Just a few days ago I got impatient and didn’t take the time to eject a USB properly and guess what?

THE FILE CORRUPTED. 

How ironic, right?  As I was finishing up writing this blog series about backing up your files I had this very thing happen to me!  I’m beyond thankful that the files on the USB were not images.  What was on there was a Word document that held months and months of notes from an online course I had been taking and I had not backed up that file anywhere else.  The horror!

I. was. devastated. 

I watched a lesson a day for a solid two and a half months and taken diligent, extensive notes on this information.  I had two days left of the course and then I was finished.  Without these notes I was going to have to go back and re-watch the entire course.
My husband works in IT.  He looked at the file and said, “There’s nothing I can do here but I’ll take it to work where there’s a machine that might be able to recover it.  I’ll be honest though it doesn’t look good.”  The kids were rubbing my back and drawing pictures to make me feel better.  I’m not even kidding.
Let me reiterate that these were not even images of my life or my children’s lives.  It was simply a bunch of notes and essentially a few months of my time that I would be able to re-do if need be.  I cannot imagine what I would have felt like if I had lost images of moments I could not go back and re-create.

It would cripple me.  No joke.

If you’ve been following along you’ve read my post,Are your kids growing up on your hard drive?” and learned that the most important thing you can do for your images is to print them.  You may have also read about how to organize your files to be able to easily access what you are looking for.  Today I’m excited to share with you some easy and very reasonably priced options for backing up your image files.
Storing your images in multiple locations is the main takeaway here.  Here are some options:
1.  External hard drives.  They are inexpensive and hold a lot of data.  You can expect an external hard drive to have a life of 5-7 years so while it is good to back up one copy to an external hard drive it’s even better to have a third copy somewhere off site just in case.
2.  Cloud storage.  Dropbox, Backblaze, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive are all cloud-based storage options.  I use Backblaze and pay $5/month for their service.  $60/year is worth the peace of mind that Backblaze gives me.  This is my second backup with the first being storage using external hard drives.
3  Hard copy.  Go through your images and print the ones that touch your heart.  Keep those prints stored in a cool, dry, dark place to increase their longevity.  Print at a quality lab and avoid big box stores (especially Walgreens).  My recommendation would be to support local business and print your snapshots at Art’s Cameras Plus.  They even ship to your home if you want to avoid the drive to Waukesha.
If you are an Amazon Prime member you have access to Amazon Photos which is a photo storage option included in your membership that I just learned exists.  It might be willing to look into if you’re wanting to avoid an extra expense.
It’s best to have three copies of all your images and at least one of those copies should be off site in case of theft, fire or natural disaster.
Keeping your eggs in one basket is to be avoided.  Spread those eggs out!  Be mindful that companies launch, promote and eventually fold products all the time, sometimes with no warning, so only using cloud storage is not a good idea, just as only using external hard drives is not desirable due to the risk of failure.
My personal images are stored on 1) my computer 2) external hard drives 3) Backblaze.  For my professional work I have three other temporary copies until the files and products are delivered to my clients.  My camera writes to two cards simultaneously and I do not delete those images off of my CF cards until they have been delivered.  Be mindful that CF cards fail and should not be trusted to hold your only copies of your precious memories.  They are not intended to be a long-term storage solution.  Finally I have a copy stored on my website gallery until delivery as well.
In the end my husband saved the day and was able to recover my Word document using the magical machine at his place of employment.  He is and will forever be my hero.  Take the steps above so that you don’t experience the devastation you would feel if you were to lose something far worse.  Taking these steps may take a little time to set up but the peace of mind you will feel after it’s done will be well worth the effort.

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