Why Your Digital Family Photos Are at Risk (And How to Protect Them)


Printed family photos scattered across the floor underneath camera equipment

Why Your Digital Family Photos Are at Risk (And How to Protect Them)

Your family photos are a lifetime (or more!) of memories that capture the essence of you and your loved ones. From bringing baby home to graduations, family vacations, and wedding days, these are photos you would never want to lose. But in today’s digital age, these cherished moments are incredibly vulnerable. According to recent reports, hardware crashes, accidental deletions, and cyber-attacks are the top reasons why people lose their digital photos. Yikes… Time to protect your digital family photos for good!!

The thought of losing these precious memories is gut-wrenching, BUT with a little know-how, you can protect them! We’ll go over the importance of backing up your digital photos regularly, then discuss options like cloud storage and physical storage devices. Next, see steps for organizing your photos and tips on creating a plan to safeguard your family memories forever. Read on to learn how to keep your digital family photos safe.

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The Importance of Backing Up Your Digital Photos Regularly

One of the most critical steps in protecting your digital family photos is regularly backing them up! Basically, it’s essential to have multiple copies of your files so that that you don’t lose them all at once. It may sound paranoid, but imagine for a moment what would happen if your ONE photo storage location were digitally or physically corrupted…

Ok it didn’t actually happen (hopefully!) so bring your heart rate back down… I’ve got you covered with how NOT to let that nightmare happen to you!! Keep reading to explore one of the most popular options for backing up digital photos: using cloud storage.

Using Cloud Storage to Protect Your Digital Family Photos

With the rise of cloud technology, there has probably never been an easier way to store your digital family photos. Cloud storage also allows you to access your photos from anywhere, AND you don’t have to worry about the physical damage or loss of a device. Win, win, win.

And get this – cloud storage providers typically have multiple data centers. Remember when we talked about backing up your files. Multiple data centers means that using a cloud storage provider gives you multiple copies automatically. The cloud storage provider does the work for you of ensuring that your photos are backed up in multiple locations. You don’t have to do a thing!

When it comes to cloud storage, there are a WIDE variety of services these days. Popular options include Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud (for Apple users) or OneDrive. All are frequently used for backing up personal photos.

Options within options for family photo protection

These services typically offer free options that are great for small amounts of data. But, the same service may require a monthly fee for larger amounts of storage. Using cell phone photos as an example (and you SHOULD back those up too!), think of the number of photos a typical dad might have on his phone, versus the number his wife may have. One person may be able to use free versions of these cloud services, while the other may need to pay for more storage space.

One thing to keep in mind when using cloud storage is that you’ll need a reliable internet connection to access your photos. If you have a slow or spotty internet connection, it could take a long time to upload or download large files. This is particularly true to access (or stream) uploaded videos.

So those are your best, easy cloud-based options. They may or may not be free, depending on how much storage you need. Now, let’s explore how physical storage devices can also help keep your digital photos safe.

How Physical Storage Devices Can Help Keep Your Digital Photos Safe

Cloud storage is certainly a convenient option for safeguarding your digital family photos, but it may not always be the most practical solution or the right one for you. For instance, slow internet speeds can make accessing and transferring large files a tedious (even painful) task. Or, depending on your disposition and/or generation… you may have some distrust of the whole “cloud” thing. Where is this cloud anyway… The internet is forever but it’s not necessarily for everyone!

Physical storage devices absolutely can come in handy when it comes to protecting your cherished memories. This is my personal preference, especially for your professional family photos! The cloud may work just fine and might be the most convenient for backing up from your phone. But, how about those extra special moments and memories that you’ve invested in with a professional photographer. I don’t know about you but I want to be personally, physically responsible for those photos!

What’s a physical storage device?

Good question. My recommendation is an external hard drive, or a USB drive. Both can provide you with an offline backup of your photos, which means they won’t be affected by internet connectivity issues. Plus, unless you’re using a “both/and” approach (more on that later) these photos will not be in the cloud. Check out the external hard drives I have used and trusted for over a decade, right here. Note that there are MANY options, this is just a brand that I trust! Be sure to check storage size before ordering.

