Now What: Safely Storing Digital Photos

By Diane Haddad Premium

Q. We received this question on Twitter: I’m looking for ideas on storing lots of photos other than on a computer or flash drive … any suggestions?

A. It’s important to keep copies of your digital photos in different places in case a disaster destroys one set of images. So use multiple storage methods and give copies to family members. Here are some non-computer, non-flash drive storage options:

  • Online: This is a great option because you can retrieve photos no matter where you are. Many online storage options exist, a few being Flickr, Google Drive, Backblaze, ThisLife or Some sites have limited free storage, with fees for additional storage and enhanced features.
Make sure you review the usage agreement for any space limitations and to find out how long your photos remain stored (some sites may require you to log in every so often or make an occasional photo gift purchase).
  • External hard drive: These portable devices cost $100 to $200, give or take. Make sure yours is compatible with any new computer you get before you get rid of the old computer.

Now for a few things to consider when choosing a digital photo storage method:

  • Be vigilant about transferring images to new media so they won’t be trapped on media that computers no longer will read.
  • Keep any CDs, DVDs and other storage media in a living area of your home, away from sunlight and high humidity.
  • Make prints of your favorite images on high-quality photo paper. No one can say for sure how long digital images will last without degrading.
  • Make sure you store high-resolution versions of your photos (scanned or taken at 600 dots per inch or better).
  • A TIF file format is best for long-term storage, but TIFs take up the most space, so you might store JPGs online, say, and TIFs on an external hard drive. Or if you don’t have the space for TIFs of everything, earmark some special images for TIF storage on your computer.

Learn the best ways to organize and archive your digital family photos and documents in the new book How to Archive Family Photos by Family Curator Denise Levenick, now available for pre-order in Family Tree Shop.