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Should I Archive My Photos and Video On My Memory Cards?

written by: Ryan C.•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/28/2010

Learn the best way to store your digital photos and other media files.

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    eye-fi 4gb sd card With the introduction of new digital cameras that now take pictures at high resolutions (more megapixels) and even HD videos, it can be easy to lose track of all your digital media and keep up with archiving all your files. It used to be that in the film days, you could just store the negatives and developed prints in a box and just leave it there. With digital, you could do just that and leave it there archiving your media on the memory card/stick from your camera, but there are several much better, practical, and cost-effective methods of storing data.

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    Why Archiving Photos on a Memory Card is a Bad Idea

    It is a bad idea to store your photos and videos on your memory card in the long term because this means using precious space on that memory card that could be used for taking pictures the next time you use your camera. You would soon find yourself filling up cards and not being able to take new pictures. We don’t want that.

    What you should be doing is whenever you finish with your camera (after a trip or the day), you should connect your camera to your computer (either via a USB cable or a memory card reader) and download all the photos and videos from the memory card. This way, your card is free for its next outing and you can take the maximum number of pictures or video. You are less likely to run out of space on that card using this method. Once the pictures are offloaded from the card to your computer, you are free to store them in any drive or folder of your choice, edit your photos, e-mail them, share or store them online, or send them to get them printed.

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    A Better Way to Archive Your Photos and Video Files

    A better way to archiving your photos and videos is to put them on a hard drive and/or a CD/DVD. By placing them on your internal hard drive, you allow yourself quick access to your data and it is always with you. On an external drive or USB thumb drive, you can freely move it from computer to computer. Archival on a DVD is a permanent solution for archiving in that it is protected from hard drive crashes and accidental deletion. In a DVD format, you have a “hard copy" that will last you at least 50 years that can be stored in your desk, a safety deposit box, or given to friends and family. These methods here do take an extra step or two but are well worth it. Hard drives and blank DVDs are cheap in comparison to the cost of new SD or MemoryStick Pro cards. These solutions also allow you to be more flexible in how you interact with your media.

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    When Should I Archive My Photos and Video On a Memory Card?

    Aha, so there is a time when it is valid to store your media on a memory card! The only time this could possibly be is if you are on vacation and do not have access to a computer to copy your photos and videos to. In this case, it obviously helps to have several memory cards to allow you to shoot as many pictures as needed. It is also good practice to carry a backup anyway.

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