How to Keep your Wedding Photos Safe refers to how to keep the digital files safe and also how to use your wedding photos by printing them, creating albums, and wall art. In this article we focus our attention mainly on the storage of digital files. If you want more information on What to do with your Wedding Photos check out our blog post.
How to Keep your Wedding Photos Safe?
When you received your photos from your photographer they would have been provided to you on an USB stick, an online gallery, or maybe a DVD. Many wedding couples have been under educated as to what to do after they receive their digital files. Please, I beg you do not throw the USB or DVD in a desk drawer. I am so passionate about this topic as hiring a wedding photographer is an expensive endeavour, and it would be heart breaking if you were to try to open the USB a few months after the wedding only to find the drive to be malfunctioning.
The reality is that computers, external hard drives, and memory cards all fail, and therefore you need to implement your backup strategy as quickly as you can following the capture of your photos. Even the cloud can fail.
The major principle to take away about maintaining the safety of your precious wedding photos is to have at least two copies that are stored in two seperate places and to get your photos onto old-fashioned paper as quickly as possible.
Hard drives can and regularly do fail
I found it frightening to learn that 80% of hard drives fail within the first 4 years! Factory detects are responsible for early failures, general wear and tear and vibration generally for late failures. Recovering data of a hard drive after it has failed is a difficult, sometimes impossible and expensive task. The best solution is prevention through backing up to multiple hard drives.
CDs/DVDs get scratched or broken
If you still use this technology you will already know how easy CDs/DVDs are to scratch. This often results in failure of the disk to load and therefore the contents are not readable.
Technology gets replaced
One of the newer problems this generation has been the constant replacement of technology. 10 years ago all wedding photos were stored on CDs and DVDs; now most laptops and desktops are not built with a CD/DVD player. After spending money on wedding photographer, please do not leave them in the digital nebulas and interwebs. When family members dig through your attic, old broken hard drives with wedding photos will be useless.
Fire and flood is a rare, but definite risk
Wedding photographers usually keep their backup disks in fire proof safes for this very reason. If you have a fire proof safe at home, make sure one of your backup copies of your wedding photos is stored within it. If you don’t have a fireproof safe, bring the hard drive with your wedding photos and store it at your office or a relatives house.
In summary, if you leave your wedding images on a memory stick or disk they are likely to be forgotten or potentially lost. When you then finally decide to do something with your photos you can’t find the device or the device isn’t working and now you have lost the only copy of your wedding photos.
How to Keep your Wedding Photos Safe – Some Solutions
How to Backup your Digital Files
Internal Hard Drives – These are the drives built into your computer. Wedding files can take up a lot of space, eg. 50GB or more, and space or your laptop or desktop can be very precious therefore I don’t recommend this as a primary choice for storing your wedding photos.
External Hard Drives – These are highly portable hard drives capable of storing up to 4TB of data without needing access to a powerpoint. They are great for quickly backing up at least one copy of your wedding images. They come in 2 different types – spinning drives and stationary, known as SSDs. Spinning drives are very cheap but a very sensitive to vibration so therefore you need to be careful when transporting the drives. SSDs are much smaller and vibration resistant compared to spinning drives, but are much more expensive. I use a combination of both spinning hard drives and SSDs. I reserve my SSDs for when I am backing up a client’s wedding files during the reception. My favourite is the Samsung 2TB SSD. It is so small and portable it is great for weddings and also for travelling.
RAID 2 Storage Solutions – RAID 2 is a series of stacked external hard drives within a single box container (see photo below). The big advantage of this system is that your data is stored across multiple hard drives so that even if a drive fails you don’t lose any information as it is already backed up within the system. The other major advantage is that it contains a warning system to let you know when a drive is beginning to fail or as it fails. You just need to release the single drive that has failed and the RAID system automatically redistributes all the files within it over the extra drive. Whilst these systems are not cheap, they represent good value for money in terms of the storage capacity. They also provide a great backup solution for all your digital files, not just your wedding images.
Cloud Based Services – That are lots of good cloud storage solutions today. There are a few free good versions and a number of paid versions. I personally use Crashplan as I need a large amount of data backed up. Google Driven amazing service that would be suitable for almost everyone and is free. What to know some more in depth details of the 5 Best Online Storage for Photos, then check out the blog post.
Whatever device/s you choose make sure you have the files backed up in at least 2 different devices in at least 2 different locations.
GOOD – 2 external hard drives with an exact copy of your wedding images on both hard drives. You store one hard drive at home and the other you store at the office
BETTER – As above plus an additional copy is stored in a cloud based service
BEST – RAID 2 device with one copy shared across multiple hard drives within the RAID box at home, a 2nd copy on an external hard drive that you store at the office, and a 3rd copy stored in a cloud based service.
A Drobo is an excellent RAID 2 storage solution for storage of wedding images. Here you can see the 5 bays with external hard drives inserted into the Drobo
Prints, Wall Art, and Wedding Albums
The power of prints starts here. If you like only one or if you like a hundred of your wedding photos, you should cherish them by printing them and putting them on display.
If you have hired a professional wedding photographer, ask them to professionally print your very favourite images so that you can display them around your house and office. Photographers can create archival prints which last a minimum of 75 years without fading. These are archival prints are usually done on cotton rag, not plastic like most commercial prints. Once you have felt an archival print you will start to understand why it lasts so long and what a quality print actually feels like.
If you haven’t hired a professional photographer you still have not excuse. With prints as cheap as 10c there is no budget too small to prevent you from printing at your local Kmart or Big W and putting these prints into a frame. To get a maximum life span out of your prints, store/display them out of direct sunlight.
There is no better way to keep the memories of your wedding day alive than to put some wall art around your home. If you can’t afford a quality product at this stage, have some larger scale prints done at a retail store, place in a frame, and hand on your wall. You can achieve this for well under $50. Then, as long as you have stored your digital files properly you can upgrade to some professional wall art at a later date when you have the funds available. Don’t wait to put up a professional print, put something up now.
Many couples we have met still have their disc of wedding photos in a desk and never get around to putting together their album. By having an album professionally designed by your photographer and manufactured you will be guaranteed to have a family heirloom forever. Photographers have access to printing manufacturers that the general public do not. Photographers are able to provide a much higher quality product to ensure your album stands the test of time.
If you can’t afford an album, make your own. The process of choosing photos to print might help you re-live all the excitement of your wedding. You may never go through the 1,000 digital images that you have on your hard drive, but you’ll cherish your album for years to come.
Wedding photographer backup
Almost all professional wedding photographers will back up your wedding images utilising 3 different devices in at least 2 different locations. Before hiring a wedding photographer, ask what their policy is on the long term storage of your wedding images.
How to keep your wedding photos safe is a dry but important part of the long term survival of these precious memories. If you ever want to show your grand children some photos from your wedding, ensure you implement what you have learnt in this blog post.