Your photographer has given you the images on a USB or via an online gallery, so what to do next? Most couples spend months, if not years planning every part of their wedding day down to the finest detail, including a considerable amount of time choosing a wedding photographer. They then invest a significant amount of the budget for the wedding on their chosen photographer. After the wedding when they receive their photographs, they relive all the magical moments of the day and share their photographs with their family and friends on Instagram and Facebook. But what happens next? For couples that have chosen an album within their wedding photography package, they will still need to confirm their photo choices and album design before the album can be ordered. For those that don’t, often the U.S.B memory stick they have given with their photographs is put in a safe place until the next time they want to look at them.
Are U.S.B memory sticks a reliable way of storing your wedding photographs? No, absolutely not. When we provide a client with their wedding photographs, we make a point of explaining to them that the U.S.B memory stick is just a way of us providing you with your digital files and should never be considered as a reliable storage method for their photographs. We also provide this to them in writing and on a READ_ME file on the U.S.B itself. We always advise them to back-up their files as soon as possible. It would surprise you though, just how many people ignore this or just completely forget. Usually, as we care for our customers, would keep a back up of images for a few years on our hard disks, but that doesn't mean every photographer does.
What are the biggest issues with using a U.S.B memory stick for long term storage?
The data on a U.S.B memory stick can easily become corrupted. This can happen for a variety of reasons, here are a few that have affected some of our own clients:
Plugged the U.S.B memory stick into a games console so they could view images on their television. Some how the games console formatted the drive and wiped everything.
Plugged the U.S.B memory stick into a photo kiosk printing machine. The photos printed fine but the next time they tried to access the drive all of the files where corrupted and they could not open them.
Plugged the U.S.B memory stick directly into their television. Everything seemed fine until the next time they tried to use the drive and found that the files had become corrupted and couldn’t be opened.
Plugged the U.S.B drive unknowingly into a computer that had a virus. When they plugged the drive back into their own computer not only was the U.S.B memory stick corrupted but it also infected their own laptop.
Plugged the U.S.B drive into a portable media player. The media players software crashed during use and when they attempted to remove and reinsert the drive it no longer had any data on it.
As you can see yourselves data corruption is certainly a possibility. With such a small portable device like a U.S.B memory stick there is also always the chance it could be easily lost or damaged.
So, what is the best way to store your wedding photographs? Multiple back-ups of your wedding photographs are the best option. Never rely on just a single way of storing your images. Firstly, technology changes at a fast pace. Long before we started photographing weddings and had access to professional photo storage systems, we just where people that loved photography. We took hundreds of thousands of photographs of family, friends and places we visited. At first when we backed up our photographs, we used blank C.D’S and then D.V.D’s. The laptops we use now don’t even have a disc drive anymore. In 10 years, from now this will likely be a completely dead technology. The very same thing will happen at some point to U.S.B memory sticks, external hard drives etc. We want you and your family to be able to enjoy your wedding photographs for years to come, so it’s important to store your images on multiple devices and when technology takes its next jump be prepared to move your photographs to new formats.
External hard drives We use a lot of external hard drives for local storage. We have used drives from pretty much all of the well-known manufacturers. From all of the brands we have used we have found Western Digital to be the most reliable. All hard drives can fail though, so it’s always worthwhile having multiple drives.
Google Drive Do you have a google email account? Gmail or Google mail? Google provide 15gb of free online storage for personal use via Google drive if you do. It’s very easy to use and 15gb is more than enough space to store all of your wedding photographs in full resolution.
Amazon Prime We love Amazon and we use it a lot. If you have an Amazon prime account did you know that as part of the overall package, they provide you with free unlimited photo storage for personal use? Again, it is simple to use and there are apps for your laptop, tablet and phone.
Other online cloud storage
There are many good online cloud storage services available. These are just a few of the better-known ones:
iCloud Photo Library
There are thousands of companies offering online cloud storage all with their own features and pricing structure, you will need to do a little research to find the one that suits your needs best.
Local storage Of course, you should always have a copy of your wedding photographs on the devices you use the most, be that your iPad or your laptop.
Off-site storage Off site storage at a personal use level could just be a copy of your wedding photographs on a family members computer or an external hard drive kept at your parent’s house.
Purchase a wedding album A wedding album is one of the best ways to preserve all the best bits from your wedding day. A professional quality wedding album will stand the test of time and be with your family for generations.
As we mentioned previously using a mixture of these storage options rather than being reliant on one is the best way to ensure you don’t lose your wedding photographs, never put all your eggs into one basket.