Congratulations on going digital and getting rid of a lot of clutter in the process! Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to storage. Some people still create photo albums from digital files. While that’s nice, it doesn’t address how to store digital photo files or the issue of computer/smartphone memory and failed hard drives. Most PC computers come with 100+GB, which equates to 50,000 images. Although you may be under the impression that uploading images to Facebook is a viable storage method, keep in mind that they’re downsized in resolution and/or digitally compressed. You should consider ancillary storage options or a combination of services and solutions to safely store and backup your digital photos. These are the current options:
- USB/flash/thumb drives
- SD cards
- External hard drive
- Cloud photo storage
USB drives: Also known as flash or thumb drives, these gadgets are portable, lightweight, compact, fast and available in a large range of capacities. USB flash drives can endure 10,000 to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on their memory technology. On the flip side, they’re easy to lose, some computers don’t have USB ports, and they aren’t intended for long-term storage.
DVDs: This type of storage media is fairly portable and doesn’t take up too much room with the right organization tools. You can store 4,700 1MB photos on one DVD, which is pretty awesome. The cons are that you need a DVD player or a computer with a DVD port and they can get scratched easily on the backside.
SD cards: The small cards used in digital cameras are also a type of storage medium available in different capacities. Like USB drives, they aren’t designed for long-term storage, although under proper conditions, they can last 10 years. But, they’re quite small, can easily get lost, and are more delicate and vulnerable to damage than USB drives, especially with frequent use.
External hard drives: Ranging in size and price from $50 (1–2TB) to $350 and higher (8TB), these hard drives typically connect via a USB connection. There are many ways to transfer, copy, or sync your photos. You can also automate your backup using your computer’s operating system, the external hard drive’s software, or a third-party backup software app or service.
Storing Photos in the Cloud
Storing photos online eliminates worrying about damage, loss, or failure of a physical storage device. Furthermore, you can expand the cloud storage space with a range of packages and price points. Saving scanned images to Amazon, Dropbox, Google, or Flickr cloud storage platforms ensures that they’re safe forever and accessible anytime, anywhere, and from any device. An important perk is that they offer automatic backups, eliminating the need to back up photos online manually. The primary drawback is that you need internet access in order to upload and access your photos.
Once you’ve decided to use cloud storage, you’ll need to do some research to determine the best online photo storage for your needs. Here’s a short guide on four of the most popular cloud platforms.
Amazon Photos: Prime members receive unlimited photo storage with membership. Amazon Photos can be installed on mobile devices, making it ideal if you want to edit photos on a tablet or your smartphone.
Dropbox: This popular cloud storage option is easy to use and integrate it into your computer’s storage options. It is free up to 2GB, which won’t get you too far, especially with high-resolution photos.
Google Photos: This cloud platform offers unlimited storage for high-resolution photos up to 16-megapixel in size, and videos up to 1080p. While Drive comes with 15GB of free storage, this is shared by other Google apps like Gmail, so you may need to pay for additional space. If you have an android smartphone, this app is likely pre-installed.
Flickr: Designed originally for professional photographers, this visually attractive platform offers storage up to 1000 photos and videos for free, with subtle advertisements covering the cost. The only downside is that Flickr is only compatible with JPEG, GIF, and PNG images, not RAW files.
How to Store Photos in the Cloud
All cloud platforms have step-by-step guidance on getting started and many independent tutorials are available online. For Android or iOS devices, a variety of apps or built-in features make it easy to upload photos to the cloud, usually automatically. Dropbox has an automatic upload feature called Camera Upload, which functions the same way as the Google Photos app.