Keeping Digital Photos safe

Fairly regularly at work I’m asked what I do to keep my digital photos safe. This question usually comes from someone who’s just had a hard disk failure or similar and lost their photo collection. At home my budget (like most people’s) doesn’t run to a Storage Area Network with fault-tolerant, load balanced RAID arrays, so I need to make use of tech I can afford. Anyway, this is my route to keeping photos safe….

  1. All the photos from my phone are automatically synced with Dropbox using the Camera Upload feature. Dropbox in turn syncs with my home PC
  2. All the photos from my normal digital camera are copied to a regular desktop USB hard drive plugged into my home PC. I make sure to do this frequently, it’s tempting with the large SD cards available now to put off downloading them but if your camera breaks or goes missing you could lose a lot of data.
  3. Because RAID was not an affordable option for my home setup I have a second USB hard drive attached and a short robocopy script which syncs the contents of the two drives.
  4. I have a third, portable, USB drive which I periodically update from one of the desktop drives and then it lives in my drawer at work.
  5. Finally I use Flickr to host photos, mainly the ones I want to share or that are really important- Wedding photos etc. Technically I could upload my entire collection (marked as private as you really don’t want to trawl through all my holiday snaps) but that’s hopefully unnecessary.

So in summary, I generally have 3 or 4 copies of my photos, with off-site backup. Hopefully that’s enough.