Digital Photo Storage and Organization

Clockwise from top left: external hard drive, thumb drive, DVD, CD, prints

I got a really great question from a reader do I store digital photos? Since I was planning on doing a post about it eventually anyway, I figured now is as good a time as ever. Thanks for the question, Ann J

As I see it, there are two main issues associated with digital photo storage. The first is simple: basic organization - How to store the photos in a way that lets you access them when you want to? The second is security - How can you store your photos in a way that protects you from total loss should your computer crash?

Basic Organization:

I use my photos in two ways - the good old fashioned way (looking at them in an album) and the more modern way (sharing them electronically). Therefore, I have two different way of storing my photos from an organizational standpoint.

I don't know. Maybe I'm too "old school"...but I really like good old fashioned prints. There's just nothing quite like sitting down with a photo album and reminiscing. Each year, I go out and buy a new album. I have one album for each year. It's important to buy the kind that's expandable...meaning you can add more pages as needed (this is the album I use). And then, once a month, I look through the pictures I took that month and decide which ones I want prints of. Then I pop them into the album. Done.

From an electronic standpoint, I keep it very simple. When I download my pictures to my computer, they are automatically stored by date. I leave them that way. But my hard drive is filling up fast! I’ve been thinking a lot about how to store my photos long term. That leads me to the second issue…

Secure Long Term Storage:

I’m a nut for photo security. Always have been. I have a giant safe deposit box at my bank, which contains our marriage license…and hundreds…maybe thousands of film negatives! I just couldn’t bear it if I lost all of those precious images in a house fire or something. It’s an illness…I know.

I can think of 4 ways to store your photos in their digital format:

1. Computer hard drive (already talked about that)

2. External hard drive

3. Thumb drive or similar device

4. Disc

External Hard Drive: I bought one of these to backup my computer. I plug it into a USB port, and simply drag files from my computer’s hard drive onto it. It has an enormous amount of storage. I’m tempted to go get another one of these to use exclusively for photo storage. For now though, I still have enough room to backup my entire computer (spreadsheets, Word documents, music, and pictures) to this one device. Pretty slick!

Thumb Drive or similar: These are handy to store photos on when you’re on your way to the store to have prints made. It’s very portable and affordable, but don't have a ton of space.

Discs: DVDs or CDs can store quite a few photos! They are easy to store, and are also a pretty “stable” format – from what I understand anyway…they don’t degrade over time (unlike film, for example). They are also very affordable.

So what am I going to do? Probably all of them!

I’ll primarily use my external hard drive to backup and store my photos. But I’ll also burn them to discs…and put them in my fire proof media safe or safe deposit box. Note: a fire proof media safe is different than a document media safe.

Hey…I warned you that I was a nut. Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go backup my pictures!

P.S. I'd love to hear how you store your photos - please...comment away!

Sarah M  – (2/17/2008 08:39:00 PM)  

one word: Picasa.

Check it out--its from google (so you know it's awesome) and it's free! Even better!

Anonymous –   – (2/18/2008 10:28:00 AM)  

THis is a great post, and very helpful for me! I lost my son's Marine Corps boot camp graduation pictures due to a computer crash. Now I keep EVERYTHING on discs.

Mary in TN

Hilty Sprouts  – (2/18/2008 01:57:00 PM)  

I like Picasa too and then I upload to a google web album from there. I also have prints that I put in albums. But after this post I have a hankerin' for one of them newfangled external hard drives! Daiq, you are the queen of photo storage, I bow down to you. ;0)

Anonymous –   – (2/21/2008 11:23:00 AM)  

I just wanted to add a quick word of warning for those who are storing photos on discs: be careful how you label them! A cheap label can ruin the photos burned on your disc. Markers which have solvent based ink can mess up the data on the disc. That is also true with sticker labels. The glue can corrupt your photos after a few months. I use my DiscPainter to label discs for long term storage because it uses printable discs. These discs have an added printable layer that protects the disc. My DiscPainter also puts really nice color labels on them and also adds text descriptions onto the label image.

Anonymous –   – (2/24/2008 11:33:00 AM)  

Nancy i have the dymo discpainter and i love it.....i use it all the time to label all my cds for my cute little projects at home and to do quick photo albums for my family.... its a great tool for putting just that personal touch on things that might matter to you.

Dede  – (2/24/2008 11:36:00 AM)  

Hey girls....i have been using my dymo discpainter for well over two months and i can't love it any like impossible...the quality, the easy software, the price, the fact that there is only one cartridge to buy,,, its a perfect little printer all in one

Anonymous –   – (2/24/2008 09:21:00 PM)  

I hate the markers and sticky labels…i get so frustrated, but i saw the dymo discpainter in the store and bought it to try it out…i couldn’t be happier with it..finally an easy labeling system thats a no-brainer to figure out and to use

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