It’s the beginning of a new year and while you’re promising to lose weight or stop smoking, add another item to your agenda: Organize your photos and update your backups!
While flooding in Thailand has driven up the price of hard drives, they’re still incredibly cheap by historical standards. So don’t use drive prices as an excuse not to keep your backups up to date.
You can still get storage like this Buffalo 1 TB USB storage device for less than $150. For that price you can get two of them and keep one off site somewhere. You don’t even have to plug these into the wall, they draw their power from the USB port. It doesn’t get much easier or less technical than that.
A terabyte is a huge amount of storage. The Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk has multiple interface options that include USB and firewire for $129.00.
Online storage is also a possibility but I wouldn’t trust the cloud as my only solution. I use Photobucket albums for my proof size customer images, but never for production images.
While online storage is a better deal than it used to be, there are still too many potential pitfalls in end user agreements. TwitPics users are sometimes surprised to discover that their images can be sold to media companies and used in ways they may have never imagined.
The legal question of image ownership if one of the big photo sharing sites ends up in bankruptcy court also has yet to be determined. If you’re a professional, that’s worth thinking about.
The online storage I am more comfortable using are the ones that allow you to store your own encrypted containers. That way if the ownership of my files comes into question during bankruptcy or government seizure, it’s no problem as long as I have local backups.
For organizing the local copies of your images it’s hard to beat Lightroom. If you’re lucky enough to be a savvy tech user you can get a huge amount of functionality in Digikam. Unlike commercial software, which seems to feel compelled to change direction periodically, Digikam just gets better and better over time.
The only guaranteed way of insuring your photos will still be around 100 years from now is to print them out on either metal plates or paper embedded with metallic inks. But with good backup discipline and regular maintenance, you can at least expect your digital image library to last through your lifetime.