It’s happened to all of us – we finally have everyone looking the same way, at the same time and smiling.  The dog is sitting nicely at Grandma’s feet and the scene is picture perfect.  Except you can’t get that picture.  Instead, you get an alert saying your storage is full.  By the time you finish clearing out some space, the children are crying, the dog is eating the turkey, and grandma has fallen asleep.

5 Great Ways to Store and Protect Your Digital PicturesDon’t let this happen to you!  Follow these helpful hints to make sure you always have enough storage to take the picture and then preserve that moment forever.

Best Practices to Protect and Store Digital Photos

* Store your digital images in several locations (hard drive, cloud, etc.) to ensure that they are always around even if something catastrophic happens.

* Print out your pictures!  By printing out your favorite shots, you’re sure to have access to them (plus, it’s an inexpensive way to decorate your home).  Photo albums, pillows, coffee mugs, and calendars are some of the amazing ways you can display and enjoy your favorites.

* Back up your pictures once a week.  If you just took photos at an important event, back them up as soon as you get home.  I connect my phone or camera to the computer to upload and store the images while I unpack.

* A typical digital image of 5 megapixels takes up about 1.5 megabytes.  More megapixels increases the quality of the image, but also increases the amount of storage space it will need.

Tip 1 – Storing Photos with a Flash USB Drive

Flash drives are one of the simplest ways to keep your photos safe.  Since they vary in storage space, you can dedicate one drive to a specific event, or (for a bit more money) store a whole year’s worth of digital photos on a single drive.  A 16 GB drive costs about $10-$15, and a 2TB drive is more than $100.

Pros:    Generally inexpensive, portable, convenient

Cons:   Can’t label them, easy to lose, easy to erase

Tip 2 – Storing Photos with Web-based Storage

Web-based storage systems are easy to get and use.  Dropbox, for instance, offers users 2 GB, iCloud offers 5GB, and Google Drive has a whopping 15 GB of storage for your digital pics.

Pros:    Accessible from anywhere, most are free (to a point), have a lot of space

Cons:   Storage is limited, but you can purchase more.

Tip 3 – Storing Photos with a CD or DVD

These are great options since a standard CD can hold approximately 125 digital pictures and a DVD can store almost 750 – almost an entire year’s worth of events!  Using a CD or DVD with the “R” designation will protect your digital images from ever being deleted.

Pros:    Inexpensive, easy to use, protects images from deletion

Cons:   Many computers are doing away with DVD drives, so you might not be able to access your pics from a newer computer.  They are also easy to accidentally destroy.

Tip 4 – Storing Photos with Web-based Photo Sharing Apps

Programs like Flickr, Snapfish, and Shutterfly, to name a few, are wonderful ways to share and store your pictures.  Flickr offers 1TB (that’s almost half a million pictures!), Snapfish offers unlimited storage if you make a purchase every 365 days, and Shutterfly offers unlimited storage with no catch.  Most of these programs also help you create beautiful projects like books and gifts.

Pros:    Most are free and available on a multitude of platforms (SmartPhone apps, computer login, tablets).  You can easily share entire albums with others.

Cons:   If the company goes out of business, you’re out your photos.

Tip 5 – Storing Photos on a Hard Drive

You can store your photos on your computer’s hard drive or purchase an external hard drive.

Pros:    Tons of storage space, easy to use.

Cons:   A new computer means transferring and re-uploading files.  If the computer breaks, there are few ways to retrieve the lost photos. External hard drives could run from $50-$150.  Photos are only stored locally.