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How to backup and safely store your photos

How do you backup your precious memories? A lot of clients tell me that they have photos stored on their computer hard drive as well as an external hard drive that's usually stored in the same room as the computer. But what if there's a flood/cyclone/fire or something happens to your house?

Something terrible happened to me this week. My hard drive died. It’s annoying, but for me it’s not the end of the world because all of my client work is backed up in three places. My personal work, however, is now only in the cloud 🙄 So here I sit not-so-patiently waiting to download almost 2TB of files wondering if I reeeeeeeaalllly needed to take so many photos 😆 (yes, the answer is yes).

I get it, the thought of backing up photos is overwhelming, but if you can take anything from my experience this week, let it be this: technology fails. Computers die. Clouds will delete your stuff if you don’t pay. Children will throw your external hard drive across the room and laugh (true story 🙈). And then think of how many photos you would lose in an instant.

How do you backup your precious memories? A lot of clients tell me that they have photos stored on their computer hard drive as well as an external hard drive that’s usually stored in the same room as the computer. But what if there’s a flood/cyclone/fire or something happens to your house?

Here’s how I backup and safely store my photos. I recommend backing up your photos in at least two different places, three is even better. Here are some options:

External Hard Drive:

  • Purchase an external hard drive with ample storage capacity (usually around 2TB).
  • Regularly transfer your photos to this device. You can do this manually or set up automated backups using software like Time Machine (for macOS) or File History (for Windows).
  • Keep this external drive in a secure location, preferably away from your primary devices to protect against physical damage or theft.
  • When it comes to hard drives, not all are created equal. For the most reliable, consider a Solid State Hard Drive, which are a little bit more expensive (ok, a lot more expensive) but will be worth it when your toddler decides to chuck it.

Cloud Storage Service:

  • Choose a reputable cloud storage service provider such as Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, or Amazon Drive.
  • While some offer a small amount of storage for free, it is likely there would be a subscription cost involved.
  • Upload your photos to the cloud using the service’s desktop or mobile app, or through their website.
  • Ensure your account is secure by using strong, unique passwords and enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible.
  • Some services offer automatic photo backup options from your mobile devices, which can streamline the process. This was a LIFESAVER when my phone took an unexpected swim in the ocean.

Offsite Backup:

  • Create a third backup copy of your photos stored offsite, away from your home or primary location.
  • You can use another external hard drive kept at a trusted friend’s or family member’s house.
  • Alternatively, you can subscribe to a cloud backup service specifically designed for offsite backups. These services typically offer secure data encryption and remote access to your files. One such platform is Backblaze, but there are more.
  • Periodically update this offsite backup to ensure it stays current with your latest photos.

Print your photos:

  • It might be ‘old school’ but having a tangible copy is priceless. Whether you store them in a photo album or a box in your kid’s bedrooms adding to it each year, actual prints are the best way to sit around as a family and flick through, telling stories about that day. When you think about it, isn’t that why we take the photo in the first place?
  • Another option I absolutely love is to make Photo Books – Milkbooks is my go-to for something special or Blurb if you want to include bulk photos.

Additional Tips:

  • While some of these options are ‘set and forget’, it’s important to test your backups periodically to ensure they’re working correctly and that you can recover your photos if needed.
  • Keep an eye on your storage usage, especially with cloud services, to avoid exceeding storage limits and incurring additional fees.
  • Finally, consider the longevity and reliability of the storage mediums you choose. Hard drives can fail over time, and cloud service providers may change their terms or go out of business, so it’s wise to periodically reassess and adjust your backup strategy accordingly.

Make sure all your photo-induced tears are happy ones 💕

We don’t always see the lasts coming,
life is busy, but the lasts just don’t wait.

Choose your own adventure

Choose your own adventure