You’ve probably had that horror moment when you realize that your computer with all your baby photos on it has crashed and you don’t have a backup of anything you’ve done before. As I’ve almost lost all the photos I’ve ever taken in my life on a monthly basis, I’ve pretty much gotten a handle on what to do.
Remember this, the question is not whether your computer and your hard drive will fail, it’s when it will fail. This is important. Your computer will die, everything on it will be erased. Understand that it doesn’t matter how much you paid for the thing it’s going to break.
There are a few free, and some pay ways to ensure that no photo ever is lost however, and I’ll go into the ones I’ve used here.
Free photo backup solutions for you baby photos
It’s a social network site, it’s also a great place to back up your photos. The phone app allows you to sync your photos via cell or WiFi, so whenever you want they automatically upload from your phone.
I’d personally suggest WiFi only backing up as data plans can be tricky and costly, however if you’re on vacation you might want to turn on mobile uploads just in case you lose your phone.
Google’s always giving extra disk space for photo storage, so at some point you might run out of storage space but you’ll have more soon enough probably.
You can also use Google Drive, but at fiveish gigs of storage that’s not particularly useful for me.
The Facebook apps for iPhone and Android allow you to do pretty much the same thing as Google Plus does, however the photos I believe end up being compressed somewhat. You won’t lose anything, but you might end up with a slightly lower quality image.
While it may be kind of antiquated, a separate physical drive and the Windows Backup software that shipped with your computer work remarkably well to keep recent copies of photos backed up.
In a weird situation I recently had in which all of my photos got replaced by bad versions (long story about a photo optimizer gone bad,) Windows Backup saved me because I had two day old versions of the photos.
All my corrupted photos had been synced up to Carbonite and I was going to have to deal with a systems tech there to pull info from days before. It was not going to be pleasant.
Paid photo backup solutions
Something to note is that Dropbox comes free with many phones, so if you’ve got it and got the storage space, it’s an excellent utility to immediately get a photo off your phone and to cloud storage.
The basic account is free, and gives you about two gigabytes of storage. You can usually get a couple hundred megs more by activating it on multiple devices. Two gigabytes is not a terrible lot of storage, so you’ll probably run through that pretty quickly especially if you’re doing video.
Dropbox pro will get you 100+ gigabytes, but will run you $100 a year. Not the cheapest backup solution but probably the easiest.
Carbonite backup will back up anything that you’ve got on your computer. I’ve never found an upper limit for their storage, and have somewhere around 250 gigabytes of photos, videos, music, etc stored up there.
I haven’t used the Cabonite Mobile app as of yet, but it functions about the same as any of the other utilities.
Carbonite costs about $60 a year, and is pretty easy to deal with as long as you make absolutely sure that the desktop client is set to back up the folders you want.
Also realize if you’re backing up 100 gigs of data, the first backup could run into the months depending on the speed of your internet connection. 250+ gig took me 41 days at 3meg up, however that’s on the home (not pro) account, and 250 gigs is a whole hell of a lot of data.
There is another
There are other options, I’ll be playing with a couple of them in a few weeks as part of my other blogging gig, but I can’t comment on whether they’re any good.
The importance of multiple backup locations
You should realize that not only will your computer fail, but your backup will fail. Be this because the desktop app crashed a week ago and you didn’t realize it, or because corrupted data got synced up, or just random demons.
Having only one backup location is not recommended. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend hundreds on multiple ones, but do what I do – one pay, two free. You’re probably set.
I’d advise keeping an eye on the pictures every month or two to make sure they’re still backing up, but once you’ve got the automation in place things should be good.
I’d hate to lose photos of my baby, wedding, etc. That would suck.
Remember, it will fail
It doesn’t matter if it’s a thumb drive, USB connected hard disk, backup service, etc. It will fail. It doesn’t matter how much you spend, something’s going to break at some time.
If you back up to your house, expect it to get struck by lightning, if you back up to an off site server, expect them to get taken down by the NSA or MPAA, just expect multiple failures and plan accordingly and your baby photos should be preserved until we’ve got storage solutions that are more reliable.
I’ve been working as a computer technician since the early 90’s, I’ve watched every unbreakable thing break, and every great scheme fail. Don’t put your trust in one place, you should be fine.