Photo Storage

Backing up Digital Photos

Don’t let the photos that tell the story of your life be lost. Read for tips on backing up your digital photos to keep them safe!

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I’ll talk about why you should print your photos in another post, but let’s talk about the importance of backing up digital photos.

If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds of pictures piling up on your phone from this year alone. We’ve all got the screenshots you’ll never look at again (*raises hand*), but you probably also have pictures of really important moments in your life.

Have you ever lost something that was pretty important to you? Maybe you’ve lost your wallet before. It is a complete pain to replace your cards and change your account numbers, right? Or perhaps you left your favorite pair of sunglasses at a restaurant on vacation – it’s never the cheap ones, either.

Some things we can’t replace, like heirloom jewelry or handwritten recipes from your great grandmother. You know what else you can’t replace?


Back up your photos to multiple external hard drives.

Hard drives can fail – having multiple copies is your failsafe!

Back in 2019, I lost a few months worth of pictures (and I take lots of pictures) to a failed external hard drive. My phone photos back up to the cloud automatically, but I take a lot of photos with my Nikon of my daily life, too.

At the time, I didn’t have an internal hard drive on my computer large enough to hold all of my photos, so I used an external USB hard drive. It took a small dive off the side of the computer to the floor one day, and I didn’t think much of it since it was such a short fall.

I was so wrong. I knew it was bad when I opened the folder from my computer and heard this awful clicking noise as the drive tried to spin.

Backing up your digital photos reduced the risk of a total loss.

Hours were spent scouring the depths of Google for a solution. I was willing to see if I could fix it myself. Was there any sort of tool I could buy? I probably would have jumped on any mention of magic fairy dust to sprinkle on it. . .

The point being, I was desperate.

I ugly cried when I finally admitted I couldn’t access that drive.

With a clearer head, I could research how to fix it. It was a crazy amount of money to try to have it repaired by some companies. Sadly, the one I could afford sending it to was unable to fix it.

And so it sits, in a box on a shelf in my office. I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

Ultimately, it was only a few months worth of photos. I had been copying everything to a second hard drive, but was doing so manually and hadn’t done it recently. This chunk of time included mostly pictures of my son form 4-6 months old. I had been taking daily photos to put together in an album of his first year of life like I made for my daughter.

Thankfully, I was able to piece together pictures from my phone backup for his album (because I took an absurd amount of photos on my phone). Even still, I cringe when I think about what happened. It could have been so much more devastating if I didn’t have anything backed up to another hard drive.

Backing up your photos to one or more external hard drives will significantly reduce the risk of losing important memories.
(peep my daughter’s cute little camera! Fun fact – it has a higher megapixel resolution than my first DSLR did….crazy!)

You simply need to back up your digital photos – PERIOD.

If you just use your phone for pictures, make sure you are backing them up to a cloud service, or you are copying them to an external hard drive or your computer at least once a month. Even if you’re not using a second camera that isn’t linked to the cloud at all times to take pictures, I highly recommend having a second (or even third!) copy on an external drive that gets updated frequently.

And then store that drive in a fire safe…

How I approach backing up digital photos:

  • Originals are stored on my desktop computer
  • Phone photos are backed up to my Google account continuously, and once a month I copy them onto my computer (which then gets copied to the external drives)
  • One external hard drive is set up to mirror the files on my desktop computer continuously
  • A 2nd external drive is used to make a backup copy of all of my photos at least monthly + every time I finish editing a session – that’s 3 total copies I have of all my photos at all times!

Never (knock on wood) will I be the victim of a failed hard drive without a backup again! I hope you never have this happen to you, but I encourage you to take the time to create a backup copy of your precious memories – you won’t regret it.

As an aside: this is your sign to delete the screen shots on your phone. Seriously – just do it. You aren’t going to look at them and they’re just taking up real estate!


Click the link below to book a photographer that will probably still have copies of your images in 10 years… 🙂

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Also on the blog:

Why I feel so strongly about having photos printed

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Ashley Morrisey

Tacoma-based lifestyle newborn and family photographer serving South Puget Sound + greater PNW


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