Back up your photos, easy as 3, 2, 1!

How many pictures do you have on your computer? How important are they to you? Do you have them backed up? We live in a world of iPhones and digital cameras. The odds are great you have more photos on your computer than you do in photo albums at home.

How devastated would you be if your computer crashed and you lost them all? Your photos need to be safe and the only way to keep them secure is to have more than one copy! Here are some basic (and easy) steps you can take to guarantee your photos are secure when your computer (or phone) eventually fails.

I first heard about this backup philosophy on the Tech Guy show with Leo Laporte. It’s called, “3, 2, 1 Back Up.”  It breaks down like this:

  • You need 3 backup copies of every photo you own.
  • Of those three copies, you need 2 different kinds of storage devices.
  • And 1 of those storage devices needs to be off-site (out of your house).

Here are the three steps you can take in more detail. If you have any questions, please ask me!

You need at least 3 backup copies of every photo you own. – Let’s say you have 10,000 photos. The photos you have on your computer are your originals. This is your first copy. Now you need to back up these photos two more times with at least two different kinds of devices.

You need 2 different kinds of storage devices –  Your next two copies can be any of the following:

  1. DVD’s – Most DVD’s you can buy will give you a little under 5 GB of space to store your photos. Read some important advice on what to do after you burn them.
  2. SD Cards – You can get a 16 GB SD Card for as little as $30.00. A couple of these depending on the size of your photo collection should do the trick. Lock the card after you are finished by clicking the little lever on the side down (see picture).
  3. External Hard Drives – You should get an external hard drive as big as your entire computer hard drive. This way you can back up the entire computer and as well as your photos. If you have a Mac, use an external hard drive with Apple’s built-in Time Machine.
  4. Full Online Backups – There are a number of companies that will back up your entire computer via your internet connection. For a very low cost, these companions will securely upload your entire computer to their location and give you remote access to all of your personal data. I use, it costs $5.00 a month. You can also try: MozyCarbonite, iDrive, or Cashplan.
  5. Online Storage – Here are websites that will give you a limited number of free storage:
  • Picasa – Google’s photo service will give you 1 GB of free space. You can also upgrade for more space at a decent price ($5.00 for 20 GB per year).
  • Drop Box – Dropbox gives you 2.50 GB of free storage. And lets you sync wonderfully between multiple computers, iPods, iPads, iPhones, Blackberry, etc.
  • – 1 GB of free storage.
  • Microsoft Sky Drive – They will give you 25 GB of free online storage.  This is a great deal, but you have to deal with the ugly Microsoft interface.
  • Flickr – A free Flickr account will give you 100MB worth of photos each calendar month. Or you can upgrade to a Flickr Pro account for around $25.00 a month for unlimited uploads of photos.
  • SmugMug – SmugMug is what professional photospheres use. You can try it free for two weeks, after that you can get an unlimited account for around $40.00 a year.
  • Backupify – Everyone should have a backupify account. They are free and will let you back up a number of services you already use! For 2 GB, they will back up your Picasa photos, Twitter updates, Gmail, Facebook account, and more!
  • Photo Printing Sites – You can use Shutterfly or Snapfish to store your photos! Creating these accounts are free and will allow you to upload all of your pictures at full quality! The only way to recover these photos after you upload them are to order the physical pictures from them for as low as $0.09 a picture.  I can’t recommend this enough. I use Shutterfly, and my sister uses Snapfish and we are both very happy with the service. If you allow them to, they will send you coupons in your email for free, or discounted pictures! Take advantage of this and finally start placing your digital photos into physical albums. HINTS: If you are on a Mac you can use iPhoto Uploaders for Shutterfly or Snapfish.

1 of those storage devices needs to be off-site. – It’s extremely important that one of your copies are somewhere other than your house. What if you have a catastrophic event at your home? A flood, fire, or theft could wipe out everything you have at one time! If one of your backup copies are offsite this gives you that added layer of protection everyone needs.  This can be accomplished one of a number of ways.

  1. Use one of the Full Online Backup services above like Backblaze.
  2. Burn your photos on DVDs and take them to your work. Or you can place them at a trusted friend or relatives house.

In summary, using the 3, 2, 1 back-up philosophy will keep your photos safe!

  • You need 3 backup copies of every photo you own.
  • Of those three copies, you need 2 different kinds of storage devices.
  • And 1 of those storage devices needs to be off-site (out of your house).

Let me tell you what I personally do and that may help you save your photos.

  • (3) I have more than three backups: (1) My photos in iPhoto. These are my originals. (2) All of my photos are backed-up via DVDs (3) My entire computer is backed up via (4) All of my photos are on
  • (2) The two different kinds of storage devices are (a) DVDs and (b) Shutterfly.
  • (1) My offsite copy is

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