During a recent conversation with some friends I was amazed to find out most of them do not back up their computer or phone. When I asked them what they prized most on their device the answer was their photographs. So how should you back up all those files? There isn't really one prefect solution to this problem as it depends on your personal circumstances. But here are some of the options open to you to back up your images.
External Hard Drive
Don't listen to anyone who suggests you use a USB stick or even burn some DVDs. Most of us have lots of files and as technology improves so the file size increases. You need a system which is going to be future proof, at least for the foreseeable future. You can now pick up a 2TB external drive quite economically which will allow you to save a huge number of image files and also HD or 4K video files. The very least you are going to need is one external drive. That way you can simply copy all your image or video files onto it. For a bit more security you can have a second external drive which mirrors the first. It's very unlikely that both drives will and your computer will all crash or become corrupted at the same time.
Solid State Drives are starting to become more popular, although they are more expensive. The advantage they have over other external drives is that they don't have any moving parts, which means they should be more resistant to wear and tear or knocks. External drives are great because they are portable and you don't need an internet connection. Just plug it in and away you go. Transfer speeds are fast via the USB port, so it doesn't take long to back up your files.
While an external drive will protect your photographs if your computer or phone crashes beyond repair, it won't be much good if you suffer a fire and everything is in one place. Consider keeping your external drive in a remote location or inside a fireproof container. If you have mirrored drives then keep one in a different location.
If you are serious about the photographs you take, you need to have some form of cloud storage. This is where you upload your files to an online service which stores them for you. This is good way to store your files because you don't have to worry about keeping drives at remote sites or the house burning down and losing everything. There are many different services out there where you can back up your files, from Amazon to Apple to Microsoft to Google to Dropbox and beyond. The beauty of these services is that you save your files to a folder on your computer and it is immediately uploaded to your cloud storage, providing you have an internet connection. Otherwise it will do so the next time you are connected. The other advantage these services have is that your files are accessible from anywhere in the world, you just need to log into your account.
The companies mentioned above offer a limited amount of free storage space, but there will come a time when you'll need more and probably have to pay. I subscribe to the Microsoft Office suite and as part of my subscription I get 1TB of free storage. Upload times will vary depending on your internet connection. When I first uploaded my files it took a week, 24 hours a day!
Don't put all your eggs in one basket, even when it comes to cloud storage. While the likes of Google or Amazon aren't likely to go under, other service providers have shut down their storage services leaving people with no back up files. I use an external drive which I mirror in the cloud, that way I'm pretty safe one way or the other.
I started using a digital camera in 2000. Since then I have amassed something in the region of 30,000 images. You can't just upload them into one single folder and hope that you will find your favourite photo of your holiday in Spain. Rename files as you save them and it is worth investing in some software to help sort your files. I will cover this in another article in the near future.
Back up your files, once they are gone they are gone forever!