Are your photos safe in the event of a natural disaster?

burning houseThe news lately has been full of stories of natural disasters affecting millions of people: fires in California, hurricanes in the northeast or along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and an earthquake in North Carolina.  What all of these have in common is that they could significantly damage our homes.  In addition, when the disaster is approaching, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and to save our belongings, especially our photos.  It is important that our photos are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

When we are confronted with a natural disaster in our homes we try to protect and save what is most precious and important to us – the 3 P’s: people, pets, and photos.  People and pets are portable and are usually easy to evacuate.  But our photos may not be as portable.  If your photos are stored in boxes and bins in closets, basements, or attics or are displayed in photo albums on book shelves then it would be difficult to quickly grab them to get them out of your house and pile them into your vehicle.  However, if your photos have been digitized and stored on an external hard drive or safely in secure cloud storage then they are portable and accessible from anywhere.

Now is the time to think about securing your photos before you are confronted with a disaster.  Here are a few steps to follow to ensure that your photos are portable and safe.

  1. Locate and inventory all your photos

    When you start looking, you may be a bit surprised as to where you have stored your photos and how many you have.  Don’t just look for printed photos, also include slides and videos.  And don’t forget about memorabilia.  All of these items can be digitized.

  2. Sort and organize your photos

    sorting photosThere is no right or wrong way to organize your photos but it is an important thing to do in order to make them easier to access.  If they are already in some sort of chronological order (by decade, year, and month) then try as best you can to maintain that.  Otherwise, you may also want to consider organizing them thematically such as by event, location, holiday, family, kids’ sports, etc.

  3. Digitize your photos

    Digitizing your photo collection ensures that it is preserved, portable and easily accessible.  When digitizing, be sure to maintain the organizing structure that you created when sorting your photos.  Don’t just digitized a pile of photos because then you are left with a digital mess.  If there is writing on the back of the photo that helps to identify the location or people, then it is a good practice to also digitize the back of the photo.
    scanning photos

  4. Backup your photos

    Having your digitized photos in only one location, such as your computer, does not ensure their safety.  When you back them up to multiple locations such as an external hard drive and secure cloud storage, this ensures redundancy and protects them in case one type of media fails.

If you find that doing all of this work to preserve your photos is a bit overwhelming, you might want to consider hiring a professional, such as myself, to help you – a Certified Photo Manager.

Your photos are a precious procession, they reflect the story of your life, so it is important that they are protected and safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Are Your Photos Backed Up?

Are your photos backed up and safe?  Our photos are one of our most precious personal items as they represent all of the special moments in our lives.  Therefore, it is important that we keep them safe.  How would you feel if you lost all of your digital photos?

I recently realized the importance of backing up my photos and documents when one day I couldn’t access any files on my external hard drive (EHD).  This EHD held all my personal document files, business document files and over two decades of personal photos.

I had just completed digitizing all of my late husband’s printed photos and putting them into electronic folders by categories on my EHD.  I had also created collages for his funeral service and stored them on the EHD before sending them to be printed.  Two days later, I plugged the EHD into my computer and the computer would not recognize any of the files on it.  Immediately panic mode set in.  I contacted a computer store near me and asked if they could try to recover the files.

That evening I remembered that I had a Backblaze account.  Backblaze is an automatic cloud backup service.  I have been using this service for the past few years to backup files on my computer and my EHD.  I logged into my account and checked on when the last backup occurred and it was just a few days earlier.  Immediately I initiated the recovery process for the EHD and waited and prayed.  It took several hours for the recovery to complete and then I initiated the download of the recovered files.  That took almost 24 hours.

In the meantime, the computer store told me that they were not able to recover any of the files on my old EHD but that for a lot of money it could be sent out somewhere to try to recover the files.  I decided to wait for the download of the recovered files from Backblaze.

Once the download completed, I opened it up and let out a huge sigh of relief – all of my files and photos were there.  I immediately copied everything to a new EHD.  I have also continued the process to upload all of my photos into my Forever account.

Don’t take a chance on losing all of your files and photos .  You never know when your computer or EHD will crash or when there will be a natural disaster and everything is lost.  I am so grateful that I spent the small amount of money each year on a Backblaze account.

The Photo Managers, the world’s leading educational community supporting the field of photo management, recommends the 3-2-1 backup methodology:  Three copies of your photos and files, stored on two different media or devices, and one copy stored off-site.

  • If you have your originals, either on your computer or an EHD, plus two more copies then you are creating a system with triple redundancy.
  • Having your original files and photos on one device and a copy on a second device or media, allows for immediate access to a backup if one device fails.
  • If you have all copies of your files and photos stored in your home, then they are at an unforeseen risk of something happening to your home such as a natural disaster, flood, fire or theft.  A cloud-based backup or storage solution is a good choice for this third location.

As an example: you can have your files and photos stored on your computer and on an EHD, backed up to a cloud service such as Backblaze, and your photos stored in Forever – a permanent, secure, private, shareable cloud-based storage system.

Don’t be at risk for losing all your precious photo memories and document files.  Setup a backup system that will take the worry out of preserving your memories.