Before personal computers became a ubiquitous home appliance, large photo albums would hold all of a families treasured photographs. These albums would be irreplaceable and to lose them would mean losing a lifetime of saved memories.
In the digital age we now have the ability to save and copy a photo an infinite amount of times and store it not only in our homes but externally as well. This creates a world where you never have to worry about losing your photos but there are some things to keep in mind.
Properly saving your photos:
If you have hard copies of your older photos from the era of film cameras you should really think about digitizing them. Using a scanner and a few moments of your time can save you a lot of frustration if anything were to happen to your vulnerable photos.
When you save your photos to your computer, make sure you save them in a lossless file format. Most of the time your photos will save as a JPEG but this is not ideal. JPEG files will compress your photos and lose some of the quality of the image every time you move them around. Instead of JPEG, make sure you save them as a .PNG, .TIFF, or .RAW file. This will make sure that no matter how many times you copy, move or edit the photo it will retain its original quality. All of these file types allow a range of compression when saving them so when you are making the original files make sure they are saved at the highest level possible.
Protecting your digital photos:
Once you have digital copies on your computers hard drive, your photos are still vulnerable! Just because they are saved on a computer does not mean they are secure. Your hard drive is just as vulnerable to the elements as your photo album with the added risk of hardware failure or virus infection. This is why it is so important to back up your files externally. The most basic way of protecting them is loading them onto a burnable CD/DVD but these are easily scratched or lost and do not provide very much security to your photos. An external hard drive can be a good option but these are vulnerable in the same way that your computer's hard drive is. The best way to secure your photos is with a cloud service.
Saving files in the Cloud:
Cloud computing can mean a lot of different things depending on what your talking about. For the purposes of this article it means a service that allows you to access your files through an online medium. There are numerous free services that will hold all of your files from the safety of an underground bunker filled with servers. To ensure that your files are protected I recommend taking advantage of one of these services. Microsoft offers 25gigs of free storage through their Skydive service. This will usually be more than enough for the average persons photos. Other services such as Amazon's Cloud Drive allows you to store other files such as music and stream them directly from the internet to your computer or mobile phone with the first 5gigs for free and the rest at $1/gig per year. The market for online storage is expanding rapidly and it won't be too long before we can start expecting to have massive amounts of free storage available whereever there is internet access.
Any time you don't have your files backed up or your photos saved you run the risk of losing them all. This is easy and free to avoid so don't forget to protect your information with these simple methods.