Backing up Your Photographs


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since today’s photography topic is a bit dry, although HIGHLY important, I wanted to started off by saying how much we love you as our reader! Burlington VT Moms Blog launched last September and has since then had over 155 posts by our talented writers and over 1,100 comments from our fabulous readers! Thank you!!  Thank you. 🙂

Here is some calorie-free Valentines love for you.


Now down to business.

Back in the heyday of the film camera, a family only had one set of physical negatives from a given life event. They could print numerous pictures from any single negative, but those strips of transparent cellophane-like chemical media were a one of a kind and irreplaceable. Most people would store them in binders or books and keep them in a safe dry spot. Others kept them with the printed versions of the pictures in the paper envelopes and stored them in cardboard boxes in the attic. 🙂

Borrowed from
Borrowed from

All in all, not much thought was given to the fragility of only having one set of these negatives because the likelihood of them being destroyed was left to major disasters like fire and flood. I am not saying those disasters did not occur, but they were less likely to occur than say a computer crash.

computer crash comic


Our world is very much digital now and many of our photo memories are on our computers or cell phones. Where we used to print photos and make scrapbooks we are creating online albums and digital slideshows to share with family and friends. Generally computers and other such devices are easy to use, accessible and reliable. However, not only  can these devices get washed away in a flood, burnt up in a fire, or lost, but they can also just up and die taking with it anything that we have been storing on it. Maybe I’m overreacting? Maybe I am getting a few knowing nods from people reading this post? Maybe you have heard it happen to someone else and don’t believe it could happen to you? It’s a terrible predicament to be in and an awful feeling wondering if all of your family photos that you meant to print from the past 5 years are gone for good. Talk about lost sleep! Luckily there are pretty decent recovery systems out there that can get most if not all files back after a crash, but what if you didn’t have to worry about that at all because you were prepared? Today we are going to go over the options that are out there for backing up your photographs.

There are many options out there for backing images and other files up. I have gathered some sources and broken things down into two categories: Physical In-Home Back-Up Options and Online Offsite Back-Up Options. Everything shared here is just my opinion and knowledge. Before committing to any back-up system  definitely do your own in-depth research. 🙂

Physical In-Home Back-Up Options

CD’s and DVD’s are a good option for backing up batches of images or specific events. You can invest in archival varieties or stick with normal versions. Keep your CD’s and DVD’s safe in protective sleeves like this book. Keep in mind though that some new computers are coming out without disc drives. CDs/DVDs could become obsolete like floppy discs. Remember those?

External hard drives have come a long way in cost and sleekness. What used to be an expensive boxy addition to your desk is now a sleek moderately priced pocket-sized case. I am most familiar with Western Digital hard drives. Sizes vary from 100 gigabytes to upwards of 1 terabyte  (which equals 1000 GB). 100 GB can store about 20,000 photos, 1 TB can hold about 200,000 photos. 🙂

If you wanted to get really fancy,  you might consider looking into a Drobo or other RAID style system. These systems are on a professional level typically and used mainly by those who have a lot of data that needs protecting and keeping track of.

All of these back-up options are safe from computer crashes, but not safe from other home disasters. You might consider combining methods and storing one set of back-ups offsite either at a family members home, your office, or a safe deposit box. A fire/water proof safe is also a good option for in your home. Don’t let this overwhelm you though and don’t lose sleep over it. Remember, for many years we survived with one set of negatives. 🙂 And we probably kept them in fairly deplorable conditions! 🙂



Online Offsite Back-Up Options

Picasa: Offered through Google. Up to 1 GB free (about 100-200 photos depending on size). Upgraded space payment plans available after 1GB. Easy upload interface, but inability to download full albums at a time.

Dropbox:  2-18 GB Free with additional paid plan upgrades available. Any files (images, documents, videos) can be stored here and accessed anywhere with internet access. You can also share folders with people. A good method for sending large files. 🙂

Flickr: 300 MB per month of compressed uploads. Resets to O at the beginning of each month. Has some interesting organization methods in that it only displays your most recent 200 photos.  Upgrade to a Pro account for unlimited storage and ability to upload hi-res images.

Winkflash: Unlimited storage of hi-res images with ability to re-download hi-res images. Decent organization of image folders with the ability to share images and order consumer level** prints and products.

Shutterfly: Unlimited storage of hi-res images, however you can only download lo-res images. To get hi-res files back you must order a CD of your images. Ability to share folders and set privacy settings. Also able to purchase consumer level** prints and products. Not a recommended avenue for avid digital photographers.

Snapfish: Unlimited storage and ability to upload and download hi-res images. Ability to share folders and set privacy settings. Also able to purchase consumer level** prints and products. Must make one purchase a year in order to keep account open.

Facebook: Free storage of low-resolution images. My least favorite option because you can upload a hi-res file, but FB resizes it to their standards and renames it, so when you download it again it is not the same file you uploaded. Plus, all of your “friends” see all of your photos.

**Consumer level prints and products refer to prints and products that are created using non-archival materials that are available at a lower cost. Print color balance may differ between different consumer level companies.

The next two options are popular cloud storage companies that you can set-up to search your computer for new images and documents to back-up automatically.

CrashPlan+$2.99/month for up to 10 GB, $5.99/month for unlimited, also offer a Family Unlimited plan for multiple computers.

Carbonite: $59/ year for unlimited back-up. Also offer multiple computer back-up systems.

You can browse an in-depth review of all online back-up services here.

The best method is to combine back-up options. Perhaps have a hard drive that hooks up via USB to your computer for drag and drop back-ups and then upload them to an off-site cloud storage. So long as you at least have one back-up to your computer, you should not lose sleep over it. 🙂

comic, guy loving computer


Do you back-up your family photos and files at home or off-site? If so, please share your method in the comments section below. I am sure there are other great ideas and tips out there! Be Well & Smile Often, Kathleen



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