Preserving Digital Photos
Sometimes files that are accidentally deleted can be restored. But, in many cases they can’t, so you need an alternative strategy. Printing all your pictures (as you did with film) is wasteful; not to mention expensive. Selective printing of your best pictures is a great way to preserve and enjoy them.
However, printing your photos isn’t the only reliable way to preserve them. The following strategies will help you to ensure your precious digital images don’t become lost.
1. Copy them to an external hard disk drive (HDD). This is the most cost-effective option for storing large quantities of digital data. You can buy a two terabyte (2000 gigabytes) drive that will sit on your desk top for less than $100. Portable (compact) drives cost a bit more. Both types are connected to the computer via a Hi-Speed USB cable and most come with software that enables you to backup your files automatically. The problem with this strategy is that your backup remains close to your computer. In the case of floods or fire, both the backup and your original images are at risk. However, it’s quite easy to have a second HDD in a separate location, or at least have a portable HDD that you can take with you when you leave home.
A portable, hard disk drive with a capacity of at least 500GB makes a great backup solution for saving your digital photos.
2. Copy your files onto optical disks and store the duplicates off-site (in bank storage boxes or at a friend or relative’s home). This solves the problems created by strategy 1 but has its own inherent flaws. Photographers today create huge amounts of image data. When you’re shooting stills with a 12-megapixel camera or recording video clips, it’s very easy to fill up a 1GB memory card. On a holiday you may produce as much as 8-15GB of image data.
3. There’s nothing wrong with leaving your images on the memory card – except it renders the card unusable. While it’s possible to use memory cards as you did film, it’s not cost effective – and small memory cards can be easily mislaid. When storing your digital photos, remember a failure in any storage device could mean your pictures are irretrievably lost. Don’t rely on automated file management systems as they can be unreliable. Instead, develop a scheme for taking, copying, editing and storing ALL your digital images as soon as you upload files to your computer.
A tried-and-proven routine is outlined below.
1. Shoot all images at the highest resolution and quality settings. (If your camera supports raw file capture, use it.) This gives you the best possible files for archiving.
2. Upload the image files to your computer, using the Copy process, which leaves the original image files on the memory card.
3. Examine your files and delete any images that are unwanted duplicates as well as those you know you will never want again (blurred shots, pictures with serious exposure problems, shots with intervening objects that spoil pictorial composition). Some photographers like to set up sub-files of ‘best’ shots at this stage to make them easier to find later.
4. Make a second copy of all the image files on a CD or DVD or external hard disk drive; somewhere that is not on your computer’s hard drive. Once this has been done, you can erase the files from your memory card, knowing that if a power surge took out your computer’s hard drive, a copy of your original photos would still be available.
5. NEVER delete files from the source location until you have verified them in the destination.
This is an excerpt from Post Capture Pocket Guide.
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