Home / Archiving Digital Photography (Part 9) Storing images on your hard drive – You must be crazy

Archiving Digital Photography (Part 9) Storing images on your hard drive – You must be crazy

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Well, I guess I may have just put this solution to rest without typing more than one sentence in my title but I know some of you reading this may be curious as to why I’m calling you crazy, insane and loony. Ok, I have a few more choice words too but let’s get on to the scoop regarding saving your images on your internal hard drive.

The problems that surround storing information on your computer are pretty simple, they’re vulnerable to almost all of the offending problems that we face when trying to store digital media. Those problems include: permanence, reliability, portability, the ability to duplicate, system software malfunctions, external factors like electrical surges, fires, children, file eating viruses and your computer illiterate spouse just to name a few. With one quick power-surge from a thunderstorm your hard drive could be toast. With one flick of the delete button your files could be trashed. With one small malfunction, your hard drive could simply just die. There have even been extreme cases where computers burst into flame because they become over heated!

Even from this short list my message should be clear that your hard drive is meant for temporary storage only. It’s very simple — Never, ever, ever leave your precious memories and creations on your hard drive for more than a few days without backing them up in some way. As in real life, death may just be around the corner. We all will probably live to see another day and it’s a good bet that our computers will too but eventually the day will come for all of us when our computer dies. It’s only common sense to go beyond storing your images on your local hard drive.

As I stated earlier, I was once among the trusting. I believed in technology. I thought that I would be safe from catastrophe and eventually my day came. I woke up one day and my hard drive was clicking and I couldn’t start up my computer! I tried almost everything for two days until I reluctantly admitted defeat and took my computer in for service. Imagine yourself getting the news that your hard drive was fried, your images were lost and the only remote possibility was to find a duplicate working hard drive for parts. To date, they have been unable to locate a replacement and it’s pretty safe to say that my images are gone unless I want to spend a bunch of money with another recovery company. This is my whole purpose for writing this series. To save you from my disappointment, anger and loss. If you save your images to your hard drive I am sad to say that your day will come. The day that your son or daughters first birthday images or that image that a client wants to pay $5000 for is just gone. Gone because you had faith in computer technology. Gone because you were too busy, too cheap, or just simply too lazy to back up your files somewhere other than your local hard drive.

Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t have any problem with your hard drive being a part of your back up plan. I use my hard drive as my first source for storing my images but I duplicate those files on a daily basis. I hardly ever go a day without duplicating all of my new images to some sort of back-up solution. Just remember to properly protect your computer by performing regular maintenance and by trying to stop attacks and disasters before they happen. Below you will find a quick list of things that you should do on a regular basis to protect your hard drive.

Back up your files, scan your hard disk, create an emergency start-up disk, de-fragment your hard drive, check for viruses by installing reliable virus software, Keep your virus definitions updated, manage your hard drive space, clean the exterior of your computer and the surrounding area, work in an uncluttered space, Keep food and drink away from your computer, protect your computer from power surges by using surge protectors and unplugging your computer during storms and use an uninterruptible power supply if possible.

If you’re not familiar with some of the items mentioned above please do yourself a favor and do some research. In-depth coverage of these issues are beyond the scope of this series but they’re an equally important aspect of your back up strategy. A simple web search will give you more information than you could ever want, so spend the time and educate yourself. Especially if you plan on using your main computer hard drive for storage. Items like scanning for viruses are incredibly important because they can easily spread to connected devices, disable the drive and delete files. If you plan on using an external hard drive to back up your files and it’s connected to your main computer or on a network that’s connected to the internet, all of your files could be contaminated or erased by an invading virus. So do some research on virus software because it’s vitally important. Some good software packages to check out are Norton Antivirus, Virex, McAfee, and Avast.

To sum up, If you learn anything from reading or even skimming these articles, get with the program now and take my advice, NEVER rely on your hard drive as your only backup solution. Your first big lesson is to learn that you must be crazy if you store your images on your hard drive.

For more on preserving digital photography visit ArchivingDigital.com

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About Yensid

  • Point well made and taken.

    What do you think of the idea of using services like gmail or flickr as storage?

    I recently was invited in to gmail and after i had used it for a few days, i was granted the right to invite up to 50 more users. But so far the biggest beneficiary has been me as i have now got 3 accounts and plan to use them as archive systems for various projects…

  • Shiiiiiiiiiiiit, this is the real horror story among us. I;m sweating at the thought of it all.

    It used to be your house burning down that people were warned against. Now it’s something much more likely – your computer going TU.

    Yahoo has started offering 1GB, too I would have even less faith in Google or Yahoo as long-term stotrage areas. Their little glitches don’t get noticed for months and yet, could still wipe out a couple thousand people at a time.

    My route, when I get there, two maybe three backup CD copies.

    Good series BTW Yensid. Pretty damn valuable.

  • Yeah, I would agree for sure. Feel free to store low resolution copies online for your enjoyment but we’re talking about storing actual photo quality files. Some can be many, many megs in size. 1-3 gigs won’t get you very far with that kind of file size. Go back and read some of my earlier posts on this subject or pay attention to future posts. Temple, good call on the 3 cds… I would suggest storing one off site and also keeping copies on a hard drive if possible. Anyway, i’ll be addressing the issue of storing on CD in my next post. Thanks for the compliment, it’s appreciated!