When was the last time you backed up your photos? Not just the ones you have on your phone, but also the pictures stored in photo albums, the ones that have already been burned to DVD or CD and all the precious snaps already printed and framed, hung proudly on display.
Of all the things in your home, chances are, the items of most importance to you are your photos. They are your memories and those of your family and friends. All the electronics, appliances, toys, and clothes can all be replaced, but your photos, being memories, can’t be. Not the physical copies anyway and that includes albums, DVDs, and CDs.
Throughout the years, how photos have been taken and then stored has evolved.
Post Millennium, a lot of photos were taken on standard film, taken to the printers when the spool was full then you would collect what was essentially an envelope of printed photos. Those would then be stored in photo albums. Or should have been anyway. Some of those envelopes of printed photos may have found their way from the messy drawer to a box in the loft.
The next technology shift was when digital cameras became more mainstream. Fewer photos were printed as more began to be stored in their digital form using SD cards.
Smartphones replaced the digital camera, and now people are frequently snapping photos with their phones auto-syncing the data directly to cloud storage.
The best thing to do with every photo that is important to you is to make a digital backup.
How to Digitize Every Photo You Need
For printed photos, you can (and should) scan them using an all-in-one home printer.
Provided you invested in a good quality photo album with acid-free paper, the prints should be preserved for years, possibly decades. Magnetic photo albums (the ones that use clear plastic to make the pages sticky) risk your prints sticking to the pages, in which case removing them can cause some severe damage by removing ink pigments from the photo.
Depending on the age of your photos, the quality of print and the album they’re stored in, some of your prints could already be affected by discolouration, fading, yellowing, or curling at the corners which can leave crease lines across the photo.
For prints that are already negatively impacted by ageing, a photo restoration service can be used to return the print to its former glory. You can then make a scan as a backup that’s always going to be around ready to print and frame if you need to again.
For digital storage, such as photos that were copied to disc, if you have not digitized those files, now is the time to do that because PCs and laptops are downsizing by removing internal DVD drives. Should the worst happen to your laptop or PC, and you need to replace it, it is likely you will not have a DVD drive. External DVD drives are still around, but given how technology changes every decade or so, those could go the way of VHS and Betamax players (remember those).
There is no telling what technology the future will bring, but for now, the latest and most reliable is Cloud Storage. The most notable Cloud Storage providers are Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud, although there are loads more services. Physical storage can be discs, albums, and photo books but even for your most treasured pieces that are already securely stored and displayed in an airtight frame, it’s still a good idea to take a photo of it to create a digital back up.