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Digital Photography Backup is Easy, Inexpensive and Can Save Your Photos
Digital photos are a way to record the important moment of life, whether it's a fun day at the beach, a high school graduation, or a birthday celebration. But what if your hard drive crashed and you lost all those precious images? Don't take the chance. Digital photography backup is easy, inexpensive and could save you a lot of time and headache.
Save the Important Images from Your Life
My Personal Experience
I know from experience how important it is to back up your photos. My desktop computer crashed earlier this year with over 15,000 photos on it - photos of my daughter's birth, my son's kindergarten graduation, weddings, birthdays, visits with friends and relatives I hadn't seen in years, and lots of everday photos of my family.
Fortunately, I had everything backed up. But I hadn't been consistent in how or where I backed up my images. I had all of them on either a backup external hard drive, CDs, DVDs, Shutterfly or Flickr, but I didn't have all of them in one place, so restoring everything to my new computer involved uploading images from multiple CDs, ordering archive CDs from both the online sharing sites I use and copying them from the external hard drive (which was damaged when I dropped it on the floor, making it impossible to get everything from one source).
What I learned from this experience is simple - be consistent in your backup and don't rely on a single method to preserve your photos.
My Favorite Method: Online Photo Sharing
One of the easiest ways to backup your photos is to save them online with a free photo sharing site. The best thing about this method is it also allows you to share your photos with your friends and family. In addition, your photos are stored away from your home and computer, so it's unlikely that any event that might destroy your computer would destroy the remote servers safeguarding your photos somewhere else.
The downside to online backup is that if you ever need to recover your photos, you'll probably have to pay a fee to get them. Also, if you haven't chosen the right service, you might not be able to recover your images in full resolution or you might discover your images have been dropped from their service if you haven't made a purchase from the site recently.
Snapfish and Kodak Gallery, for instance, require you to make purchase at least once a year to keep your account active, and Flickr and Photobucket limit the resolution of images in free accounts to 1024x768. So if you uploaded a higher resolution image, you may not be able to get it. (This doesn't apply to premium accounts.)
I like Shutterfly because they don't require you to make a purchase every year, keep your images in their original resolution, and make it incredibly easy to buy an archive CD with all the photos in your account.
Another Good Choice: Burn to CD or DVDs
Another easy option for backing up your digital photos is burning everything to CD or DVD. The advantage to this method is it's quick, easy, and inexpensive. If your computer has a CD or DVD burner, you simply need to copy all your photos to disc. Since the discs aren't part of your computer, you don't have to worry about electric surges, power failures or system crashes, and if you were ever burglarized, the thief probably would probably opt for expensive electronic equipment over CDs or DVDs you had burned yourself.
The only really downside to this method is that you can't automate the process, and if your backup photo discs and your computer are both in your home and it's hit by a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or fire, both your computer and backup discs are likely to be destroyed together.
But when coupled with online photo backup, this is an inexpensive and easy way to make sure your photos are safe.
External Hard Drives
Safeguard Your Entire Computer: External Hard Drives and Online Storage
Another option for backing up your digital photos is to save everything to an external hard drive or online storage service. The advantage to this method is that you can also save the entire contents of your computer and automate the process, so you never need to worry about saving your files. Most external drives and online services come with programs that will save the entire contents of your computer or just the folders you specify. You set the program once and then forget about it.
One downside to this digital photography backup method is you'll have to buy the external hard drive upfront or pay a small monthly a fee to use an online service. But either option is reasonably priced. A good backup drive is less than $100, and a service like Mozy with unlimited storage usually costs about $5/month. This may not sound as good as the "free" photo sharing sites, but you get more storage, can save all kinds of files, and you may end up saving money over what you'd have to pay to purchase archive CDs from your photo sharing site.
Another less obvious downside to using only an external drive as your sole method of digital photography backup is that an external drive could be subject to the same tragedy as the hard drive in your main computer. If, for instance, thieves break into your house, it would be easy to take a small drive, or if your power surge protector fails and fries your computer, an external drive on the same power strip could also be damaged.
Even so, an external hard drive makes sense if you have a lot of other files you want to preserve and if you like the simplicity of an automated system to protect your files. When used in conjunction with one or both of those digital photography backup options, it provides the most coverage for your photos and the other content on your computer with the least effort on your part.
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