It’s time to backup your photos

Well, you’ve taken loads of nice photos. Excellent. Next, your hard drive fails. Now you have lost them all. Unfortunately, I have heard this too many times before. The key is to backup your photos.

In what seems like another life, I was a Computer Engineer. I’d go to people’s houses and fix their computers. The Hard drive failure story is one I have seen too often. I remember one lady crying because she had lost all her pictures of her baby.

It was heart-rending.

Backup your photos

You need to backup your photos

Backup your photos

There are so many different options to backup your photos, however, even with automated systems, you need to check it’s working ok and doing its job. Firstly, I’ll mention the systems I use.

Some people think that just putting them on an external drive is enough. I’ve met people who take them off the computer and put them on the external drive and think they are backed up.

They are not.

A backup means they are in two places!

You don’t have to be a computer genius to backup your photos, but if you don’t know how to, google it and learn how. It will be worth it if ever the worst happens. If you can’t learn, hire your friendly neighbourhood computer guy to do it for you and show you what to do.

Now you have got the idea, the importance, if you like, of backing up, I’ll mention several places to back them up.


Everyone knows Facebook. Upload your photos there. If you don’t want people to see them mark the album private so only you can see them. Now they are in two places. Your computer and Facebook. That’s a backup.

Amazon Photos

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you have a free service called Amazon Drive. Search for it and download it to your desktop. Follow the instructions and it will back up your photos.

Amazon screenshot


NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. What that means is a hard drive, usually attached to your router, that you can copy your photos to and any other documents. However, this is not a free option, you need to buy the kit. They come in various sizes and flavours, some have two drives in (RAIDed NAS) so if one Hard Drive fails, the other keeps storing your pictures.

Memory Sticks / CD or DVD

Memory Sticks and CDs or DVDs are good for backing up but they do have a finite life. Check them regularly to make sure they are ok. CDs and DVDs suffer from disc rot. While no definitive figures can be given, it depends on disc manufacturer and how it is stored, they don’t last forever.

USB Memory sticks are better but they do have a life too. USB memory sticks have a finite life of write/erase cycles. It’s better to buy a fresh one when storing precious photos, and copy your data to it and put it away safely.

backup your photos

Three stages of copying a file

Saving to a memory stick is easy! Once the USB memory stick is inserted into your PC;

  1. Right click your folder or file you want to backup
  2. Choose the ‘Send to’ option in the box that comes up
  3. Then choose your USB stick

That’s it! Then the computer will copy your chosen file or folder to the USB stick.


USB hard drive

Firstly, it’s important to remember that computer hard drives have a finite life.  Figures suggest after year 4, 20% will have failed. Worryingly, by year 6, the failure rate is quite high, as much as 50%. Hard drive failure rate stats  

USB drives are a great solution but the older the drive, the more chance of failure.

Google Drive/One Drive/Dropbox

These are online services which offer a free bit of storage. Google drive is of course Google. One Drive is Microsoft. Dropbox is another big concern. I list these three as they are big companies and as such shouldn’t go bust and leave you not being able to access your stuff. It’s just a case of downloading them and copying your photos to them

My own solutions are thus.

Facebook, Instagram, Amazon Drive, Dropbox and a RAIDed Nas. 5 places in total. This might seem like overkill but, I think, better safe than sorry.

Conclusions – Back up your photos

Backup! And Backup in at least 2 places! Make sure one of them is online. Check at least once a month that your system is working, or if you are doing it manually, back up EVERY time you add new photos.

Make sure one of your backup methods is online or not at your house. If the computer and backup are stolen, or there is a fire or lightning strike it’s always best to have an ‘off-site backup’.


  • Backup Your Photos
  • Backup to at least 2 places
  • Make sure one of those places is off-site
  • Double check the backup to make sure it’s working

And to leave you on a happy note, The woman I mentioned earlier who lost her baby photos? I managed to get about 90% of them back.

Below is a selection of the actual gear I use. For the full list of equipment I use to take all these photos check out My Travel Camera Bag  

For the full science bit on colour of light see here

For all my tips and tricks see my Photography Tutorials page.

Photography Tutorials

To see all my gear, check out What’s In My Camera Bag.

Definitive Guide to the Basic Essentials


More Photography Tips

Top 10 Photography Tips

How to take Landscape Photographs

How to Photograph Seascapes

Camera settings for Night Photos

How to Blur water

How to Photograph Sunsets and Sunrises

Composition – Learn the rules of composition, then break them.

Shutter Speed – Slow Shutter Speed Tips and how to avoid Camera Shake.

Use a Polarising Filter – Take away reflections and boost colours.

Fooling your camera’s internal light meter is easy! – Bracket your shots.

Light changes dramatically with the time of day! Know what’s best for your shot.

Know Your Camera –  Know where all the buttons are for when the perfect shot comes.

The Depth of Field – What’s in focus in your picture and what’s not.

Backup and Memory Cards – and spread your trip out over them.

Plan your Photographs – Spend time on Google street view getting to know the area.

Take your time  For less time editing – Walk around the subject and try from different angles.

How to Add presets to Lightroom

Click here for my Photography page with all the links on.

Disclaimer: In short, some of the links on this site are affiliate links. These means that if you click on the link and buy the item, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. The money, of course, helps go towards the upkeep of the site – so it’s a win-win for both of us! Any videos used on this site if not my own, are, of course, used within Youtube’s sharing guidelines.

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