Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Backing up photos

I am sitting at my computer trying to back up photos (1999 to 2006) off an old external hard drive.

It is a messy process.

If you want to keep memories alive, it is extremely important to back up photos.

Here is my current system (I wish I had done it all along!)

First - every time you are ready to empty a digital camera card first BURN A COPY OF THE FILES! This is just like those old packets of negatives we (meaning older folks like me who remember negatives) used to keep in drawers. It will give you a pristine copy of each photo file just in case you do something terrible to mess up the copy on your computer. DVDs are not that expensive and this is worth the effort. It is what professional photographers do. My 4 GB card works perfectly since it fits on one DVD. If I have a smaller card, I burn on a CD or stockpile the files in a carefully labeled folder on my computer until there are enough to justify burning on a DVD.

Second - I assume you transfer all of your photos and store them somewhere on your computer for editing and sharing. This can be done in various programs (Picasa, iPhoto, Adobe bridge). Since you have a nice back up copy of every photo burned on DVD, you don't need to keep all 12 shots of grandma body surfing. Just pick the best and delete the rest (remember, you have them safely backed up). This slims down the folders of photos stored on your computer.

- Occasionally back up the photo files stored on your computer. Hopefully they will be the best of the best nicely labeled, dated, and organized. You can burn them unto a DVD or copy to an external hard drive. Yes I know - you already burned the photos right off the memory card. But the ones on your computer are organized and edited. It is worth making this second copy. There are huge capacity affordable USB hard drives available now that are tiny and portable. I actually do both - burn to DVD and transfer to an external hard drive (I love my photos so much). After this is done, you can delete the files off your computer when it fills up.

Of course, you need to carefully label and safely store those DVDs so you can access them when needed.

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