Organising Your Family’s Digital Photographs – Part One: Choosing Your Storage System

Organising your digital photos and choosing which to print is one of those things that can easily slide down your to-do list. After all, with many of us having photographs on various devices, CDs, memory cards and USBs it can seem like a mammoth task.

Over the next three weeks I’m going to dive deep into different aspects of digital photograph storage and organisation to help you get on top of it once and for all! In part one, we’ll be looking at the the different options you have for storing your photographs, and which ones might be best for you.

 

Choose a minimum of two places to store your photographs

Below I have outlined some of the most popular places to store your photographs, and why they might suit you. I recommend you choose a minimum of two of them where you will back up your photographs – that way you have the peace of mind that if one fails, you’ll still have another copy of your precious memories elsewhere. At the end I’ll outline how I store my photographs to give you a real life example.

External Hard Drives

Storing your photographs on an external hard drive is relatively straightforward. Simply plug the hard drive into your computer, transfer your files over to the hard drive, and there you have a backup. Some hard drives can also backup wirelessly which may make it even easier.

An external hard drive could be good for you if you own a computer. With the right cables / card readers you can transfer photographs from memory cards, cameras, phones and tablets onto your computer and then onto the external hard drive. If your photographs are all on mobile devices, and you don’t own a computer then I recommend looking at the cloud-based systems below.

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Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage system, where you can store documents, photographs and other files privately, and share them with your friends and family if you wish.

Dropbox is fairly straightforward to use, and as well as uploading photographs directly from your computer, you can also download the Dropbox app to your phone or tablet and upload directly from there.

A free Dropbox account comes with 2GB storage, but you can also earn extra free storage using the tips in this article. If you need more space, you can upgrade your account by paying a monthly fee.

Google Drive

Like Dropbox, Google Drive is a cloud based storage system where you can store different types of file, including photographs. Similarly, it’s quite straightforward to use and you can download an app which makes it easy to access from your mobile devices.

The free Google Drive account comes with 15GB storage, and if you have a Google email account you will have this 15GB free Google Drive storage attached to it already. You can also pay a monthly fee for extra storage, if 15GB is not sufficient.

Microsoft One Drive or iCloud Photo Library

If you are a PC user, or Apple user, you also have the option of storing your photos on Microsoft One Drive, or iCloud. Depending on how you choose to set these up, you can automatically save new photos to the drive when they are added to your device meaning that you don’t have to remember to back them up yourself.

Both systems come with 5GB free storage, and give you the ability to access your files on the go. As with all the other systems, you can also pay a monthly fee to increase the storage available on your account.

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Facebook and Instagram

You might share all of your photographs on Facebook or Instagram, and think ‘It’s ok – they’re backed up there.’ However, I don’t recommend relying on your social media accounts as a storage system, and here’s why… When you upload your photographs to Facebook or Instagram, they are ‘optimised’ to display well on there and this will often mean that the resolution is reduced. You probably won’t notice this when you save a photo from Facebook, but you will notice it when you print it. Therefore I recommend backing your photographs up elsewhere, and using the social media platforms simply for sharing.

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Putting it all together – The System I Use

As you can see, there are many different ways that you can store your photographs, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. But I understand that it can seem a bit overwhelming if you have thousands of photographs, and don’t have a system yet. I hope that sharing how I store my family’s photographs might give you an idea of how you could get started.

When I take photographs of my family on my camera, I back them up to two external hard drives. Why two? Because if one fails, I will hopefully still have the second one to rely on. I keep one of these hard drives ‘offsite’ at a close relative’s house, so that the risk of them both becoming damaged is reduced.

I don’t usually edit all of the photographs I’ve taken – just the ones I want to print or share. So once I’ve finished editing, I save the edited photographs on my hard drives, and also upload them to Google Drive.

For the photographs I take on my iPhone, I have my phone set up so that they backup to iCloud automatically. I rarely find the time to back them up to my hard drive manually, so this gives me the peace of mind that they are safe.

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Over to you

Do you have a storage system for your digital photographs? If not, which of these systems will work best for you? Do let me know in the comments below.

You can find the second and third parts of this series here:

Part 2: Create a Filing System For Your Digital Photographs

Part 3 : Choose Some Photographs To Print

 

Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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