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What Digital Photos Need Backing Up

If you follow me on instagram you know that I promised to talk about preserving your parents old photos. I promise to do that next week but I didn't feel like I could talk about that before I made one thing crystal clear.  

The only time you should digitize your printed photos is when you want to share them with family members or to make a book with multiple copies for your family.  


Wait, I guess there are three reasons - the third is if you are willing to pay for and manage your digital file library. What does that entail? Well, I've done all the research for you. In fact, I had my fancy tech friend walk me through it and then I asked chat gpt to make it less confusing and THEN I added in some jokes… obviously. 


Before I begin if you can't even bring yourself to read this laundry list I would be happy to do it for you (buy here) or you can do it yourself and purchase a course or scan my blog and cobble together all of the free information I've shared. No gate keeping here bestie. 


Let's get down to business. I know you're wondering if there is a way to ensure that you'll never lose your digital files? The short answer is no. Below you'll find your very best of accessing them though. There are many factors - types of storage, file formats, types of devices you use and where you store them. 



  • Hard Drives: These storage devices can last for several years, the fine print on most devices say 3-5 years but that depends on where you store them so they don't get physically damaged and how often you use them.

  • USB Drives and Memory Cards: Similar to hard drives, their lifespan can vary, and they may be prone to data corruption.

  • Cloud Storage: If you store your digital photos in the cloud, the lifespan is theoretically longer, but it depends on the service provider's policies and the availability of your data. I have heard of so many instances where kids needed more space in the cloud and compressed all their family photos. 

File Format:

  • The file format of your digital photos also plays a role. Common formats like JPEG can be susceptible to compression artifacts (when your images look like they have waves in them) over time. Using formats like TIFF or RAW can preserve image quality, but they may require more storage space. If you take photos on your iphone you know that the file formats have changed so if you want to print a photo you have to first convert it before printing. Apple did this in an effort to save space on your device so unless you changed it from the factory settings you are likely in this boat.

Technological Advances:

  • Technology advances move fast. Older file formats or storage devices have become obsolete over time. Which requires you to regularly research and update your storage methods to adapt to changing technology.

Backup and Redundancy:

  • Implement a backup strategy to safeguard your digital photos. Multiple copies stored in different locations or using different storage mediums can help prevent data loss. I use two drives that automatically back up in the middle of the night and I change my harddrives every three years because one of them dies. I pay for a service that monitors my drives and I pay $300 - $400/year.

If you're thinking that is so hard. It's not actually hard it's mostly expensive and, unless you have a photography business, it's probably unneccessary. Next week I'll be back to share with you how to.

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