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Be Safe Not Sorry: Would Your Photos Survive a Natural Disaster? A Hard Drive Crash?

It’s hard to imagine losing your treasured photos, but for victims of fire, hurricane, or flood it can be a heartbreaking reality. Even more likely than a natural disaster is a technical one. A crashed hard drive, stolen computer or broken smart phone can mean instant loss of priceless memories.

In time for National Save Your Photos Day on September 26, here are four steps you should take to help you prepare BEFORE disaster strikes.

1. Digitize old prints, slides, and movies

After weeding out duplicates and duds, your old pictures should be digitized. Slides, important documents and even children’s artwork can be digitized too. Scanning can be time consuming, but it is the best way to make sure that these memories will be there in the future. Store original prints in archival storage boxes. Don’t overlook converting home movies on film and VHS/Beta. (Bonus, you’ll be able to actually watch them!)

2. Merge your Digital Files

Make one household computer or External Hard Drive the hub for all your digital files. Store all your newly scanned photos and digitized movies on this device, along with the digital pictures from all your family’s computers, phones and tablets.

3. BackUp, Back Up … and then Back Up Some More

The Association of Personal Photo Organizers recommends at least three copies of your pictures, stored in at least two locations. Pick your favorites from this list.

  • Originals on your main hard drive

  • One copy automatically backed up on an external hard drive plugged into main computer

  • One copy stored on a separate external hard drive outside your home (If your computer is stolen or destroyed in a fire, sadly the EHD will probably be too)

  • Back up all your pictures and video in the cloud. Keep your subscriptions up to date and periodically make sure your company is still in business.

  • Print out your most important pictures and store in archival storage box. Sounds old fashioned, but a hard copy of a picture can last a lot longer than a digital copy!

4. Be Ready to “Grab and Go”

Ask ten people the one (non-living!) thing they would take if there house was burning down and nine would say “my photos”. Make sure your media is easy to grab if you need to evacuate.

  • Physical photos in archival storage boxes in easy to access location

  • External hard drive that is plugged into your main computer. Put in a ziplock bag.

  • A note with your Cloud storage location and log in information

Nobody wants to think about losing their pictures to a natural or technical disaster. Follow this plan you’ll be Safe Not Sorry!


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