5 Steps to Protecting Your Photos
While the Internet is abuzz over who stole Jennifer Lawrence’s private online photos, now would be a good time for us all to think about how we can best protect our own pictures.
No, not from hackers. Because nobody wants to see YOU naked.
No, you need to protect your photos from oblivion.
I was visiting a computer repair shop to hear the suspected diagnosis on my desktop PC.
“Your hard drive crashed. Hope you backed it up.”
A brief moment of panic before I remembered that, yes, in fact, I did have a complete backup of my data files.
The computer guy told me, “You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to break that news to people and then watch them break down crying because they just lost five years of baby pictures.”
Sometimes you can recover some of that crashed data, but most of the time it’s gone.
So, my photo backup paranoia only grew deeper, and I developed these simple steps to protecting your photos from oblivion.
First of all, get them off your camera. I mean, really, it’s not a storage device. If the memory card in your camera has 15,000 pictures on it, and you’ve never uploaded them to any other device, then you’re really making a gamble.
Okay, once the photo files are uploaded to your computer, you’ve made the first step on the road to full photo protection.
But you’re not there yet.
So, now you have 15,000 pictures on the hard drive of your laptop. This is great. At least here you can enjoy them. You can crop, zoom, filter, and retouch them. You can post them to Facebook or Instagram or wherever the kids are socializing these days.
But you still have reason to worry.
Your next step is to back them up onto an external hard drive. Or a thumb drive.
I recommend doing both.
Carry that external drive to every other computer in your house, plug it in, and upload your photos to each one.
Now you have multiple back-ups in your house.
Ah, but there’s the problem. What happens if your house burns down?
Horrible to think about, but you can always rebuild your house. You can’t re-take your precious photos.
So, your fourth step is to back-up your pictures to online storage.
Flickr is a great free site for your online photos. They give you 1TB of storage, which is plenty for most people. Flickr will store your pictures at full resolution, and you have quick and easy access to view and download them through both your computer and your smartphone.
Go ahead and begin the process of uploading those 15,000 files to Flickr. It’s going to take awhile, but be patient. It took me about two weeks, at just a few hours each night, to transfer that amount over.
If you’re well and truly paranoid about your photos, like I am, you’ll want to repeat this whole thing with another online storage site.
Because, while Flickr is awesome, I’m not so sure about their parent company, Yahoo! What if Marissa Meyer is visiting the Flickr offices and touches something she’s not supposed to, and BOOM, there go all your precious memories!
So, to continue with this fourth step, upload your photos AGAIN to another online storage site.
I recommend Dropbox.
Dropbox is going to cost you $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage. Or, you can pay $99 all at once for the full year and save $20.
Unlike Flickr, you can store anything at Dropbox. Documents, spreadsheets, photos, music, long videos (Flickr has a 3-minute limit on those). Dropbox installation is a breeze on your computer, where it sets up a folder that you simply drop files into. Then, with no more effort from you, everything backs up to the Dropbox cloud AND syncs with any other devices on which you have it installed.
Don’t like Dropbox? Try Google Storage. Same price, same type of set-up. Not quite as user friendly as Dropbox, but that might just be me.
There are other online storage solutions, but these are the ones I’ve tried. Flickr, Dropbox, and Google.
Pick three if you really want to, but that might just be crazy.
Either way, you are ALMOST done with the steps to fully protecting your photos. Soon you will be able to rest easy at night, knowing that all those pictures you took of your food and your cats and yourself in the bathroom mirror will be around for all of eternity.
There’s just one last step.
Remember that external hard drive, or thumb drive, from Step Two?
Go get another one.
Make a copy of the first one.
Put it in a box, seal it up, put your name on it, and then store it somewhere away from your house. Preferably at the home of a trusted friend or relative.
Or even a safety deposit box at the bank!
This is, if you are truly paranoid about protecting your photos, the final step of making sure you don’t someday find yourself standing at the counter of the computer repair shop bawling your eyes out because you just found out that a lifetime of digital memories has been relegated to oblivion.
Okay, so maybe you’re not as paranoid as me.
The trick to protecting your photos doesn’t have to be quite so complicated. If you do at least two of the above steps, you should be okay. Three steps, and I think your pictures will be fine.
Do all five, and I salute you! Your pictures will survive until the end of time.