Once upon a time you could only take pictures with a camera. And that resulted in negatives that you had to develop and print. You then saved those prints in a folder, or you pasted them in an album. I myself made slides while traveling, of which I kept a selection in warehouses. Every now and then I had a slide night; In those days people still came by for an evening especially to see pictures of, for example, Mongolia. The magazine, folder or album stated which photos were involved. And you could also add something in an album, so that you still knew when and where the photo was taken. And you could supplement it with train tickets, receipts and entrance tickets.
Today, photos are digital. And they come either from just one phone, or from multiple sources, like mine. Phone, SLR or system camera, compact camera, action cam. And they are mixed with movies. But how do you keep all that? And how do you arrange it? Do you want to edit them too? To share? Print? That will be different for everyone and there are many options for saving your photos, from simple to extremely complex.
Photos from the phone
The handy thing about photos on your phone is that they at least contain information about place and time. And that your phone can also make albums from that. You can also organize your photos in albums yourself. If you do that, searching for photos is a lot faster than swiping through all the photos. In my case, a disadvantage of photos on your phone is that there are also a whole mountain of receipts, inspiration for everything, hardware store and Ikea price tags and situation photos of DIY projects.
In any case, it is useful to ensure that the photos from your phone are also on a PC or in a cloud. Because you don’t want to lose everything if your phone breaks or gets lost.
Storage on the PC
Most people will have photos on their PC from digital cameras from the days when a telephone still had a cord or the time when a telephone could only take poor quality photos. Homemade or from a family archive. And maybe scanned photos of prints, negatives or slides. Most likely in folders. With in the name some information about the where and when. Italy-2003, Belgium-2019, Antwerp-Dec-2018, something like that. And those folders are probably back in My Pictures, the default folder for photos. But it can also be done elsewhere, of course. I myself have a separate disk for photos: K-photo. You can then copy or even replace them in one go.
Merge your photos on PC
It is of course useful to have your photos from your phone on your PC as well. And if after a trip you have a mix of phone photos and photos from another device that they are also together. I copy the photos from my phone into an ‘Imported iPhone Photos’ folder. When importing, you can indicate that the photos will be deleted from your phone. I usually leave them alone. You can also immediately rename the photos, but I usually don’t do that myself. From the folder with the imported photos I drag the photos to the folders with the other photos from the same trip or about the same subject. The next time you import, the PC will only download the new photos. And the photos that you can’t place directly somewhere are also on your PC.
If you have an iPhone, you can automatically upload the photos to your iCloud. If you also install iCloud on the PC, you can also add photos that are not from the phone. However, if you have a lot of photos, you will soon end up with a subscription for 200 Gb or more. You can also use Google Photos with both an iPhone and an Android phone, which offers something similar. Storage space for all your photos and videos, automatically organized and easy to share. And of course Microsoft also has a cloud service called one drive. And you have Dropbox or cloud services from various hosting companies. But those are less integrated with photography-based software than the options from Apple and Google. Finally, there is Adobe that offers a package with a cloud including high-quality editing and management software.
A disadvantage with cloud services such as Google and Apple is that they sometimes set limits on the size of photos, may decide to only save limited copies of photos in the cloud on your PC or mobile and that rules can change. In addition, especially at Google, there is of course the privacy aspect, where everything you upload can be used for targeted advertising.
Store your photos on a NAS server
A NAS (network-attached storage) is a central storage device that is connected to your own network. The golden mean between individual external storage (such as an external hard drive or USB stick) and the cloud services of companies such as Microsoft and Google. After all, your data remains within your own home network and completely under your own control. This gives you all the benefits of having your data always available, at full speed and without dependence on external parties. Still, you can access your files from any authorized device, and work with multiple people from the same drive. A user-friendly home server.
Because the hard drive(s) is connected to your home network, a NAS is a more versatile solution than a USB stick or external hard drive. You can save and open files from any computer, laptop, media player, tablet, smartphone and other devices. Many NAS manufacturers have their own app for smartphones and tablets, so that you can easily access your files even on the go. For example, you can stream HD and 4K movies to your smart TV or tablet. Or save your photos and view them via your smartphone. The most popular use case of NAS devices is the private cloud. Synology and Qnap are the most popular NAS device manufacturers.
Safeguard your photos
Just like your phone, your hard drive can also fail. And your laptop can be stolen. So it is important to have a copy. If your photos are in the cloud, you can expect the cloud service to take care of this properly, but I would certainly like to have a copy that does not depend on an internet connection and an external party.
A good rule of thumb is that you should have at least two copies in addition to your original, one at home and one outside the home. If your house burns down, at least you still have your photos. Of course, this does not only apply to photos, but also to other files. The best way to do this depends a bit on the total size of your files. You can simply copy your disk, documents and/or photo directories to a blank disk. Do this twice and keep one outdoors. Next time you can copy and only copy new or changed files or delete the backup first and then copy again. Or you can use special software that syncs between the backup and your hard drive, such as Goodsync. If you have a lot of files, copying everything becomes extremely time consuming. Don’t forget to do this regularly, especially the indoor copy. If you don’t have a lot of data, take a look at a USB stick, for 40 euros you have one of 256 GB.
If you store and manage your photos in a cloud, you can assume that your original is in the cloud and so is your back-up away from home. Then it is sufficient to regularly make a local copy. If your source is your hard drive, you can also choose to use a cloud service as a backup. As a sole backup or as an outside backup. Easy, but of course there are subscription costs.
Make a plan
Whichever way you choose, make sure you know how it works. So that it is clear what is where, how and with what you manage it, how you ensure that there is a backup, where it is located and so on. I know a lot of people with photos in folders, photos on another PC, photos on the phone and some photos in a Photo Stream. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you know what is where. And that is often the weak point. It is better to keep all the photos in one place. Map it, write it down and plan how to store, manage and edit them.