Whether they are pictures of your wedding, a child’s first birthday, the greatest vacation ever, or the last family reunion with Great Grandma in attendance, your photos are precious memories. Unfortunately, they are also extremely easy to lose forever.
Back when pictures really became a common household thing, it was difficult to take care of photographs. Negatives were notoriously hard to store and easily damaged. Pictures faded or were lost in moves, fires, or thrown away. With the advent of scanning technology, people were able to scan older pictures to make them last longer. Then digital cameras came on the scene and pictures officially moved to digital images instead of being captured on film. But memory cards can become lost, damaged, or unreadable. Hard drives were (and still are) a decent option for storing pictures. But older disk drives, which require spinning for the computer to access the information, are prone to damage—especially in laptops. The newer digital ones are more durable, but they are still suseptible to viruses or computer failure.
Then we were all taught that the best thing to do was to back up your pictures on a CD. But, sadly, it turned out that writeable CDs did not have the lifespan people expected. Just a couple of years later, trying to view photos on a CD—even if they were protectively stored—became impossible as the CDs degraded and were rendered unreadable.
Even the way we take pictures has changed. Lots of people now mostly take pictures with their phones. But if you aren’t backing them up, it is extremely likely that you will lose your pictures at least once. Phones are easily lost or stolen, broken or damaged. Batteries stop holding a charge. I had my SD card reformat itself once. When you’re switching carriers or upgrading your phone, sometimes you have to trade in your old model.
So what should you do with your photos? Many companies offer backup services for computers and cloud storage. I strongly advise you to take advantage of one for your digital pictures. Even a photo sharing site will keep your pictures safe for you; keep in mind that some require an annual purchase in order to maintain your photos for you. Another alternative is using a flash drive. They are getting better and better as well. With no movable parts, they last longer than traditional hard drives. There are even models that are fire- and water- resistant, adding peace of mind for a reasonable price.
No matter what route you go, I recommend saving your photos in more than one place. Even if you print them out and stick them in an album, you should still have another copy of them somewhere. If you save them digitally, definitely have a backup in the cloud, a photo sharing site, or something similar. This way, if one storage method fails you, there is still another way to access your pictures.