The Cloud, Your Photos, and Your Children

Pictures that capture special once-in-a-lifetime moments, especially ones about your children, are priceless and irreplaceable, which is why it’s important to find ways to preserve and keep backups in case you lose the originals.

A lot of people use external hard drives and DVDs to back up photos, out of fear that the pictures of their children will spread out on the Internet or that a cloud service might lose the files to a crash or service downtime.

These concerns are actually not that surprising, since every few weeks we see or hear about a big company being hacked or suffering from hardware failure. Even industry heavyweights such as Sony, Amazon, and even security specialists Symantec, have experienced downtimes and data losses from time to time.

The truth of the matter is that most family photos are safer online than they are on local backup media. For starters, major cloud storage sites encrypt files stored on their servers using encryption that are on the same level as the ones banks use for online transactions. The encryption is applied when you transfer data to the cloud and while the data is kept in the cloud. That means even if someone manages to hack and copy the files, they wouldn’t be able to open, much less use it. Second, your family photos are only valuable to you. Hackers will only target your personal photos if you are a very popular celebrity or a corporation. There is no gain in hacking your pictures, whether monetary or notoriety. To be frank, most of our photos are not worth the time, effort, and risk for a hacker.

On the subject of data loss, cloud services are still more reliable than local backup media. It’s true that cloud storage providers have suffered data loss in the past, but the causes of these data loss are the same kinds of problems that could happen to your local backup solution. In fact, storage media will fail. It’s not a matter of If, but When.

Think of it this way, if your local backup solution fails because of hardware failure, or theft, or through an accident such as fire, where will you get your data? On a cloud service, on the other hand, there is a big chance that they have onsite and offsite backups, and will be able to restore most, if not all, of your files. There’s also the fact that you still have the original photos in your PC. You can easily upload it back to the cloud. There’s also the option of choosing multiple cloud providers so that one suffering from data loss will not keep you out of all of your files.

So Where Do You Back Up Your Files?

Facebook may be an easy solution, provided that you are not concerned about security and quality, as photos stored on facebook can be easily seen by people you don’t know nor authorized to view the pictures, and that the photos are downgraded in quality as Facebook imposes a limit on file size.

If you want the best in security and prefer that the quality be preserved, you should resort to cloud storage. They don’t mess with the files, they ensure that only you will have access to the photos, and they also have a way of making backups automatic.

Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox are the current best options if you want automatic syncing and want the most affordable (free, actually) solutions. But if you want something more and don’t mind spending a little bit more money, CrashPlan+ would be better as it offers unlimited backups. Another good option is SugarSync, which provides flexibility when it comes to syncing files anywhere in your PC.

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