Priceless memories: How to backup your digital photos

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Digital cameras have overtaken film cameras to become the predominant image recording device. However, although digital photography has many perks over film photography, digital images are still susceptible to damage and loss.

Unforeseen hazards such as theft, flood or fire can place these personal mementos at risk of being lost forever. Not sure how you can prevent this? Below are some suggestions on how you can backup your priceless photos and make these irreplaceable memories last a lifetime.

Make sure you have adequate backup procedures in place: prevent precious pictures from being lost

1. Physical storage mediums.

Camera users should avoid forming a habit of accumulating too much data in the camera's original storage device. And while digital images may be transferred to your computer, you should consider storing additional copies of the original files in external storage mediums such as external hard-drives, CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray Discs.

Like all physical storage, these copies can also be damaged and destroyed. Make sure you make multiple copies and have them stored at other locations than your home: trustworthy friends and family are one option although you could also hire a safe deposit box from a bank or security service firm.

Copy images onto discs: overcome the issue of loss and damage

2. Network storage

When you are storing photos at home, consider using a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. These are devices - accessed across your home network - on which you can save your files. NAS boxes can be more reliable than your notebook or desktop hard disk, and they can also be locked away, reducing the risk of theft. NAS units can be set up with multiple hard disks so that if one fails there is a copy of your valuable files (your photos for example) on the other disks. This technique - known as RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) - is a simple way to protect your data. You should combine NAS with automatic backup software and off-site storage of your backups.

Backup to the cloud: get easy access to gigabytes of storage by using a cloud storage system

3. Cloud storage.

Cloud storage is a clever buzzword for storing your files - such as your photos - on a service that you can access across the Internet. The organisations providing the services are responsible for ensuring the files are secure, safe and accessible. Examples of cloud service providers include Dropbox, and other competing companies such as Carbonite and Backblaze.

Cloud file storage providers often offer support for Android phones and tablets, iPhone and iPad (IOS), personal computers and even NAS backups. The cloud-based repository can alleviate the pain of creating physical backups and moving them off site, and storage is relatively inexpensive. Don't forget to factor into the cost the price of transferring your data across your Internet link.

NAS: network attached file servers that allows you to safely and reliably store data

4. Online photograph storage sites

Similar to cloud file storage there are a multitude of online photo storage sites to choose from. Consider the interface, storage limit, price and other additional features offered - such as photo manipulation to pick a site that suits you most. Popular choices include SmugMug and Flickr.

SmugMug offers basic accounts for a small fee with unlimited uploads in JPG, GIF or PNG up to 24MB in size. However, they also offer a storage service for an additional fee to store files of any size and any format. Flickr has lots of editing and customisation options available, but is better known for photo-sharing than as a storage site. A Pro account will let you and anyone you grant permission to access original uploaded files. But although Flickr Pro offers unlimited storage, it only supports JPEGs, non-animated GIFs and PNGs and uploads are capped at 20MB per photo.

Back it all up

Storing your digital photos on discs, with online storage providers, via a computer network or in the cloud are measures that will increase the protection of your personal mementos from damage and loss.

To ensure your photographs are safe, you should consider using these backup methods concurrently. For example, you could keep your photos on your computer automatically synchronised with a cloud service and do regular weekly or monthly backups to a DVD. This will ensure that your photos are safe from theft or destruction at home, and also secure in the very unlikely event that something happened to the online backup provider.

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