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Digital photos can be much more ephemeral than prints & negatives. A hard-drive failure or a laptop theft can irrevocably eliminate thousands of photos. The trick as always, is to try to spread the risk.

So, this is what I do.

1) The external hard-drive. This is a good place to back photos up onto and can be done easily and regularly with the appropriate software. Advantages are that it is a cheap solution. Hard-drives are now one of the lowest cost storage options around. The disadvantage is that they're not actually archival. They're not going to last forever.

2) The internet. You can upload photos to all kinds of locations. I use my zenfolio website as a kind of off-site storage solution. This though limits me to jpegs or tiffs. The unlimited storage also comes at a regular cost. Other places offer free storage for files up to a certain limit, and will even store original raw files. But there's a limit on how much they'll allow. I'm a little wary about this internet-base storage solution. It is some comfort knowing that if my current residence gets buried in ash and lava from an eruption, these photos will be preserved. But the environmental cost of running large servers to store massive amounts of data does strike me as a little perverse.

3) Optical Discs. Yes, I'm still using them. The files sit inert on the disc, they have a longevity that exceeds any hard-drive, and they can be easily stored off site or away the computer. The disadvantage of Blu-Ray and DVD dics is that they are- relative to external drives- an expensive storage system. And they can take up more physical space. For that reason, I only backup some photos rather than all photos onto discs. I try to pick those photos I really don't want to lose. Unlike external drives or internet storage, there is literally no ongoing power costs to maintain the discs once they're written on.