All backups are important but the loss of photos is probably the most painful way to learn the back up lesson. For many of us, CD-Rs were considered a great way to ensure the longevity of our images. But if you've been relying on CD-R disks to preserve your digital memories, it's time to consider Plan B. These disks simply don't last forever.
A recent story at The Verge looks at a stash of disks containing images shot by a first responder following the attacks on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. It's been less than 20 years since those photos were shot and stored. Now, many of them are lost.
We've covered the topic of backups many times before. Usually, we focus on the importance of establishing a routine that ensures your data is protected and recoverable. But the media you use for your backups is really important. While the likelihood of wanting to access a ten-year old Word document is low, photos are a different matter. I still look back on physical pictures my dad stored for me in photo albums.
Given there seems to be a day or week to celebrate or commemorate just about everything, it's not surprising that there's an annual event to remember and focus on backing up our critical data. That day is 31 March and it falls this Sunday. This seems like a good time to make sure you don't forget to get your backup ducks lined up.
My sister is into genealogy and has been able to source physical photos that have been copied and set to her from family members all over the world. Many of those photos are decades old.
And while the digital age makes it easy to take photos and share them online, it's important to note that Facebook, Instagram or whatever other photo-sharing tools you use are not an effective backup strategy.
I'm leaning towards hard drives as the main backup device, alongside a cloud service. And I'd factor in purchasing a new backup drive every few years and moving my photo backup to a new disk, just in case. There's an old saying that there are two two types of hard drive; those that have failed and those that will fail. Although modern drives are pretty reliable, I think a regular replacement strategy is a good idea.
With cloud services, look for something that is a real backup solution, Not a sync and share service like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.
I once lost a three-month window of photos I took of my kids as I was complacent about my backups. It's not a mistake I care to repeat.