A Beginner’s Guide to Backing Up All of Your Photos

Now, say you upload that photo to Facebook. When you post it, Facebook, in most instances, downsizes the resolution, or reduces the number of pixels to make it smaller. It may digitally compress it, too, throwing out additional data important to image quality. However, it’s often difficult to visually detect if an image file has been altered, particularly on a smartphone’s small screen. It’s why you might think you’ve backed up your image when uploading it to Facebook or other social media sites, but that’s not really the case.

But right now, most websites, including social media and even photo-printing sites, aren’t designed to truly store photos. That’s because when you back up your photos, you want to be able to retrieve an image file that is as close to, if not identical to, the original photo you captured on your phone or digital camera. That’s also why you want to carefully choose a backup solution, whether it’s online or an external hard drive.

Risky business

Unfortunately, preserving the original photo isn’t the only issue you’ll face when backing up your images. You also need to know that there’s no completely foolproof method to backing up your images. There’s always risk. Store images on a hard drive connected to your computer, and, as Ms. Vitale notes, it can fail. Upload images to an online backup service and you face a different problem: You might think using a cloud service from an established company — like Apple, Google, or Amazon — would be safe. Yet, consider Kodak, which for decades functioned as a powerful and lucrative photography company. In fact, in 2001, it created an impressive photo-sharing and photo-storage site, called the Kodak Gallery. Yet, despite its heritage and know-how, the company declared bankruptcy in 2012, shutting down its entire operation, including the Kodak Gallery, where many photographers had images stored.

The important takeaway here is that you should consider using a combination of services and solutions to safely backup photos. Ideally, store them both online and on two external hard drives (one stored locally and another at a different location). However, at the very least, consider using one online backup, which lets you copy and transfer the photos on your phone, as well as other devices, to an alternate location.

Choosing an online cloud backup service


A tourist takes a photograph on their iPhone of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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