Protecting Your Images for the Future

I have been thinking about, no more accurately stated, I have been obsessing about how to best protect my digital images.   My printed family photos are housed in boxes and in albums, with the hope that they would survive the years to come. Michelle’s post, however, on scanning old photos into a digital files has encouraged me to act.  But I am still left with the question of how to protect my newly scanned and other digital images for the future?  I decided to take the plunge and do a little research and share the results.

Upload to the cloud:  There are many options available for both professional and consumer photographers, as this article highlights.  I personally use SmugMug to showcase my photos, and I use Dropbox to share photos, but haven’t used it as my primary storage place, since I have over 30,000 photos.  As the article shares, there are some new resources that are lower cost than SmugMug that are worth exploring, such as Apple’s iCloud Photo Library and Google+.



Use external hard drives: If you don’t want to just trust the cloud, you can use external hard drives to back up your photos.  There are some interesting hard drive choices that give you access to your photos and files from anywhere using apps.  Western Digital My Cloud and Seagate Personal Cloud are two fairly reasonably priced options to explore. There are other benefits, such as streaming to your television, that are worth looking into if that is important to you.

Wall Street Journal

From the Wall Street Journal

Back up all drives:  So far I haven’t lost any images to a failed computer or external hard drive, but it can happen.  I back up my computer both in the cloud and on an external hard drive, but since I store most of my photos on smaller external hard drives to minimize the impact on my computer, I am always looking for better solutions.

I felt like I hit pay dirt when I came across a review in the Wall Street Journal about how to back up your digital life…and make your own cloud.  Geoffrey A. Fowler compared four cloud services that ranged from $50-$80 per year:  Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan, and SOS Online Backup.

From the Wall Street Journal

Review From the Wall Street Journal

I currently use Carbonite, but my current plan only backs up my computer and not my hard drives, hence my anxiety.  They charge quite a bit more to include the external hard drives, so I haven’t moved forward with a new plan.  After reading the article I am going to explore Blackblaze and CrashPlan, as it appears that they have better options.

Print your photos:  For those really precious photos of family, trips, or other life moments that you want to be sure you remember, print them.  Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the internet, stated in an interview with the BBC, that printing is the only way you can protect your images for the future.  He worries about software rot, as technology changes.  I believe his concern is mostly directed at academics and large institutions, but it is worth noting.  The bottom line is print what you can, and back up and update regularly.

Print books and photos

Print books and photos

Let us know what strategies work best for you by commenting below, posting on our Facebook page, or sending us an email at  We love to hear from you.  Grab your camera and go out Camera Walking to capture wonderful images that you can protect for the future.





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