Adapted from content by Agent Laura M. and Agent Zach T.
We all have possessions we value. In the physical world, we might value cars, jewelry, houses or cabins. We also value the relationships we have with family, friends, and pets. And, as with most things we value, we work very hard to protect those things we value from loss and destruction.
But what about the memories we’ve captured in our photos and videos? We value those and often go to great lengths to protect them. It used to be we kept those things on bookcases or in drawers, photo albums and file cabinets. Not anymore. These days, a lot of what’s important to us are strings of zeros and ones stored on computers. Those things are a lot harder to secure and protect.
This is where that old saying about losing data comes in. You know the one –
there are two kinds of people in the world; those who have lost data and those who are about to.
It’s important to be be careful with the electronic versions of keepsakes. Since it is likely that you regularly download new files to the “Pictures” directory on your computer, we highly recommend clients set up a regular data back-up routine. Here are a few different solutions for how to approach this process.
External Hard Drive: Perfect for media hounds, or families with only one computer. External hard drives can hold an amazing amount of data. Some consumer devices hold as much as 4 TB of data – more than even the most avid photographer will ever need. To put this into perspective, 1 TB of data would fill about 1,400 CD-ROMs. Another bit of good news is the cost of these hard drives keeps coming down. You should be able to buy one much, much bigger on the hard drive in the computer you own for between $80 and $200. Both Windows and Apple machines have backup programming built right into the operating systems. It will be easy to set up a routine that backs up your computer weekly, which is the frequency we reccommend.
To set up a backup routine on your Windows machine using the Backup and Restore feature:
1. right-click on your local drive
2. select “Properties”
3. select the “Tools” tab
4. select “Back up now”
5. choose a destination for your backups (your external drive)
6. schedule the days/times for your backups
To set up a backup routine on your Mac using the Time Machine for Apple utility:
1. open the Time Machine utility
2. select the disk where you want your backups to be saved (your external drive)
Time Machine makes hourly backups for the last 24 hours, weekly backups for the last month, and monthly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups will be deleted when your destination disk becomes full.
Advantages: No ongoing fees, doesn’t require Internet connection.
Drawbacks: Only accessible on that computer, external hard drives can be bulky to transport.
Network Attached Storage (or NAS drive): NAS drives are like souped up versions of the external hard drives we talked about above. And, like those external hard drives, you can use utilities on your devices’ operating system to create backupes. Typically, these devices have much more storage and can be easily accessed by multiple computers and devices in your home. They’re perfect for families with many computers and a lot of files. Some NAS drives can even be accessed wirelessly! It’s like giving your family your own private cloud.
Advantages: can be shared across multiple computers on your network.
Drawbacks: NAS devices require a router which can make them tricky to integrate into your home network.
EyeFi SD Card: This device is perfect for people who use a digital camera. Essentially, it’s an SD card with the ability to wirelessly connect to your smartphone, tablet or computer. This magical SD card allows users to back up their SD card onto another machine without any special equipment – just stick it in your camera and it will use the Internet to send your pictures to your computer. That way, if you are disciplined about backing up your pictures and you drop your camera off the Golden Gate Bridge, at least you won’t lose the pictures.
Advantages: Allows you to offload photos without any special equipment – great while you’re on vacation
Drawbacks: Requires a wireless internet connection to work.
Cloud Storage: If you use a number of different computers in a variety of locations and want to be able to access your data anywhere you go, then cloud storage is probably the best solution for you. Basically, cloud storage involves backing your computer up over the Internet to a server maintained by a company to whom you pay a fee to save your data. Think of it like a safety deposit box at your local bank. If anything happens to your camera, computer or external drive, you have backup copies located somewhere else. You can access the files anywhere that you have an Internet connection. Many online companies offer cloud storage, including DropBox, Carbonite, SugarSync and Backblaze. Of course, Microsoft, Google and Apple each offer cloud storage that is tied in to their operating systems. Some companies offer data-management apps that you can install on your tablet or smartphone that automaticall back up those devices to a cloud storage platform. If you want to share your digital albums with friends and family, a photo sharing service like Flickr, Instagram or Photobucket would be your best bet. Services like this often offer customizable albums to help you store, share and organize your photo library. Some even offer limited photo editing
Advantages: Easier to access your files from anywhere, files protected even if something happens to your home,
Drawbacks: Unless you have copies of the images on your device, you will need an Internet connection to view them. In addition to that, most services only offer a limited amount of space for free, so if you’re a photographer taking huge panoramic shots then you may have to end up paying for more storage space.
Don’t let the intangibility of your most important photos and memories stop you from taking steps to protect it. As you can see, there’s a solution out there for everyone. If you have questions about which approach you should take or need help setting up your backup routine, your friendly neighborhood Geek Squad Agent is standing bty. Chat with an Agent today, at at 1-800-433-5778, or stop by for a visit at your local Geek Squad Precinct in Best Buy.