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How to Back Up Your Photos

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How to Back Up Your Photos


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By Rachel LaCour Niesen

Storing your photos on hard drives is like storing your life savings under your mattress. Having hard drives stuck in your closet is just as risky as having printed photos shoved into boxes. In either scenario, you could lose thousands of irreplaceable photographs in minutes.

Data from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Seagate shows over 50 percent of adults have lost files or know someone who has lost files. Yet 25 percent never back up their files, and 72 percent ranked photos as their most valued digital assets.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll never lose another photo.

1. Automate your photo back up process – a smart photo backup plan is automated. The good news is, almost any backup process can be automated. For example, you can organize photos on your hard drive, and then sync them with Google Photos, Amazon or Dropbox. Then you could use Backblaze to back up your Dropbox folder from your computer. Regardless of which service you choose, make sure it can make at least one automatic backup, with no manual effort on your part. 

Here are three services that our team of professional photo managers recommend to our clients:

— Apple Photos keeps a copy of your photos on your local hard drive and another in Apple’s cloud, but you need Apple devices to take advantage of it.

— Google Photos is great for any platform: Android or iOS, Windows or Mac.

— Backblaze makes a backup of every file on your computer, including your photo library, and stores them in the cloud.

Rely on experts – a smart photo backup plan includes professional expertise. No matter how tech savvy you are, sometimes it’s smart to get professional help. Cloud storage providers like Google, Amazon, Dropbox, and Backblaze are data management pros. Just as you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself, you shouldn’t tackle storage by yourself. Don’t risk your family’s visual legacy! Cloud service providers keep your data safer than you could alone. Since cloud storage companies regularly upgrade their storage and hardware to keep their infrastructure current, you can rest assured that your photos are protected. That said, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Choose two reputable cloud storage providers, and upload your photos to each of them routinely.

Be Redundant – a good photo backup plan emphasizes redundancy. Having multiple copies of your photo library is the best safeguard against disaster. Every type of media fails over time. Whether your photographs are stored on flash drives, solid state drives, standard hard drives, or optical disks, you’re putting your irreplaceable memories at risk. The question is not if your hard drive will fail or become obsolete, the question is when. So how can you best protect your photos from failures and changes in technology? Turn to one of the most trusted institutions in the world: the Library of Congress. By following the best practices established by the Library of Congress, you can rest assured that your photographs will be safely stored for generations to come. The Library of Congress recommends having five copies of your files. That’s right, five! Even if you can only manage three redundant copies, you’ll be better protected against data loss.

If all this sounds like overkill, just remember — these are your memories we’re talking about. After all, photographs are more than snapshots. They are assets that capture moments and milestones. They tell your life story. And your life story is worth protecting.

About the author: Rachel LaCour Niesen is the co-founder of Reminis, a photo and media digitizing studio based in Decatur. Along with her team of professional curators, Rachel is deeply committed to preserving family legacy. Reminis digitizes every client’s memories by hand, using archival best practices.