What’s Your Photo and Document Backup Plan?

Part 2: How to Back Up Your Computer and Smartphone

In part 1 of this series, we talked about converting paper and print photos to digital devices to preserve original copies. The transition in 2020 to working at home and using more remote services makes us more aware of security issues and how files can become permanently lost. Recent wildfires and other natural disasters also create concern about losing precious photos and valuable documents. We want you to feel safe. Let’s start with your computer.

Backing Up Your Computer

Computer backups can be full copies of the entire computer or device and create the best version of your photos. After doing a full backup, you can incrementally update new or changed data.

Apple/Mac backup your local drive: By attaching an external hard drive to your device, you can use Time Machine to run a full backup. It will automatically run every hour and check for changes. You can relax knowing:

  • hourly backups are saved for the previous 24 hours
  • daily and weekly backups are saved from prior months

For tips to restore lost data, Apple offers a step by step guide.

If connecting an external hard drive to your computer is inconvenient when moving your laptop around, you can purchase a wireless hard drive.

Creating a local backup from a Windows computer: Copy your files to an external hard drive and use Windows Backup and Restore found in your computer’s settings. You can choose to do a full backup that can be recovered when necessary by running the Restore option. You are able to set an automatic schedule by selecting the time of day and how often you want to back up your device. Choose between daily, weekly, or monthly.

For tips to restore lost data, Windows Central walks you through it.

Cloud backup: All of your files can be duplicated for safekeeping and accessed in the cloud. Should computers be lost, damaged, or hacked, you will always have a copy of every valuable document. Each of these cloud applications can do the job. Some storage is free, and if you need more space, pricing will vary:

BackBlaze – Connect to the internet and leave your computer on while uploading your files from local and external hard drives. Automatic updates will continue, and you can access files from phones and mobile devices. Visit the BackBlaze website.

OneDrive – Users can store photos, documents, videos, and all file types to the service up to 2 GB in size. You gain extra storage when using the mobile app and enabling photo sync.

DropBox – Files are synced across all devices and accessible in real-time. The amount of storage you need will determine the best plan to purchase. The Smart Sync feature saves space on your hard drive by moving local files to online access only.

Carbonite – It backs up documents, e-mails, music, photos, and settings. Do a full backup of local and external hard drives for an extra charge and access files remotely.

Amazon Drive – A free secure online storage service up to 5 GB. You can save, organize, share, sync, and access files from all your devices. For more storage, you only need to upgrade to an annual plan.

Backing up your smartphone

Our phones are mini-computers that can also be backed up in the cloud. When you purchase a new phone, data is transferred efficiently between devices this way. It also adds file, video, and photo storage and protection. Much of your storage may be free, but upgrades to plans and pricing vary.

Apple/iPhone can do a full backup, as long as it is turned on and plugged into a power source. Just find Backup in settings, and you can restore any files and photos from iCloud backup. Once you have the settings synced, all images in your Apple photo ecosystem are automatically updated in the iCloud photo library. You can save them manually plugging your phone into your computer and using either the Photos app or the Image Capture app to copy photos to the designated location.

Android phones, like Samsung, also do a similar backup using your phone settings and Google OneDrive account. Go to your settings, tap Accounts, and Backup, and then tap Samsung Cloud. Tap More Options and then tap Settings, or in newer phones, you will be prompted to tap Sync and enable automatic backup.

Both Android or iPhone Photo Galleries can be saved in Google Photos. As an iPhone user, I prefer to use Apple’s iCloud but this is a secondary backup option that some users like. Android users will use it as their primary photo library source. Both can auto-sync Google Photos with a phone or computer. A paid plan allows you to save full resolution images. It has a great search feature compared with Amazon and Apple, but it is more challenging to customize the organization system.

SmugMug is one of my favorites. It also works for storage and mobile access on both phone systems. Learn more about it with these links:

Dropbox works with both Apple and Windows to sync folders on local drives and in the cloud. To backup photos from a phone, learn how to use the Camera Upload feature. A date will be added to your filename to make photos easier to find and organize.

Amazon Photos. When the program is open, it auto-syncs with your phone or computer’s local drive, but not an external one. It stores full-resolution images with unlimited storage space so family members can access them in the same location. The Search functions allow you to sort photos into folders and find them using keywords, facial recognition, event type, date, and more. To learn more, you can visit Amazon Photos & Amazon Drive forum.

We’ve covered many ways to preserve documents, photos, videos, and other files. Choose the best options for scanning original and paper items, then find the right cloud backup solution for digital copies of your local and external hard drives. If you have to move to a new location, purchase new devices, or your computer files get damaged or lost somehow, no worries! Picture This Organized is there to advise you on the best solutions. Contact us if you need help sorting, scanning, and creating your backups!

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