If you are part of a generation that did not grow up in the new digital age, you probably remember the stress and the hassle of collecting physical photos. You would have to take the film to photoshop and pay a premium to have your photos developed. Then you would have to buy a photo album and spend hours deciding which ones to keep and which ones to throw away and what images you wanted front and center in your albums.
Digital cameras changed all of that. Now you can buy a camera that can hold thousands of photos. And it is extremely easy, simple, and safe to keep your photos stored online and offline.
In this article, we are going to discuss the best way to store digital photos long term and teach you the knowledge to begin storing your digital photos successfully.
A digital photo is a photo that has been taken by a camera device or camera phone that is then stored digitally inside the camera on a memory card.
The invention of the camera phone brought photography into the mainstream. Humans now take more photos than ever before. I bet your phone has thousands of them.
Due to their nature, digital photos can be stored electronically with ease. This means that your photos are all organized in one location. You don't have to worry about misplacing a physical photo or damaging them, and they are all there.
You might be asking, "Where should I store my digital photos"?
Well, there are three methods that you could choose from.
Best Ways to Store Digital Photos
1. The Easy Method - External Hard Drive
The easiest method to store large amounts of photos, especially if they have been taken on a high-end camera and have large files, is to store them on an external hard drive.
An external hard drive will usually be around the same size as a calculator. They have essentially overhauled USB sticks. They can hold vast amounts of data. Once plugged in, they will act as a folder on your computer. You can drag and drop anything from your pc into that store, and when you disconnect, it will be left on the hard drive.
One of the best things about external hard drives is that they have become relatively cheap. You can easily buy a 2TB external HDD for under $50. That 2TB would hold more photos than you could probably take in a lifetime.
Once they are on the hard drive, you can manipulate the folders and organize things however you want so that they are easy to access. You could have a file for "Grandchildren" or "Holiday Photos." When you have a lot of photos, this can make it a lot easier when you want to find that specific one.
Most good external hard drives need to be plugged into both the power and the computer to work; this is one of the only downsides to this method. The other is the worry that you could lose the entire drive and lose everything.
Luckily, there are ways to secure your photos in both the physical and digital world.
2. The Cheapest/Quickest Method - Portable Storage
If you have a smaller amount of photos to store (under 50GB), you could look into a portable storage device. These devices are usually a lot cheaper and a lot smaller in size. A common form of cheap storage is the USB Flash drive. These cost pennies nowadays and can have storage ranging from 1GB-256GB.
For most people, a good 32GB USB stick should be more than enough for their collections.
These storage types usually slot into your computer's USB port opening their contents and allowing you to copy it, delete it, move it across, and more.
This kind of storage has some drawbacks too. Firstly, the security installed into cheaper flash drives is a lot lower than a proper external hard drive.
Due to their size, they are also extremely easy to steal, misplace or destroy. This could make them a poor choice for someone who wants to store priceless pictures.
They do make a great way to free up your phone, though. If you have gotten to the point that your phone is telling you you have no storage, transferring all your photos to a USB could be a smart idea.
If you have high-quality images and videos and want to store them on a portable storage device, you could also look into Blu-Ray discs. This is one of the best ways to store photos in a way that looks amazing when played back.
3. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is the new age solution to the problem. By storing your photos in the cloud, you can have access at any time and a sturdy, secure place where they will never be touched or accidentally lost.
"The Cloud" is essentially internet access to a storage center somewhere on the planet. These are high-end military spec servers with the best protection available.
To get cloud storage, you will need to set up an account with one of the big providers. OneCloud and GDrive are both great programs that are simple to set up and even offer free accounts with limited storage.
This is the perfect way for you to learn how to use them. Sign up for the free account, and then, once you are more used to the system, you can upgrade for more space.
Then there is the feature that we think is the most important—the "Auto-Backup." Once you set this function up, your devices will periodically backup your photos and files to the internet, usually when you enter your home wifi.
This removes the need to decide what photos you want to keep physically. All of them will be uploaded automatically so that you can sort through them at any point.
What Is The Safest Way To Store Digital Photos?
If you listen to any advice today, let it be this.
The best way to ensure that your photos survive the ages is to combine the above methods. Don't just rely on the cloud or your external hard drive. Once every couple of months, back up an external hard drive with the photos you love from your cloud storage.
Things can and do often go wrong in the tech space. If, for some reason, your cloud storage provider has a problem, think how glad you will be to have the backup.
Tips For Organizing Your Photos
One Focal Point
The first tip is to get all of your photos, including the physical ones, into a single digital place. This means you will need to scan your physical photos.
If you have a USB drive or an External Hard Drive, this is the ideal location, even if you are moving to cloud storage. Simply plug your hard drive in and any other sources and drag all of the photos into the External Hard Drive. If it's possible, have an empty hard drive, to begin with, to make things easier.
Your next job is to organize. While you may have a method that you think will work, let us spare you the time and the stress. The best way to organize large amounts of photos in a single location is with photo organization software.
Software like Google Photos oar Mylio offers some great tools to aid you in your organizational war.
You will quickly be able to sort all of your photos by things like "date" or even by using a person's name if the algorithm is good enough to pick it up.
Once it is a more organized state, it's time to do the trimming. Most people take 100 photos and keep 10. Make your way through all of your photos, deleting the ones you don't want to keep. If you are on the fence, you should delete it.
Now your photo storage is only full of photos that you want to keep, and you can make your way through them, renaming them and allocating them tags. For every photo of children/babies, add the tag "Children/Babies," then you should also add a tag for each baby's name. In family photos, give everyone a tag as well as the tag "Family Photo."
Yes, we know that will take a long time, but the rewards make it worth it. Whenever you want to see pictures of the family, you have them all in that "Family Photo" tag. Your grandson's birthday? Want to find a funny picture of him? Luckily, you tagged him in that photo where he was dressed like a princess!
How to Create a Solid Backup Strategy for Your Photos
You should now have a nice neat, organized photo library saved in both the cloud and on a physical device. I know it probably took a long time but isn't it worth it?
This is where it is important for you to maintain your photo collections regularly. Once a month should do it. By taking an hour out of your day once a month to keep on top of any new photos, you stop it from becoming a stressful 2-day event.
One way to make this more manageable when taking your photos by smartphone is to tag people into the photo on the actual phone. This will add a tag of their name to the file that will be picked up by the organization programs we mentioned earlier.
Another thing you should keep an eye on is the condition of your physical storage devices. Your external hard drives, for example, need to be kept in a cool place away from any strong heat sources. This will stop them from running into problems that will result in a loss of all your data.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How are digital photos stored?
Digital photos are stored in devices called storage or in the cloud.
How to digitally store old photos?
First, you must digitize them. If you want to learn how to do this, head to our article on the best way to scan photos.
How to store digital photos without a computer?
If you go into a photo shop or find a friend with a scanner, they will be able to digitize your photos and put them on a memory stick that you can keep safe.
Remember, even though we have moved away from physical photos, they were the kings for a long time. So much so that even in modern-day times, printing a photo and keeping it physically secure is still a viable option. Physical photos are often more treasured, and as long as you keep them out of harm's way, they cannot be ruined by an electrical problem.
After reading this article, I'm sure you have some serious sorting to do. Although it seems like a big task right now, don't worry; it doesn't have to be done overnight. Remember, these are your treasured memories, so take all the time in the world.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.