Digital Files: Step 1
Create a duplicate copy ASAP.
Have at least one copy on a physical hard drive.
Have a copy on a cloud service.
Using a Camera
When using a DSLR or any stand alone camera that isn’t part of a device your pictures are being recorded to a memory card. This is the first copy of your images.
When you download your pictures to a hard drive this is your second copy.
I recommend waiting to delete your memory card until you have finished processing your pictures. If you delete it right away you are down to only one copy again. Memory cards are much more affordable now and it’s a good idea to have several on hand.
Third Copy and Cloud Service
Hopefully your hard drive, whether external or on your computer, is linked to a cloud service. This is a good method of backing up both your pictures and important documents.
If you are connected to a cloud service that is automatically syncing with your hard drive you will have your third copy as soon as syncing is complete.
If you must delete your memory card at this point please be sure your images are synced to the cloud first. This way you still have two copies.
Using a phone or device as a Camera
Depending on your phone or device settings your images could be doing one of three things:
Saving to your device only.
Saving to your device and being streamed to a cloud service.
Being streamed directly to a cloud service without saving to your device.
What I recommend
The ideal situation would be to have your image save to both your device and stream to a cloud service. This gives you 2 copies of each image. And happens automatically.
Clearing a device
Our devices should be treated somewhat like a memory card. They do not have unlimited storage and pictures fill them up faster than any other app.
It is best to download your photos from the device to your hard drive on a regular basis. At least monthly but you could download more often if you have a shortage of space on your phone.
If you use a cloud service you will still be able to access and view the previous photos taken after they are removed from your device.
My ultimate goal
I like to have a safely stored digital copy of my best pictures and an archival quality print from the most important pictures. Ideally those digital files are easy to access. More posts coming soon on this topic but for now let’s focus on making sure you have a duplicate copy of every picture. Check out the posts below for resources and more information.
Related Blog Posts
How to choose a cloud service: This gives information on things to consider when choosing a streaming service for you phone and computer.
File Management for Photographers: This talks about how I create 5 duplicates of each image within 24 hours and what you should expect from your photographer.
What to do once you have a duplicate copy on your device or computer.
Editing and Retouching your photos.
Organizing your photos.
Archiving your photos.