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Backing Up Pictures on Your Mac

written by: CBumeter•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/5/2009

Photos are some of the most cherished possessions we have, and now that digital cameras are making it easier than ever to keep them on our computers, it is very important to back those memories up. Here are a few methods that to help with your backup plan

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    Pictures are one of the best ways to tell the stories of our lives. They tell where we've been, where we want to go, what we did the past weekend, or what we looked like in 5th grade. Photos normally have great importance to people, so losing them can be devastating.
    Here are a couple of techniques to backup your photos so that those memories will never be lost. 
    The first and simplest way is to purchase some sort of external hard drive; whether it's a USB jump drive or an external hard drive. My suggestion though would be an external hard drive. They can be found at most standard retail stores like Wal-Mart, Target or Best Buy. USB jump drives tend to be unreliable and since they can be carried around and thrown in a pocket, there's more chance of it getting lost or the files becoming damaged. 

    With an external hard drive you are able to put the files not only in a safe place but in a place with mass storage. I have at my home a 160GB WD external hard drive that will hold a lot more then most people's entire photo library. They tend to run between $80-$300 depending on how big you want it. One advantage about this is that you can simply click on the folder with your pictures, then click copy and then paste the folder onto that external hard drive. Wa-la, your photos are saved for backup use. Or there are many backup programs you can choose from that will automatically backup your data to an external drive at scheduled times.

    There is always the method of burning photos to a compact disc (cd) or dvd. A CD can normally hold about 650 MB and a DVD can typically hold around 4.7 GB of storage, which would equal quite a few photos. Within iPhoto you can select all of your photos you want to back up, go to Share at the top and then click either burn or send to iDVD to make a backup disc. The only disadvantage to this is losing the cd/dvd or the cd/dvd becoming scratched and unreadable. You also have to burn a new disc every time you want to back up more photos.

    Another option and probably a more tedious method is uploading the photos to an online photo network. There are numerous options to choose from. Some of the more popular ones include, ImageShack, Photobucket and Flickr. All you do is sign up for the service (most have a free version) and then upload your photos. An advantage of doing this is each photo will have a link in which you can then send to friends and family to show them the pictures.

    You are also given embedding codes if you'd like to place them into a blog or website. Another advantage of uploading photos online is that the photos are now in a database that can't be physically destroyed. With an external hard drive or USB jump drive, the devices can be broken or destroyed in a variety of ways. When they're online they are much safer from destruction or being lost. A possible disadvantage to using an online service as your backup method is that the company could go out of business and take your data with it.

    The final way to backup your photos is the old-school method of printing out your photos. This will be pricey, but if you have the money to do so then it's a very easy option to order prints of your digital photos. iPhoto lets you order prints and even allows you to make books and calendars.

    Backing up your data is always a good idea. It's smart to have whatever files, media, or whatever digital information you cherish on a backup drive or source. So take the bit of time to copy them over somewhere now, so you won't be sorry later.
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