Don’t miss this – it’s crucial to note that these devices are NOT immune to damage or loss. A hard drive can crash, or a USB drive can be stolen or misplaced, which could result in the permanent loss of your photos. Once again, yikes… It is absolutely essential to keep multiple copies of your stored data, whether offline or online, and in different locations.

If you’re interested in using physical storage, there are are a couple of ways to accomplish this. Keep reading for my recommendations on how.

How to Back Up Your Photos Using a Physical Storage Device

Option one: using the aforementioned “both/and” approach, meaning using both cloud storage AND a physical storage device. Just like that, your backups are covered! In the digital age, this is a popular backup option. You own a physical copy of your files, and the cloud also holds them as well. Great redundancy.

The other most common option is to have multiple physical storage devices. Since I am the owner of MANY thousands of digital photos, and I am VERY protective of them (paranoid, perhaps) – I use a two hard drive method. Below is specifically what I do to back up files. Stay with me for a second, and don’t judge me… too much.

I always own two external hard drives (both the kind I linked to). One hard drive lives with me, and I copy all of my photos to this hard drive very regularly. The other hard drive lives in a secondary location (not at my home). I copy the entirety of the first hard drive, to this hard drive, every few months.

This creates a second COPY of the primary hard drive, also known as a backup. Keeping it in a secondary location is a safeguard against catastrophic loss (like a fire), or theft of the primary drive.

I know… I know. Now you’re in on my crazy. If that sounds like WAY too much work, I recommend one physical storage device, and one cloud backup service. You do still have to copy your files to both regularly, but it is easier (and less paranoid) than the two hard drive method.

Ok, whew. Now that you’ve got solid options for storage, don’t skip this next topic! There are a few places that do NOT count as “photo storage”!!

Where NOT to “Store” Your Photos

You can probably guess what I’m going to say here, but it needs to be said anyway. I’ll go for the great big digital elephant in the room first: Facebook and Instagram DO NOT COUNT as “photo storage”. I cannot tell you how many people have told me they would love to leave social media (another topic for another day), but it’s where they keep their photos…

Folks, I am not judging you, I promise. I can’t see where you keep your photos, it’s really not personal, but please. If this is you, I am BEGGING you – do NOT leave it up to one tech company who does not specialize in or even offer real storage options, to keep your precious memories safe!!! They don’t care about that. It’s quite literally, not their business.

I know, I know, the photos are “there” already. But trust me when I say, it is NOT safe to delete your primary copies of priceless photos just because they are on social media! *Gets off soapbox...* Choose one of the above options, and put those babies somewhere they’ll be protected, like they deserve to be! There are VERY easy cloud storage backup options, and it’s pre-redundant! One or two steps and you’ll be done, I promise!

Devices… devices

A quick secondary soapbox – “storing” photos exclusively on your own phone is not safe. This does not seem as common to me, probably because almost all of us these days have dropped a phone to it’s untimely death… If there are photos on that thing that haven’t been backed up, they are GONE! I will add that in my opinion, this also applies to a single computer.

Anything can happen to ONE device (or one tech company…), and in many cases it will be completely unrecoverable. Bottom line – choose a cloud, physical, or combination storage option and back up regularly. Put this task in the list with cutting up Amazon boxes. Is it a great time, not really. Does it take a lot of time and effort, also not really. It just really needs to be done. It really does.

Up next, see how organizing your digital photos can add an extra layer of protection to your memories.

The Benefits of Organizing Your Digital Photos for Better Security

Another layer to ensuring your digital family photos’ safety is to organizing them correctly. Organizing your photos in a systematic way makes it much easier to find what you need, when you need it. It also minimizes the risk of losing your photos due to human error.

