Dear Lifehacker, I recently had a hard drive fail which contained lots of family photos which hadn't been backed up anywhere. After days of trying to get my photos back, I was successful, though they were all in an unsorted heap and I had to undertake the painstaking task of resorting them into photos again.
I use Dropbox to backup all my documents, but due to being a free user I have limited space and it would not fit my photos. Is there anywhere in the cloud in which I can store them? I see Flickr offers 1TB of photo storage, would this be a reliable backup? Thanks, Picture Perfect
Burned hard drive picture from Shutterstock
You have had an extremely lucky escape. A failed hard drive can easily mean that your pictures are never going to come back, or that you’ll need to spend potentially large sums on paying experts to restore your data. This is worth noting because it demonstrates the importance of two key principles:
- Stuff that you can’t replace (such as photos) should be backed up in more than one way.
- Photos are so valuable that you shouldn’t automatically say “I have to do this for free”.
So before we even get into cloud backup, I’d suggest this: acquire another external hard drive and perform a backup immediately. Then make a habit of augmenting that backup regularly. External storage is so dirt-cheap that there’s no reason not to do this.
On to the question of online backup. Yes, Flickr offers 1TB for free, which is more space than any of the other major players. As such, it’s definitely a useful potential backup source.
Bear in mind that by default Flickr makes all photos viewable in public. If you don’t want all your relatives made available to the entire web, then make sure you change the default value for uploads in your settings to ‘Private’.
The biggest challenge with Flickr is that it doesn’t provide a method for automating backup of your photo collection as you add new ones. It is possible to achieve that to some extent using automation tools such as IFTTT.
If that seems too fiddly, then give some thought to paying for extra storage in Dropbox or another cloud service. Better to pay a little for completely automated backup now than regretting your cheapness later.
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