Whenever I talk to a new client, one of the first questions I ask is whether they have a backup plan for their photos. If they don’t, it will be the first thing we do. Why? Digital media is very prone to have failures. Here are a number of ways we can lose our photos:
Electricity spike fries hard drive or computer
We drop or phone, hard drive or laptop
Fires, floods and other natural disasters
Hard Drive Failure for no apparent reason
Corruption of individual files
Stolen phone, camera, computer
Here are examples of what files may look like once they have become corrupted. More likely though, you won’t be able to open the files at all.
This can happen and you won’t even know it. But it will happen inevitably if you keep your photos on one device for a long period of time. Unfortunately, it is not “if” it will happen, but when it will happen.
What can we do? Photo Organizers will tell our clients to subscribe to the 3-2-1 system to for your photo backup. 3 – Copies of our photos 2 – Different media they are copied to 1 – Copy of the photos offsite It sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
START WITH AN LOCAL BACKUP OF YOUR ENTIRE COMPUTER. The first things we will do is get an onsite backup of your ENTIRE COMPUTER. Don’t try to organize things first! Purchase an external hard drive (EHD) that is at least twice the size of your computer’s hard drive to dedicate to backups. You can find 2-4 TB Hard Drives locally from $50-$150. Setup a backup to run frequently to this external hard drive. For Macs you will use Time Machine and it will automatically want to set it up for backups. For PCs using Windows you can use File History or a program like Genie Timeline to setup your backup. Some EHD’s come with software installed to backup your computer. With that done you now have your photos in two different places- but not two different media.
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS – this is also a photo backup I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you PRINT your photos. Not all of them. Not all at once. This will help protect you from any sort of technical failure. In my personal collection I have had to re-scan photos from my albums that had become corrupt on my hard drive. I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I not printed them on the first place
ONE COPY OFFSITE The easiest way for us to do this is to store your data in the cloud through the internet. Yes, there are plenty of places we can safely store our photo backup. I recommend a backup service for your entire computer such as Backblaze. You can back up your computer and your EHDs with the service for about $50 a year. Other options include Carbonite and Mozy.
Another option for offsite storage is to periodically back up your information and put in a safe deposit box or keep at friend or family member’s home. This may not always work in a case of a natural disaster.
I always thought one of the advantages of living in the Midwest was the ability to take advantage of our inside time in the winter to work on inside projects without feeling guilty. One of my favorite activities is to finish up my yearly albums in January, although, I admit I am also behind!
Our photos don’t get in our way or remind us that they need to be taken care of. We don’t trip over them, or there isn’t a “maintenance light” to tell us it is time to spend some time organizing and sharing them. Unfortunately, it becomes important when there is an all too frequent technology problem that could put them all in jeopardy like the woman who posted her photos on Facebook featured in my Jan 10 Blog Post. Sometimes a water leak, flood or fire destroys our precious photos.
We need to make careful choices about where we store and backup our photos to help prevent these photo catastrophes. For digital photos, you need to start by saving them in one location and then making a backup. For your physical pictures, consider scanning your pictures into digital files as a backup.
ACTUAL FACEBOOK POST: ISO HELP??? 😢😓😫 90% of my photo albums are completely gone. Totally disappeared overnight!! This was the fifth report I’ve submitted to Facebook with absolutely no response!!! Those are the only copies of every picture I’ve taken from all my medical missions from 10 different countries. Please help me find them, I have no idea where they went and they are extremely important to me!!! 😢 😤 😡 😫😩😢😭😤😠😡🤬🤯😰😥😓 Who knows how I can submit this directly to Facebook to get an answer???😫😫😫
First, I have to say my heart goes out to the woman who wrote this. The tough lesson is that Facebook should never, ever be the primary storage for your photos. It’s fine to use Facebook to show pictures to your friends and family but please don’t make the mistake that this person did and rely on Facebook to store your pictures.
Facebook compresses pictures dramatically so they are unprintable
Facebook renames pictures to a string of unrecognizable letters and numbers
Facebook strips all metadata from the image. If you use Keyword, titles or captions and comments they will be lost.
Facebook strips date information from the file. Every digital picture automatically records date information and is often the easiest way to find a picture.
This is the original photo uploaded to Facebook.
Same Photo Downloaded from Facebook
Take a close look at the two graphics above. The top graphic is the original image uploaded to Facebook. The bottom graphic is what is downloaded from Facebook. The file is compressed from 2.29 MB to 80.8 KB, All identifying information about the picture has been obliterated, from the file name, to date taken to added keywords and camera information.
So even if the woman in the Facebook post were to recover her pictures to they wouldn’t resemble what she uploaded. She is relegated to thumbnail-sized pictures of her life.
Around 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each and every day. In order to keep a handle on storage space, files get compressed, image date is lost. Facebook even has an option to upload a high quality image. Unfortunately, you get the same tiny file on download.
What is the moral of the story? Share photos on Facebook, do not store your photos on Facebook. Also, do not consider your photo printing site such as Shutterfly or Walmart a place to store your pictures. If you want a cloud solution to storing and backing up your photos, consider iCloud if you have an iPhone, Dropbox, Google Photos or Drive, Amazon Prime Photos, OneDrive and Forever are also possible choices for all computer users. All have varying degrees of automation and ability to save your file information (metadata).
Are you the family curator of photos? Have you recently inherited a photo collection from a family member and you are not sure what to do with it? Forever might be the answer for you, especially if you are interested in sharing these photos with other family members now and in the future.
Forever is a complete memory keeping solution where people collect, curate and celebrate memories now and for generations to come. How does this work? On Forever you purchase storage space, you don’t rent it. You find your favorite photos, ones that you want to keep forever, upload them or digitize them to be uploaded to the Forever website. Here you and your family can manage the photos together, add information about the photos and organize them with Forever’s easy to use software.
Forever Storage prices start at $299 for 10 gigabytes of space. It seems expensive until you realize this is a one time fee! They will keep your images safe and migrate to different formats for you, to keep your memories safe.
Check out the Forever website for more information. You can sign up for a free 2 gigabyte account to learn how Forever works. Feel free to contact me for more information or a demonstration of the product.
If you have taken one of my classes or have had me come to your home to organize your digital photos, the first thing I always recommend doing is backing up your photos first. Yes, even before they are organized.
Sometimes the easiest way to handle this is by backing up your data on your entire computer.
The easiest way to start is to back up to an External Hard Drive. You can pick up one of these for as little as $50 at local retailers or online. Some brands to look for are LaCie, Silicon Power, Western Digital, ioSafe, and Monster Digital. It simply plus into a USB port on computer and you are ready to go.
On a Mac go to Time Machine to set up your backup. On Windows Computers you can go to File History to setup a regular backup.
Once that is done you are in pretty good shape. It is key to have a backup in case of a computer failure, which is the most frequent cause of data loss. However, this doesn’t prevent you from you losing your data in an event of a natural disaster (flood, fire, tornado, etc.) or theft.
Here is where we recommend a cloud or offsite backup. Check out these following services to backup your computer to the cloud.
They cost typically from $50-100 to backup your computer. Please take note that once you subscribe to their services the initial back up could take up to several weeks! They choose to upload slowly so it doesn’t use all of your internet bandwidth and slow your network down. Once the initial back up is done, these services automatically update your computer as files change. If you have a failure due to one of the problems listed above you can restore everything that is lost!
One you get those backups started, you won’t regret it!