What is Your Back Up Plan….for your Family’s Photos?

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We all take photos to capture our family’s moments. Do you print out your photos in physical albums? Do you put together photo books with an online service?  Whatever your style, the most important question is – do you back up your photos?  I do. I may not have the best method for doing so, but it works for me. Today I’m going to tell you my process and why it works for me:

About once a quarter or every few months, I follow these steps:

STEP 1: Download photos to single computer

I gather all devices with photos on them and download the photos to our home computer.  This means grabbing our cells, our big camera and the video camera. Then I grab a glass of wine (not a necessary step, but helpful) and sit down at the computer for a while. When I download photos off our camera and phones, I always check the option for erase photos after downloaded so I get that space back on my devices.  Any glitches in this step [of downloading from devices onto a computer] can easily be figured out by some good ole ‘google-ing’.


STEP 2: Organize photos

I go through the photos once downloaded on our computer and divide them into folders by MONTH and by YEAR. See photo folder organization below:



STEP 3: Further organize photos (optional)

I further organize photos in the MONTH folders. I make sub-folders for specific events in a month. (For example, “camp trip” or “birthday” or “misc photos”). Then I go through and delete “junk” photos as to not take up too much space (sometimes I just don’t have time for this step. So, I skip it).


STEP 4: Put all photos onto disc and store disc securely

I copy the folders and put them onto DVD –R discs.  You find find them in different quantities here or at a local retailer, like Art’s Camera Plus. Just pop in the disc, and click, “use like a flash drive”. The disc formats, and then you can copy folders over to the disc. When it’s full or almost full, I stop. Then eject the disc and label it accordingly like, “photos 11/16 – 1/17 and videos 12/16 – 1/17” with a sharpie.  Next, I put the disc in my fireproof case with other important documents. See photo below.  I write down on a note where I stopped backing up photos and videos so next time I know where to start.

20170111_221406 (3) (3)

STEP 5: Send selected photos to be printed

I send the photos I want to physically print to my preferred retailer.  I label the album, “photos through X/XX/XXXX”.  That way, next time I know where to start from.  I ALWAYS use a photo coupon code to print.  You can also share these uploaded albums with family and friends.


STEP 6: Put physical photos into albums

After picking up the photos, I put them in my favorite albums and write short notes.  My boys LOVE looking through our photo albums, and I do too! Here is a link to the albums I use.

This is just the system that works for me. And I stick to it. Sure, my husband asks what I’m doing on the computer for several hours once a quarter, but I kindly remind him I’m preserving our families memories darling, please bring me a glass of wine (and he happily obliges).


Extra Measure: Backup photos continuously on mobile

The only gap in this method is covering for photos on our smartphones from the time I put them on disc to the next time. So to cover for incidentals, I make sure our smartphones are set to automatically back up to the Verizon cloud. Then I make sure every time I download photos from my phone to my computer, I delete the backups on my cloud to make room for new ones!  Note: On my phone I use Verizon Cloud (which only has 5GB of storage).  I manage my Verizon cloud through my login to my Verizon cell phone account. Verizon cloud also backs up my contacts, photos, videos, music, documents, messages and call history so that if something happened to my phone a new one could be populated with my entire phone’s old information, including photos – Voila!

The Result

I like the way I back up photos because I end up with printed copies of the photos I love. I end up with a copy of all my photos on disc in a fireproof safe. I also have the photos I love in my online photo account. Plus – my computer has a lot of memory and I have all photos from 2011 on it currently (someday may need to delete). Finally, I have Verizon cloud to cover my phone automatically with daily backups. Below are some other ways people back up and/or store their photos.  


Other backup options –

  • A few Free Cloud Storage Services include:

    • Google Drive: Each new user gets 15 GB of free space. (If using the “Google Photos” app on your phone, be sure to set up the backup correctly.) They also offer unlimited free storage of unlimited photos, but it is compressed images, so be careful.
    • Amazon Cloud for Prime Members: 5GB free; free unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime customers.
    • Dropbox: 2 GB free (they are platform independent)
    • OneDrive: Everyone gets 5 GB of free space when they sign up, Windows product
    • FlipDrive: New FlipDrive users get 10 GB of initial storage with an opportunity for more for each friend they can refer to start using FlipDrive.
    • Shutterfly: Completely free, full size photo unlimited storage for your photos
    • iCloud: 5GB free, Apple product

Note: You can also upgrade most of these services for a fee and get more space/storage.

  • Backing up your computer’s hard drive (including photos):

    Make sure you have all your photos on a single computer, then you can backup your hard drive. Crashplan, Mozy, Zip Cloud, iDrive, SugarSync, and Carbonite are backup services that can run automatically in the background. Costs vary.


  • Manually moving your photos (and other files) to an external hard drive:

    You can purchase an external hard drive from amazon or other retailers. Then move files to it – easy peasy. Keep it stored in your fireproof safe or an offsite location.


I hope this helps! The main point is – find a way that works for you – and stick to it. Back up your photos so that you don’t wish you did later if something were to happen.  Then figure out how you want to use your photos. Blow them up and print them? Put them in a photo book? Make a video montage (oh- I do these once a year, but that’s a story for another post).

Good luck and get to it,


4 thoughts on “What is Your Back Up Plan….for your Family’s Photos?”

  1. Great article! Do you have a photo sharing service (not Facebook) that you like? I’m looking for a space where 5 of us can share photos and download with a high quality resolution. Any thoughts?

    1. Thanks for the kind words Angela. I use Walgreens to upload and print photos. Then I share the albums with family and friends (via an email link to them to the album). When you upload to Walgreens, you have to manually specify every time that you want slow (high-res) upload. I’ve heard good things about Flickr. You get unlimited photos/space at high quality. You can share, organize and upload to it easily. Like any new service, just take some time to get used to whatever you choose and google and youtube some videos. The investment you put into really learning what a service can do for you will pay off in the long run. Every service has pros and cons. Sorry if this doesn’t help more. I haven’t done too much research on what’s out there, b/c what I do has been working for me. Good luck!

    1. Awww! Glad it is inspirational. Your son does a lot of kid-watching when I do my photos once a quarter, but I think its worth it. It’s a lot of work. But I love having the photos to look back on. Miss you!

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