft have prepared 25 GB of free storage for your personal use with file limits up to 100 MB. What’s even nicer, it use the cloud storage, which means the folders are always synchronized. Upload the digital photos from your personal computer, access them when you are at your friend. Did you move to a new place? No worries, the power of cloud works everywhere and keeps your photos on the go!
2. iCloud – 5 Free GB For Each Account
The recent launch of iPhone 4S has put under the spotlight another great product from Apple – iCloud. Announced by the regretted Steve Jobs at the end of May, iCloud does exactly what the name suggests – stores your files on the cloud and gives you 5 free starting GB for you to start. If you love both Microsoft and Apple, then, so far, you have already 30 free GB of storage.
Yes, Amazon has joined the cloud party as well. 5 more GB if you really want to save some money. As Amazon’s official presentation goes, 5 GB are enough to assure you host almost 2,000 photos, which means the regular photo taken should have around 2.5 MB. You can access your Amazon account from 8 different devices, be it computers, smartphones or browsers. So far, if you are an online surfer, you won’t have to trouble too much, because, probably, you already have an Apple product, use a Microsoft service or have bought something from Amazon.
4. ShutterFly – Unlimited Storage!
No, I am not joking. This is indeed a free service with unlimited storage (after all, how many pictures do you have?). How do they make money, you will ask? It seems that there is the option of printing the pictures (by the way, if you’re from USA, you get 50 free prints) and also the PRO option for gallery. But, if you only want to store your pictures, why not use this great unlimited storage solutions for your photos?
If unlimited storage is not enough, maybe you need 5 more giga bytes? The veteran service in online storage, Box.net puts for you 5 free GB if you really don’t like some alternatives enlisted here that can save you from all the hassle. You can later upgrade, but you will have to pay some cash for that pleasure. Box is also cloud, which means your files are 100% and accessible from everywhere.
These guys offer you 10 GB free just for your files, irrespective of their type. As you can see, they offer other products, as well, so this could be a move to lure customers into other products. But, you know what you’re looking for – free space. Therefore, go there, grab your free candy and save your digital photos.
PicBackMan is not, per se, a program like the previous ones, it doesn’t have its own storage space for your files, it has a different purpose. It’s a program for Windows users that allows them to backup images to several cloud hosting services or services just like the above mentioned or Flickr/Facebook; websites that do not offer automatic file synchronization.
You have to be careful though, when using multiple services. Don’t rely only on a single service, especially if it’s free. You can’t never know when they go bankrupt!
Online Galleries: Facebook, Picasa
You didn’t actually think about it, did you? Use the Facebook account to upload as many photos as you need! You are afraid that your private life will be too exposed? Then why not create an anonymous account, don’t send any friend requests at all and don’t accept any. Use Facebook smart – fill their servers with your photos!
Obviously, you can do the same thing with Picasa if you think creating a Facebook account anonymously isn’t that great. Be smart and combine Facebook with Picasa, if you feel that Facebook is way too commercial. And I am sure that with the above free solutions you will be able to safely store your pictures. Of course, with Facebook and Picasa and other online galleries it gets tricky, because if your account gets hacked, your photos could be compromised. For those who fear that, we will enlist paid programs, as well, in the list below.
Premium Services to Safeguard Your Digital Photos
The main advantages with a paid service is that you have support from their team, if, something bad happens. We have reason to believe that the servers where they host the paid subscription files are more secured than the free ones. If you indeed decide to stick with the above free solutions, be sure to read the Terms and Conditions for unpleasant events. You can also upgrade from the initial plan of some of the above products and benefit from secured cloud storage at affordable prices.
- Dropbox: 50 GB at $9.99/month; 100 GB at $19.99/month
- Box: 25 GB at $9.99/month; 50 GB at $19.99/month
- SugarSync: 30 GB $4.99/month, 60 GB $9.99month, 100 GB $14.99/month
- ADrive: 50GB $6.95/month, 100GB: $13.95/month
- RackSpace: 15¢/GB, + the bandwidth costs
- ZumoDrive 25 GB $6.99/ month, 50 GB at $9.99/month; 100 GB at $19.99/month
- ElephantDrive: $25 per user, unlimited storage
In the end, it all comes down to what you’re searching for – an immediate solution but safe and sure that you’ll bet your money on or multiple services that can help you save the money but benefit from protection and security in the same time. Be wise and make the right choice so that in your next trip you will be sure that your photos don’t get lost!
Image courtesy: fanboy.com