Thursday, May 13, 2010

Photo Thursdays - File Management

Digital cameras are the greatest thing to happen to photography. They are also probably the worst thing to happen to computers. I know that sound pessimistic, but there's some truth to it.

Digital cameras brought about a change in photographic philosophy. With film cameras, photography was an expensive hobby and/or profession. Not only was the camera an investment, but you were constantly purchasing film and then having to pay for prints to be made. Every time you snapped the shutter, it cost you money. Granted, it wasn't too horrible, but we all know it's impossible to make every shot perfect and worth the money it cost. The result of all this was photographers were more cautious before taking a picture.

Today, that's all changed. The only real investment for digital cameras are the camera itself - which, granted, can be large - and a digital media card, which have come down dramatically in price. Sure, you still have to pay for printing, but now there is a wide array of options, including online sources, that are all competing to give you your prints for next to nothing. Plus, with a digital picture, you never even have to order a picture. It's all on your computer! Today's philosophy is to shoot first, download later.

And that's where the problem starts. Most people that use a digital camera are well aware of how easily they can download their pictures from their camera to their computer. It's all super easy and takes minimal time. What many people are not aware of is the potential problems that come from this procedure.

Most digital cameras today produce pictures that range anywhere from 1MB to 8MB in size. That's per picture. 1MB doesn't sound like a lot, but think of how many pictures you shoot on one vacation. 100? Easily. That's 100MB, at the low end. That's 1/10 of a Gigabyte (1,024 MB = 1GB). Depending on how old your computer is, you likely have in excess of 100GB on your computer. That's a lot of storage space. But as soon as you start throwing on every picture you have ever taken and then add some videos of your darling children doing goofy things, soon your 100GB will be whittled away.

Well, so what? It might mean nothing to you. Perhaps that's all you want from your computer, but there are other implications. For starters, the more files you have on your computer - and every picture is its own file - the longer it takes for your computer to search through all your files. Also, when your virus scanning software does its thing, it's going to take longer all the time because it will go through every single one of your pictures.

So do you get rid of your photos? Heck, no! That's photography blasphemy. What do you do then?

The answer lies in the next major problem with digital photography: backup. It's already been stated how much space all these photos take up. How are you going to back them up? Are you going to print them all? That's a lot of money, and truly defeats much of the beauty of digital cameras. Plus, it's not much of a backup because prints will decay over time.

There are multiple backup solutions, but unfortunately all are pretty temporary. The easiest, is a CD or DVD. However, even a DVD will only hold 4.7GB and a CD less than 1GB. One big problem with these forms of backup are they don't last that long. Most estimates give CDs and DVDs a life of somewhere between 5 to 10 years. That's a pain to have to back those up that often.

The next solution is to use an external hard drive. These are amazingly affordable and provide an opportunity to dramatically expand your storage capacity. I love my external hard drive and want more (yes, I've already filled it up). The down side with this backup is it can still be corrupted, get viruses or accidentally delete your files. Plus, like all hardware, it will only last so long before it's either obsolete or doesn't function anymore.

So what's the solution? I wish there was a golden answer, but more and more I'm leaning toward backing up my photos online. There are scores of photo websites out there, most of them good. Some are free services, others are paid. Both types have advantages. Go check them out. The most important things to look for are how much storage space they will give you and if you can download or purchase them again.

My personal favorite is Shutterfly.

I've been a long-time fan and they've rewarded me many times over for my loyalty. They provide unlimited photo storage space. That's right, UNLIMITED. That means, if something ever happens to your computer, you don't lose all your memories because they're backed up. Yes, you would have to purchase them on archival DVDs, but the price is affordable and it's better than losing everything. Plus, if you do want to print photos, they are already uploaded and Shutterfly has incredible print quality and great products.

Whatever you decide to do, please back up your photos. Take care of your memories. Also, to conserve space, please review your photos after you upload them. Delete the blurry photos (nobody wants to see them anyway) and duplicates. This will cut down on your storage use and leave you with the pictures you really want to see. So, keep snapping away and enjoy your memories.


Jenny said...

Great post! We have external hard drives, but the problem is that once they are on the hard drive I am not likely to see them again! But at least they're there. I like the Shutterfly idea!

Following along from Friday Follow! See you at the Southern Institute!

Denise said...

Stopping by from Friday Follow to say Hi!

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Leetid said...

Coming over from Friday Follow to say Hi!

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

I was going to invest in an external hard drive but you scared me with the idea that they can get viruses and delete themselves. I think I may upload them all online. That's a good idea!

Lillian Juda Leonard-Beach said...

Stopping by from FF. I invite you to visit mine, only 25 more follows till I reach 100! If I get to 100 this weekend I'll hold my first giveaway!

Christy said...

Following now from Friday Follow! Your recipes are right up my alley when it comes to cooking, or in particular, eating....
Swing by any time!