Do you have your important digital photos on your computer? Great . but what happens if your computer “crashes”? Will your photos be lost? Can you “get them back”? What are some preventive measures you can take to prevent losing digital images? These are some tough questions that we all must look at, regardless of what type of camera we use.
First of all, let’s look at basic image storage. A computer hard drive (either internal drive or an added, external drive) is a good way to store images. Hard drives have become very inexpensive and there are many to choose from. The only problem is that computer hard drives can “crash”, or become unusable. In fact, it is not an issue of “if” this happens to you, but an issue of “when” it happens. The hard drive is a working piece of equipment and, like all working equipment, they will break down at some time. The solution, then, is to have a backup to the hard drive’s images.
Backup images are a good thing. In fact, they are really a necessity. Image backup can be done on another hard drive. Or they can also be on CD’s or DVD’s. My preference is a backup hard drive, but I also have backup CD’s/DVD’s. In fact, my system contains one primary hard drive with all images on it, and one backup hard drive (identical to the first one) that has all images on it. I back up my drive #1 contents to my drive #2 on a weekly basis (I have just implemented some software that does this automatically while I sleep!). In addition to this, when I return from a photo trip, I also make 2 DVD’s of photo images (one main DVD and one backup DVD) of all digital images made on the trip. Thus, if my main drive ever fails, I have a backup drive. And should both drives fail at the same time (pretty unlikely), I always have 2 DVD’s I can go to. A little “overprotective” maybe, but when you rely on digital images for your occupation, you must take suitable precautions!
In your case, you should determine the extent of importance your digital images offer you and make a decision on backups based on that determination. However, it is my opinion that if you have stored images on your computer, they are probably important enough that you should have at least one backup.
One more thing. If you decide to use CD’s or DVD’s as storage for your digital images, please be aware that CD’s and DVD’s have a “shelf life”. Although no one seems to agree on this time, it is generally thought that 5-10 years is a reasonable shelf life. Thus, if you store images on CD’s or DVD’s, you should make new CD’s or DVD’s before your CD’s or DVD’s reach their shelf life and become nonworking. This is another vote for hard drives as the storage medium.
And, by the way, if you should lose your hard drive, you “may” be able to get them back. There are companies around who work on recovering data lost when computers crash. They may be successful … maybe not … either way, there certainly will be a cost associated with their service.
If you have ideas, suggestions, or experiences you’d like to share on image storage and backup, I’d certainly like to hear from you. You can e-mail me with your info at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As summer approaches and we all get our cameras out for more photo ops, be sure to back up your images!