For example, accidentally formatting your hard disk… ouch. Or just straight up deleting your photos by mistake. It’s vital to take the time to organize your digital photos. Creating a folder structure that makes sense to you and is easy to navigate is the best way to do just that!

By organizing your photos, you also minimize the risk of data corruption. Data corruption occurs when you store your photos for an extended period without checking for errors or inconsistencies. Sounds very techy, I know. It’s particularly a problem for those who have a habit of taking pictures every day. A single corrupted file can cause an entire folder to become unreadable. This could be devastating for anyone who values their memories!

Organizing for back-up ease

Organizing your digital photos can also make it easier to back them up. You can choose to back up only specific folders, depending on their importance or how frequently you update them. This is especially important for the double physical storage device method (the crazy one, that I do). Rather than trying to copy EVERY file from the original location (your phone, computer, or primary hard drive) – with a folder system, you can easily see what needs to be copied and what doesn’t.

Start using a simple folder system that makes sense to you to organize your photos. This way, you can quickly identify which folders have changed since your last backup and only upload or copy those files to your chosen backup method. By organizing your digital photos, you create an extra layer of security that will help keep your family’s memories safe.

Ok, let’s dive into the steps you can take to create your personal plan to protect your digital family photos.

How to Create a Plan to Protect Your Digital Family Photos

To protect your digital family photos, you need to have a solid plan in place. Here are some steps to help you develop your own plan that will ensure that your memories are secure:

  1. Identify your most important photos. Start by going through your digital photo collection and determining which photos are the most important to you. This could include professional family photos, vacation photos, pictures of special events like weddings or birthdays, and also your cell phone photos. If it’s too much to do at once, go in order of importance and start slow.
  2. Choose a storage solution. Once you know which photos are the most important, you need to decide where to store them. This could be on an external hard drive, in cloud storage, a combination of both, or multiple of either. Whatever you choose, make sure you have enough space to store all of your photos. If a day comes when space runs out, either upgrade your cloud storage, buy a new physical drive, or both.
  3. Set up a backup schedule. It’s not enough to store your photos in one place; you need to back them up regularly to ensure that they’re safe. Come up with a backup schedule that works for you – this could be daily, weekly, or monthly – and stick to it. This is when you copy your photos from their original location (your phone, computer, primary hard drive, or all of these) to your backup (cloud storage, external drive, secondary drive, etc.)
  4. Create an organization system. To make it easier to back up your photos, create an organization system that works for you. This could involve sorting your photos into folders based on date, event, or location. Whatever system you choose, make sure it’s easy to maintain. For professional photos, often they will be in a folder after download – use that one, or rename to match your system. For cell phone photos, decide on your personal organization system and stick with it.
  5. Test your backups. Finally, make sure to test your backups regularly to ensure that they’re working properly. This could involve restoring or downloading a few photos from your cloud service backup to ensure that they’re still accessible, or physically opening files on your backup hard drive periodically to be sure nothing is corrupted.

Your digital family photos are PROTECTED!!!

You did it!!! By following these steps, you can create a plan to protect your priceless digital family photos. Stick to that plan to keep your photos protected forever.

In the digital age, our family photos are more precious than ever, and also more vulnerable. Your photos deserve to be protected! Do this by backing them up regularly, using cloud or physical storage, and organizing your photo libraries. By creating a plan to safeguard your digital memories, you can have peace of mind knowing they are safe.

Remember, your digital family photos are irreplaceable. Losing them would be devastating, but following these simple steps can keep those memories secure. If a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s make sure we don’t lose those incredibly valuable memories. Make a plan and institute it as soon as possible to protect your digital family photos! Make sure you keep your memories alive for generations to come.


PS – Looking to TAKE some new Family Photos??

Oh, you KNOW I’m in for that!!! If you are ready to ADD to your family photo collection, hit me up!!! Fall Family Mini Session signups are coming up SOON!!! For first access to these sweet family minis, join the email list!

Family smiles and laughs together during family photo session with Elle Bea Photography

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