Client Guides

January 26, 2022

How to Store Digital Photos | Advice from a Portrait Photographer

how to store digital photos

As much as we all love digital photos, there are a few extra steps you need to take to make sure they stay safe. Since you can’t physically hold onto them, you need to know exactly where they are located in the digital world. Something as simple as dropping a hard drive, updating technology, or replacing your computer could erase them permanently. And I know you want to hold onto these memories forever!

Luckily, there are just five easy steps to make sure all of your photos are safe and sound whenever you want to view them. Here’s how to back up your digital photos in five easy steps.

Step One: Download Your Full Gallery

The first step is to make sure you download your entire gallery immediately when you receive it. This ensures you have a copy of every single photo right away on your own computer. Even though the gallery stays up for a while, don’t wait to complete this step. Life always gets busy, so it’s easier to get it done right away!


Step two: Back-Up All the Photos on an External Hard Drive

I highly recommend the LaCie Rugged Mini, but you could also choose a different brand. You can find many options on Amazon. The most important part is having all the photos in a separate location, just in case anything happens to your computer or you purchase a new computer in the future.

When you have your external hard drive connected to your computer, simply create a new folder and copy all of the photos there. It’s important to make sure you’re copying and not just moving the photos over, so double-check to make sure you have all the photos in both locations as you’re completing this step.


Step three: Store the Photos on a USB or 2nd External Hard Drive

This might seem like overkill, but I promise you can’t be too careful with your memories. All it takes is one crashed computer or a corrupt or lost external hard drive or a natural disaster, and you could lose your photos in an instant. By placing your photos in several different locations, you decrease the chances of something happening to all of the copies.

If you already have a more expensive external hard drive like the LaCie Rugged Mini I mentioned above, you might find using a USB or cheaper hard drive is more economical.

Once you place an additional copy on this one, I recommend storing it somewhere off-site. That way, if there is a fire or flood in your home that destroys both your computer and your first external hard drive, you’ll still have all your photos somewhere else.

Just make sure you have a designated place off-site so they don’t get lost in the future!


Step four: Use the cloud for additional back-up

This is such an important step, especially when it’s so easy to find cloud storage these days. If anything happens to the other three backup locations, you’ll sleep easy knowing your photos can be downloaded from here!

Here are a few options:

Having cloud storage can also be a way to back up your entire computer (if you use something like Backblaze or Crashplan) so if anything happens, you can easily restore it.


Step five: Print Your Photos

This is one of the best ways to continuously enjoy your photos! Whether your print a couple of your favorites and put them in frames, order beautiful wall art or invest in an heirloom album, physically holding your photos is a completely different experience than seeing them on a screen.

It’s also reassuring knowing that even if technology changes, you’ll still be able to touch and see your photos. For example, what if the file names switch in the future, and your computer can no longer read .jpgs? What if you put everything on a USB, but in a decade the new computers don’t have USB ports or converters? Or what if the USB dies before you remember to move everything to a new one?

And I know we all rely on social media so much as an archive of our lives, but what if that changes too? If Facebook or Instagram disappeared tomorrow, would you still have all those photos saved somewhere? Or would your memories disappear with it?

Like everything in life, there are so many unknowns.

This is why it’s extra important to back up your photos in several different places, both digitally and physically. The more places your photos exist, the better chance you’ll be able to view them 30 years down the road when you really want to see them.

If you have any questions as you back up your digital photos, feel free to send me an email at I’m more than happy to walk you through the process!

My Back-Up System:

This is the exact set-up I currently use! All photos go on my first external hard drive as soon as I get home. I also copy them onto a second external hard drive as backup. Next, I save a compressed file into Dropbox so if both of my hard drives crash, I can easily re-download them. I also use BackBlaze, which runs continuously in the background backing up both my computer and my main external hard drive. This provides additional cloud backup for all of my files and my photos. While I’m editing your photos, I always save the SD cards that hold the photos in a safe place. I won’t use them again until your photos are edited and your gallery is safely delivered. I hope that helps you set up your own personal system for photos!

Learn more about portraits with Emily Alyssa Photography


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *