|  Programs A to Z
CTV.ca

Consumer

powered by: ConsumerReports.com

Photo-sharing sites: No place to back-up your photos Here are some tips for saving your shots

Do you have your photos securely backed up somewhere at home? Or, after you upload them to Snapfish, Flickr, Facebook, My Space or wherever, do you just erase them from your memory card? If you do the latter, you run the risk of losing them, or at least having to pay to get them back.

You might lose them because the site, like Kodak Gallery recently did, decides it will delete them after a period unless you buy at least a certain number of prints from that site every so often. (Sites with such policies may issue you a warning before they lower the ax, but if you miss that warning, it's curtains for your shots.)

You might also lose your photos because the site goes belly up. Think that's far-fetched? Not any more so than Fortunoff's, Linens 'n Things or Circuit City going bankrupt.

Better ways to save your shots

Here's the bright side: It's easy and inexpensive to set up your own digital photo-storage system. Decide whether you prefer to store them on CDs or DVDs, or a hard drive. Computer storage is cheap these days; you can pick up a hard drive with a terabyte worth of storage for as little as $100. We think it's best to do a combination of both—backing it up on two hard drives or a combination of hard drives and a set of DVDs or CDs.

You should also consider making a copy of your photos to keep at an alternate location. We've heard stories of friends and families whose houses were hit by natural disasters and lost everything, including all their precious memories.

A final note on archiving your digital photos: At a recent PMA briefing by a market research firm, InfoTrends, one analyst mentioned that one of their recent studies asked people how they would preserve their images and video for future generations. The top answer was DVDs and CDs, which the analyst said may not be the best solution in the long run.

He suggested that you should also have an actual print, which will last decades. Of course, this wouldn't be a digital solution. But what the analyst was referring to, in part, was that in our fast-moving era, today's innovative hardware and software can easily be obsolete within five years. (When was the last time you bought a computer that had a 5 1/4" floppy disk drive in it?)

The analyst suggested that prints could be a stable, lasting version of your images. While that may seem a bit self-serving coming from a member of an industry that makes its money printing photos, for important photos such as weddings and family events, it's still good advice.

subscribe: For complete Ratings and recommendations of appliances, cars & trucks, electronic gear, and much more, subscribe today and have access to all of ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any sponsor or advertiser of CTV.

Copyright © 2005-2009 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.