3 Steps for Photo & Video Backup

Digital photos and videos seem to pervade every part of our lives. The surge of popularity in smartphone usage over the past few years allows us all to have access to a high-quality camera conveniently located in our pockets.

This, combined with the ease of sharing photos on social media, means we’ve all started to accrue an archive of digital photos and videos. While there are many advantages and conveniences associated with taking digital photos, the main downside is our lack of ability to physically hold onto them. We’ve all heard the horror stories of some type of technological mishap causing someone to lose every last digital photo and video they’ve ever taken.

Ensuring that you have proper, secure backups in place for your photo archive will bring you peace of mind knowing that your digital photos and videos are safe and sound, not to mention easily accessible!

1. Set up a cloud backup

A cloud-based backup option is easy to keep up with and in many cases allows you to set up automatic backups from your phone or computer. Another benefit to a cloud-based backup is that you can easily access your backed-up files from your mobile devices, not to mention you have the ability to back up your photos and videos from anywhere at any time. Some commonly used cloud backup options that we recommend include Dropbox, iCloud, Crashplan, Carbonite, and iDrive. We’ve included tips for our two favorites, iCloud and Dropbox.

How to Make Sure Your iPhone is Backed Up to iCloud

  • Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.
  • In iOS 8 or later, tap Settings > iCloud > Backup
  • Make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on.
  • Tap Back Up Now
  • Make sure the backup finished by tapping Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and then select your device.

How to Install Dropbox on Your iPhone (Alternative iPhone backup)

  • Open the App Store
  • Tap “Search” on the bottom panel and type in “Dropbox”
  • Tap “Get”
  • The Dropbox app will start to download
  • When it’s finished, tap “Open”
  • When the app is open, tap “Photos”. A window will pop up asking if Dropbox has permission to access your Camera Roll — tap “Allow”
  • Your photos from your Camera Roll will start to sync to Dropbox
  • Anytime you want to back up your Camera Roll to Dropbox, just open the Dropbox App and your Camera Roll will sync. All you have to do is open the App!

2. Invest in an external hard drive

While it’s unlikely that your cloud backup will fail, it can take a while to retrieve files from your cloud storage provider, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to storing your irreplaceable digital memories. Choose a hard drive that has enough free space to fit your current archive and then some. Your best option will likely be a 1-2 Terabyte drive — the brand is not important, but pick something with good user reviews like a Western Digital or Seagate drive. You can set up automatic system and folder backups on your external hard drive using Windows or OS X’s built-in tools, which will sync to the hard drive when it is plugged into your computer, or on a set schedule. You should plug your drive in long enough to complete a full automatic backup at least once a week, to be safe.
You can also keep a second external hard drive backup in case of an emergency at your home. This will let you get your archive back much more quickly than your cloud backup service will be able to. You can back up your archive manually by dragging and dropping your archive onto the external hard drive from your computer.

3. Remember to delete your old backups!

Remember to delete the old backup right before or after creating the new backup, otherwise you’ll find yourself with a mess of duplicates from multiple backups of the same thing. It’s helpful to make a note on your calendar to do these manual backups — the best practice is to back up your archive about once a month, depending how many photos you take. It’s best to store this second external hard drive in a safe place away from your home.

The important takeaway here is that it’s important to have at least two separate backups of your archive: one in the cloud and another on an external hard drive. There are several options as far as the type of cloud backup you choose, but no matter what you select, the dual-backup system will ensure the safety of your archive and will provide you with peace of mind that your memories are securely stored.

For additional information on any of these services, please visit:

PC Mag Guide – 10 Best External Hard Drives

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“I want to be involved in my photos. It’s important to me. I’m OK with technology. But there were just too many photos. I was totally frustrated and demotivated and had basically stopped doing anything except for holiday cards.”

Rachel J.