The days of printing photos soon after they’re snapped are long gone. More common now is to store your photos as digital media, print the ones that look the best, and have the best of the best professionally printed and framed so you can enjoy them. With photos on devices consuming more memory, cloud storage services are at the ready with offers to help you hoard your collections in the cloud for x amount per month or year. If you want to avoid yet another subscription, you need to know how to go about storing masses of digital media.
Your Non-Cloud Storage Options for Digital Photos and Video
Optical drives are how to store data on a CD or a DVD. A CD can only store around 700 MB of data. Considering an image file is up to 5MB in size, that’s not a lot. 140 photos on average. A single DVD can store up to 4.7GB though so that could be a viable alternative. Need more? Use Blu-ray discs – A single-layer Blu-ray disc can store 25GB, and dual-layer discs store 50GB. There are archival-grade Blu-ray discs with claims of lasting 50 years and even a century, although, whether devices to read the data will be available that far in the future is anyone’s guess.
If you do go the route of disc storage, know that only write-once discs are safe from malware. Once your disc is finalised, it can’t be written to again so even if you connect a drive to a computer infected with malware, it can’t damage your data because the disc can’t be written to. That’s not the case with rewritable discs. Data on those can be corrupted.
SD cards are common storage units for small portable devices like smartphones, DSLR cameras, and even dashcams. They are appealing because you get high storage capacities for not a lot of money. Consider these to be disposable memory because they do degrade and were never intended to provide long-term storage. That’s why every device that uses these has a method to connect to a different device to transfer data. That’s the best use of SD cards and memory sticks. If you don’t have a computer to transfer data to, most photo printing kiosks in stores have slots for SD and Micro SD cards.
External hard drives
External hard drives can be HDD (Hard-Disc Drive) or SDD (Solid-State Drive). HDDs are mechanical and easier to damage than SDDs. The storage capacity of SSDs is massive with some going as high as 100TB of storage, however, prices are in the 5-figure range for those. Consumer-level SSD drives offer 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB storage. In terms of media capacity, 1TB of storage can store up to 500 hours of HD videos. If you have just as many special memories captured on video as you have photos, external hard drives would be a viable option.
Important to note is that SSD uses flash memory and that has a life expectancy of 10 years. The more you save data to the drive, the faster it degrades. For important files that you never want to lose, use more than one external drive. One that you use to view the files (or pull copies to crop and print), and the other(s) as a backup.
Use Cloud Storage for Your Most Precious Digital Media Files
The advantage of Cloud Storage is that there’s no physical harm to your files, provided you keep your password to your account secure. Nearly every provider offers a free plan. Storage capacity differs by provider, and it is completely viable to have more than one free plan to store different albums in different places. You’ll need to have a way to remember the passwords and email for each cloud storage provider you use though. A disadvantage may be the file type limitations as to lower memory usage, file types are restricted to compressed file types rather than uncompressed TIFF files and similar RAW formats.
For those with a need to organise digital media files, a good idea is to store videos on DVDs, and photos on CDs or DVDs. Preferably, Blu-ray as those have higher storage capacities. For your most precious photos and videos, use cloud storage.