The most reliable way to back up your photos would be to utilize some sort of “cloud-based” file storage service. Storing data in the “cloud” simply means that, in addition to being saved on your computer’s hard drive, your pictures would also be stored on a third-party server and are accessible should anything ever happen to your computer or files. A perfect example of simple, free “cloud” photo backup would be Facebook. If privacy is not a concern, a person could upload their photos to their Facebook account and have a backup of all of their pictures. There are some picture size limitations to consider, but certainly very workable.
Dedicated photo sharing sites, which include Picasa, Shutterfly and Snapfish, to give a short list, provide a great way to store photos. These sites also allow for ordering prints, photo sharing, and ordering specialty items such as personalized calendars and gift cards. Once you create an account, each of these sites will store your photos for free with certain restrictions such as individual file size and overall storage size -- with upgrades available based on their individual pricing plans.
Other cloud-based storage services available include Google Drive, SkyDrive, and Dropbox. These services aren’t designed specifically for photo sharing, but can be used to store whatever types of files you like. Again, these services are free up to a certain amount of storage, after which fees will apply.
All computer hard drives will crash at some point. The average lifespan you should expect out of one is 2 to 3 years, so understanding that is a good place to start. It’s not a matter of “if” your hard drive will crash… it’s a matter of “when.” Being in the habit of backing up your hard drive is always a good idea, whether it’s your family photos, your favorite recipes, or the novel you’ve been working on for years.
As we always say, if you want to learn more about backing up your digital photos, or anything else, stop by the Dewitt Community Library and we would be glad to help you out.