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Storing Digital Photos

A reader writes…

Help! I’ve been taking all your digital photography advice, and now I have a TON of photos on my hard drive. I am running out of room and I’m thinking about putting all my images on CD and wiping them off the hard drive. Is this a good idea or is there a better way?

I’ve got one word for you – SCRATCH!

Personally, if I had a lot of images I wanted to keep safe, a CD would not be my first and only solution. The trouble with CDs is one good scratch can take out every image on your disk. In addition, CD-R/RWs may not be as archival as was first thought. There have been a lot of instances reported where the information on the disk was lost over time. I’ve never had it happen (I’m knocking on wood now), but I won’t take the chance either.

So, if your pictures are starting to overrun your drive, I’d look into a second internal hard drive or, better yet, an external USB hard drive (that’s what I use).

External USB hard drives hold gigs of data, are coming down in price, are way faster than burning to CD, and tend to be more reliable. Plus, you can plug the drive in, edit your photos, and resave since it acts like a regular drive.

That said, I would not place my photos exclusively on a second drive (or even my main hard drive) without a good external backup. That’s where your CDs come in. Back up your images onto CD, then store them in a cool, dark, dry, and safe location. I’d also re-backup everything at least once a year, just cuz I’m paranoid.