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Friday, February 4, 2011

Preserving Your Digital Photo Files

By Nita Davis

Unlike printed photographs your digital photographs will not fade with time so that is one less worry. Digital photographs have the potential to last for hundreds of years. However, if the only place you have your digital photos stored is on your computers hard drive you run the risk of loosing all your precious photographs to any number of mishaps not to mention changing technology. 

Thankfully there are a number of methods for backing up your digital files. You can back up your files to an external hard drive; another computer; an on-line storage provider, or create back up CD's or DVD's.  I recommend using at least two methods to back up your photographs, that way if something happens to one you still have the other. Personally I like backing mine up to an external hard drive and creating backup DVD's. Some people like to back up there photos to a flash drive, that way they can take their photos wherever they go. However, using a flash drive should not be your only method of back up as they are much easier to misplace or loose than an external hard drive. If you opt for using CD's or DVD's it is best to pay a little more and purchase high quality CD's and DVD's as the less expensive ones do not last as long.  Because technology changes it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with new technology so that you can make the transition and migrate your images to the newer storage methods that come available.

You can manually back up files by copying the files or file folders to the drive of your choice. Or, there are a number of options available to simplify the back up process. If you are using Windows XP or Vista you can set it up to automatically back up selected files or folders to another drive on a schedule. Another option is to purchase software designed specifically for doing routine data back up such as Home Genie Backup Manager or Backup Now 5 .

If you are opting for on-line storage you may want to take a look at Kevin Eklund's  "Ultimate Review List of Best Free Online Storage and Backup Application Services" The main thing I would suggest is to make sure that you are able to store the full resolution file and the file is not compressed when stored and also, that you are not authorizing the storage facility to use or distribute your images. These two problems are ones that seem to exist with some of the FREE online photo storage sites such as Photobucket.

To me the most important thing is to develop a routine for backing up your photographic files and that you use at least two or more back up methods. Generally I store my photos on both my laptop and my desktop then I back them up to the external hard drive once a month and every three months create DVD's of the files that have not yet been transferred to DVD. To make it easier for me to know what files need to be backed up and to find photos quicker, when uploading my photos to my computer I delete images that I do not want to keep and the ones I do want to keep I organize by year, month and event.

In short preserving your digital image files isn't difficult, you just need to decide which storage methods will work best for you and organize your files so that you can develop your own routine for backing up your photographs.

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