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April 20, 2007

Backing Up Digital Media, For Busy Parents

I recently figured out that 3 years of family pictures are all digital, stored on my computer, and only a few pictures made it to print. I did not share this fact with many until I talked to other moms who also have the same issue. So this means that if I don't have a back-up, well, all memories will be erased. And what would I say when my kids ask to see their pictures?  Sorry  - my hard drive got corrupted and all the pictures got erased? Or sorry, I deleted the folder on my computer with family pictures by accident. Yeah, that will go over well.

So, my current project is too look for alternatives for backing up my digital photos. The first step is to print out the pictures and make beautiful photo albums. Wait - that was my dream...

Here are the alternatives for busy parents:

  • Usbdrives_3The quick and easy way, is just to use the USB port of your computer and attach an USB flash drive. The device is easy to find, and available in 2GB and 4GB (translated to mean lots of pictures). This would allow the use  of copy and paste functionality to move photo's from the computer to the USB device. Some type of documentation system would be helpful to identify what pictures are on the device. But over time, more then one flash drive will be needed to hold all of the photos. There are also versions that are kid proof ("Uncrushable" SanDisk U3 Cruzer Titanium flash drive) .
  • For a one stop solution, Geekdad published a post that dicusses the 750GB Seagate hard drive. Some of the comments mentioned other solutions.Picassa3_5
  • Burn the pictures onto DVD's. Newegg.com has a selection of CD/DVD burners. Blue Ray and HD-DVD optical storage technologies will be the next gen of DVD's. But for your average parent, DVD's are still fine - especially for backing up photos. Along with a burner, software is required for the download. Nero and Record Now are examples of the popular versions out now.
  • Store the pictures on a online using a server. If I were to do that, I would use a server that has lots of space - like Google. Google Picassa locates and organizes your pictures online. You can even make web albums to share with family.
  • I heard that Mac users have an easy way to move pictures to a online site - but since I don't have a MAC, it would be great to hear what they use.

There is also the bigger issue of data storage for all media (documents, photos and files) as well as keeping the data library in sync. CNET had an interesting post (Seagate thinks Small, 1/04/2007) discussing the new line of Seagate pocket-size portable storage devices called FreeAgent. This solution is interesting because it allows storage of the entire contents of the computer with software to manage it. The Pro line comes with 500MB of space on a Seagate Internet storage site for posting photos or other files.

For a stylish data storage option, Pininfarina makes a external hard drive in three capacities (the largest is 500 GB), has one click back-up and comes with 2GB myfabrik.com for online storage. The SimpleTech SimpleDrive family is compatible with MACs and PCs.

Red Herring discussed the issue of keeping data in sync in their article "Out of Sync: Sharpcast, ProtectMyPhotos, Vizrea", March 15, 2007.

I will sift through all of this information and post on the solution I chose at a later time. The first step is to back up those digital pictures so my three boys have a memory of their childhood.


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