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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Everything you need to know about digital files

I invest in a photo back up system that will never result in me losing my clients photos unless I delete them myself. What it takes to keep digital files operating at their best is this.

+ All files are duplicated using a system called DNG - basically it's a file format that adapts to new updates in photography software so that the impact of their age isn't as severe as a normal photo taken on your phone.

+ I have two physical hard drives that are replaced at least every 3 years - which is what every hard drive company promises.

+ All of the files I present to clients are stored electronically in two cloud systems.

+ I hire a company to install a babysitter of sorts that remotely keeps an eye on the function of my hard drives. Which means they call me if they have noticed my hard drives aren't properly doing a full system backup at 2am everyday.

Because I have so many photos, 300,000 at last count, the cost of a hard drive and electronic system that is super speedy costs about $2000 and the cost of the drive that backs up my speedy drive is $500 - that doesn't include the tech support and the monthly $120 cloud fee.

Contractually I"m obligated to save photos for 9 months. My clients receive many notices and YET on a weekly basis I'm asked for old digital files that have been lost. The reason I think it doesn't happen more often is because most people haven't checked their cloud storage or plugged in their hard drives. The most viewed newsletter I"ve ever sent is how to properly back up your digital photos. When I ask why it's so important people will say I prefer digital photos just in case I ever have a fire or flood.

To put that logic into context - as of April 2023 there are 39 million people that live in Canada - of those 24,000 homes have fires in them. But, manufacturers clearly state that your hard drive will run optimally for, depending on the brand, 1-3 years. However, archival quality printed photos can last for hundreds of years if you take care of them properly.

My kids are 13 and 11 and I recently tried to print a baby photo of my daughter for a school project that printed terribly. In the same week my IT company told me my hard drive was due and to replace the system given the number of photos I have the cost would be $4000. Which is why for the past year I've been making photobooks and offering them to clients. I knew I had to do all that I could before I could delete the photos with a clear conscience. The type of book that will last for hundreds of years.

How about you - what is your backing up system? Have you checked on your digital file system? If you want me to take a peak sign up for my ask me anything session.

I love hearing your questions. Please send me an email -

You might also be interested in what it looks like when photos age, what is photo resolution and how to back up your photos.

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